30 September 2011

Day 8 / 101 - Classical Conversations: Foundations

Last week I mentioned that my homeschooling style was a little bit Classical.  To school a child classically, you need to believe in a three part training of the mind, called the trivium.  Today, I will briefly touch on the first part.

I believe that children in their early years of school have minds that are ready to absorb information.  Lots of information.  Young children memorize anything (songs, commercials, cartoon characters, etc.) easily and quickly, with very little effort.  Their minds are equipped to do so.  As I type this I could sing for you both a McDonald's and Wendy's commercial from my childhood as well as theme songs for Family Ties and the Dukes of Hazzard.  I don't even need to think about it, it just comes naturally, because I memorized this information (with very little effort) when my brain was at this young school age.  My children are young enough that they actually still find memorization fun.  So we still spend the majority of our school day memorizing facts - rules of mathematics, history dates, rules of grammar, descriptions of plants, animals, and the human body, the vocabulary of foreign languages, scripture, poems, geographical boundaries and landmarks, etc.  By memorizing this information at an early age, I believe that children are being taught the tools for studying and mastering any subject.

Classical Conversations (CC) has enabled me to become a Classical home educator.  They have gathered a ton of information worth memorizing and broken it down into 72 weeks of content that can be taught in a three year cycle.  In fact, their average-sized spiral bound Foundations guide is one of the few text books I use to teach my children in this manner.  It doesn't take much.  And of course, we make it fun.  As we memorize, we sing, we dance, we chant, we jump around, we play games....anything to keep my children's minds engaged during the memorization process.  As they age, and their brains mature, we will build on, and begin unpackaging, the information they have memorized.

On Wednesdays we spend our day with the Hillcrest Campus of CC.  During the morning hours we participate in the Foundations program.  Children are broken into classes of 6 - 9 students, and a trained tutor (I happen to be one!) introduces the new memory work and leads the class time.  There are six subjects we cover each week: Timeline/History, Latin, Math, English, Geography, and Science.  In addition the children have a fine arts lesson/project, a hands on science experiment, and an opportunity to practice oral presentations.  All this in 2 1/2 hours!  Then, throughout the week, parents are able to build on this information during their homeschooling time.

There really is so much more I could say, but in order to keep it brief, I'll invite you to check out the links above.  Or, please contact me if you have any further questions or thoughts about CC.  If you are considering homeschooling, but don't know if you can do it (or don't know where to begin), THIS is the place to start.  CC will enable you not only to homeschool, but to become an exceptionally good homeschooler.  It has done so for me!

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