In May 2009 my husband and I found ourselves at a crossroads. Several events converged to propel us into changing paths from public school to home school. I remember feeling nervous about the changes that would come from making the switch as well as unsure if I could provide an adequate education for my kids.
Additionally, I was wrestling through all of my school memories that I thought they would miss out on if I kept them home: class parties, yearbooks, field trips, and eventually choir, band, and prom. Eight years past the point of decision making, I look back and realize how my fears were unfounded, and they've gained much more than they missed.
The unifying factor that has stabilized our home school experience is joining a Classical Conversations community. Not only has it provided a fantastic foundation of education for us to follow, it also has provided community, friends, and experiences I didn't expect to find outside of the school system or my church. We've been greatly blessed.
If you're considering making the change, or if you just took the first step and are wondering if you can make it with Classical Conversations, I just want to encourage you that it is a challenging journey, but it is so worthwhile. Over the next couple of days I thought I'd share some of my fears and how CC has helped me overcome them.
Fear #1: What if I forget to teach something?
Fear #1: What If I Forget to Teach Something?
Let's just be clear: there are gaps in every education.
However, it is easy as a home school mom to "play to your strengths." I love literature, and so our family reads aloud - a lot! Even though I'm a lover of words, I am a poor speller. I could easily avoid this aspect of my kids home education and be very content! I've found that there are two elements in being a part of a Classical Conversations community that save me from my short comings: providing a plan, and friends to help me stick to the plan.
Follow the Plan
When I first started looking into Classical Conversations, we had been homeschooling on our own for a year. I picked a box curriculum for my 3rd grade son and just modified it for my kindergarten daughter. It worked well, but I couldn't imagine how I could juggle three versions of that type of curriculum once all three of my kids were school aged.
The next year, I decided to pull together my own plan for unifying all of the kids. It took a lot of work, and I didn't know if I wanted to do that every year!
Two elements of the Classical Conversations program provided exactly what I needed: the one room school house approach, and a strategy for homeschooling through high school.
I loved how the Foundations and Essentials programs allowed me to teach all of my kids together. Even though they were all studying at different levels, they were all working on the same memory work.
Additionally, we have been incredibly impressed with the education our son has received working through the Challenge program. All of the elements of the Foundations memory work resurface in the Challenge years, and it is beautiful to watch how the kids put pieces together to express understanding. It has given me a lot of peace about focusing on reading, writing, and arithmetic in the early years. When they're ready for meat, they'll get it!
Keeping It Going
A genuine challenge of home schooling is consistency. Over the past eight years, we've experienced some completely derailing circumstances that could have shut our schooling down. With a community like Classical Conversations, you have due dates, deadlines, and accountability. Since parents have to attend with their children, you develop friendships that are not only enjoyable on community day, but they also grow to be your support system for outside of class.
At first I really thought I'd miss having the control of everything. Control is a perk of home schooling, right?! However, I quickly realized that the Classical Conversations program is long enough to fill a substantial portion of our year, but still leaves time for us to pursue our own interests during the breaks.
We generally take family trips during the fall break.
Over the Christmas break, we take time to make gifts for the family, cook, and practice hospitality.
Spring break is a rest week of fun in the sun.
In the month of May, each of my kids picks a personal project to pursue.
Over the summer, we continue progressing in math and reading, and finish up anything we missed in the school year.
The flexibility I desired is still possible within the boundaries of our community time. Just like you might run farther with a running partner, you will accomplish so much more with a group of like-minded friends.
Truth: A CC Community Offers Peace of Mind
In the end, following a guide of set curriculum offers me peace of mind that I'm not missing anything important. I'm really raising lifelong learners, and CC is a perfect fit for equipping parents to do just that. If my kids love to learn, they'll be able to dive deeper into any subject that they find themselves passionate about later in their life.
As far as high school credits to graduate go, Classical Conversations offers a sample chart showing how the program stacks up with current graduation standards. Even if they don't complete 100% of the Challenge program, they'll be set for a solid high school education. That definitely offers peace of mind for me.
Check back for the next installment of how Classical Conversations helped me overcome my fears of transitioning from public school to home school.
Fear #1: What if I forget to teach something?
What fears did you have in the transition?
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.