When we heard about Classical Conversations six years ago, I was truly drawn to it due to the exceptional studies mapped out in the high school years. Looking ahead to these crucial years, I feared piecing together the perfect curriculum that would cultivate a well rounded student. Thankfully, this journey has been simplified for me through our involvement in our Classical Conversations community.
Now, reaching the critical "high school years" I feel confident and equipped to finish my son's schooling at home. The training from Foundations and Essentials, as well as Challenge A and Challenge B has equipped both my son and I to feel confident entering the years that count.
Like with my daughters, we mapped out his work time with principles we learned from Tell Your Time: How to Manage Your Schedule So You Can Live Free by Amy Lynn Andrews. He likes to get started with his school work by 9:30, and have some afternoons off. In order to accomplish this, he likes to get some of his work done on Saturday morning. Here's what his general schedule looks like:
Since he'll be in Challenge I, most of his studies are set, however, I'll share the skills we'll be focusing on as we journey through the program.
LATIN: This will be Will's third year of formal Latin studies. I love that we go back and repeat the Henle 1 Latin book. We like to do Latin together...well, I like it when he does it with me because he knows the vocabulary so much better than I do. Surprisingly, I've come to enjoy being a humble learner beside my son in this subject. We love to discuss which endings the nouns should have, and what the construction of the verb should look like. During the day he drills his vocabulary and grammar rules, then on Wednesday night we get together and work on exercises together (and fellowship around words). The skills he'll continue to study will be:
- Memorization of vocabulary and grammar rules
- Translating from English to Latin and Latin to English
- Deepening his understanding of Roman culture and geography as he studies for the National Latin Exam again in the spring.
LITERATURE/WRITING: He will be reading American Literature and focus his writing and thinking on issues of freedom. He's mapped out four hours a week for this seminar. He'll probably have to spend some extra time before bed and on the weekends to get all of the reading done. It will be a scheduling aspect we'll have to keep our eye on to adjust if needed. Some skills we'll be cultivating this year are:
- Analytical reading as he compares the themes and ideas of multiple books
- Critical thinking - whether a character should have done an action
- Managing time - there are so many books on his list this year...he'll have to budget his reading well in order to complete it all
GOVERNMENT/ECONOMICS: For Government we'll be reading American Documents. He's budgeted 1.5 hours for reading and annotating the document of the week. In the spring, when we study Economics, we'll reevaluate his time budget. The skills he'll focus on here are:
- Annotating a document - defining terms, identifying main ideas, underlining and highlighting key points
- Reading well - deepening the content of his reading will challenge him to truly think about what he is reading
- Elocution - we'll practice reading aloud and speaking on these documents in class.
- We'll play a stock market game in Economics
- Evaluate the cost of living after he's fresh out of college, and create a budget.
POLICY DEBATE: This seminar combines with the Government/Economics seminar to round out the work for the week. Each semester he'll be researching a single issue. He's giving himself 2.5 hours a week to find articles, read them, and develop a "brief" as he refines his position on the issue.
- Researching a policy with articles from current events
- Developing a plan to solve a problem within a current policy
- Listening to another well while having different opinions
- Responding respectfully
- Note taking
SCIENCE: This will be our first year using an Apologia text. We'll also be conducting experiments throughout the year in class. While he'll be spending 30 minutes per day on his science work, he'll devote a chunk of his Saturday to this seminar's work. All in, he's budgeted 3.5 hours. The skills we'll be focusing on here will be:
- Learning how to learn from a text book
- Outlining a non-fiction writing
- Keeping good records of experiments
- Writing up lab reports
MATH: We'll be utilizing Saxon's Algebra 1 book this year which includes some geometry. In the past he's worked through his math without too much trouble, so he'll spend 2.5 hours a week on math. We keep doing math through the summer, so if he doesn't finish his book as hoped for, we'll keep going even after our community days end.
- Showing work
- Checking work for simple mistakes
- Expressing understanding by presenting problems to the class
RHETORIC: The first semester we'll be doing a reader's theater with Taming of the Shrew, and second semester we'll be studying music theory. During the week, there won't be too much additional work, so he's not devoted any regular time in his schedule.
- Reading Shakespeare
- Dramatic reading
- Seeing math in music
Extra Curricular: While the Challenge I program requires a lot of time from a student, we still believe in life outside of CC. In addition to his Challenge I studies, Will wants to pursue getting his drivers license (yikes!), and music. He loves playing his guitar, therefore as we made his schedule, he wanted to ensure plenty of time for practice (he's given himself 7 hours a week for this!).
Working hard in the time allotted, Will can accomplish most of what he's assigned for the week. Every year we end up adjusting after we get a feel for the work. It may be that some weeks he needs to finish something up while the girls and I are enjoying schole, but for the most part, we want him to be a part of our family's schooling. We're in this so we can be together. I'm sure our schedule will be modified throughout the year as things come up, but it's great to start off the year with a plan so that we can ensure a peaceful start to the year.
Implementing the Plan
One of Will's favorite ways to keep up with his work is a great planner. This year he picked out the Simple Plan Student Planner (there are very few masculine planners out there by the way).
He likes this one because it breaks down his day into tasks per subject. He can plan out his school work at the beginning of the week, then check it off. It's important to me to keep finding ways for him to learn to manage himself.
So there's the big picture of our first year of high school home schooling. I'm excited to be on this journey with my son. I'm so thankful that we also have a community of friends to be with on the journey!
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.