Classical (ish)

If you’ve read the book, you’ll see the irony in this
post.  (I’m also using Facebook for the
book, which is even more ironic.)

You see, Julianne, my protagonist, started out thinking the
Classical method was not the homeschooling approach for her. A YouTube video of a four-year-old quoting facts about Alexander the Great and reciting Latin declensions freaked her out. As the year progressed, however, some aspects of
the Classical system grew on her and she started incorporating it (a bit) into their home.



Truth is stranger than fiction. We have joined a Classical Conversations group for this upcoming year.

We’re not doing the Foundations level (morning memory work class), but we are doing the Essentials level (afternoon writing/grammar/math games class). I really like the structured approach to writing, especially for those who hate to write (cough *boys*).

I heard about it in April, and immediately loved it and signed up my son. (It starts with the third grade, so my other two are too young for it.)

In June, I opened the grammar guide that could have doubled as a college text, freaked out, and after talking to several people, promptly withdrew my son.

Then in late July, I watched Andrew Pudewa’s (Institute for Excellence in Writing) DVD covering the whole writing method, and waffled. I talked to some more people about it, and decided to re-enroll my son.

Don’t you feel so sorry for the poor lady that had to deal with me? Me too.  (To her credit, she was so gracious and accommodating and didn’t once say, “Are you insane?” which she had every right to do.)

But I decided that if I re-enrolled him, we were just going to do it, get whatever we could out of it, and not worry about the rest. I don’t want the homework to take over our lives. If it starts resulting in tears and frustration (I mean more than the customary tears and frustration), we’ll just cut some out.

Here’s how I am planning to dip our toes into the Classical waters, without jumping in headfirst quite yet:

  1. No freaking out. I’m done. No more allowed. I think it can be overwhelming for
    new moms (Almost all the moms at our campus are new). I’ll be the picture of calm. If people start getting stressed out, I’ll lead us all in Que Sera Sera. (What? You don’t believe that?)
  2. Listen to the Memory Work CDs in the car and/or at bedtime.These are painless and fun, and have memorable songs that teach all kinds of facts about ancient history, geography, math, science, and English. We’re skipping Latin. I’m just not up for that yet.

(My son says he wants to learn the Latin part on the CD though! As he said, “Not many kids know Latin. I mean, except for those Latin kids.” )

3. Do our writing homework for class and as much of the Grammar homework as fits into the time I have allocated. I don’t want it to be a huge part of our days, so I may cut some homework out. I will fight to protect reading time, imaginative play, and time outside, so this will have to fit in around those things.

4. Review the week’s memory work at dinner. We don’t have to do any of the memory work because we’re not in the morning class. But I want to because we’re
studying ancient cultures this year anyway for history. And I want our family to
go to Africa this summer, Lord willing, so I want to learn some of the
geography of the area. And while we’re at it, we might as well see what we can
learn of the timeline facts.

So my plan is to hang up the page with all that week’s memory work on the wall in the kitchen (that’s the clipboard you see in the picture), and tape the timeline cards up. At dinner, we can discuss and review. We’ll see how much we manage to get.

(And truth be told, we need something to do at dinner anyway. My husband’s often not home yet, and trying to force polite, stimulating conversation with my children is a lot like trying to have intellectual discussions with a tree full of screaming monkeys. This gives us something interesting to do.)

We’ll see how that all works out.








5. Read what my kids read. This has nothing to do with Classical Conversations, but is an idea my friend distilled down for me from A Thomas Jefferson Education. I forget why that’s Classical, but somehow it is. By reading the same chapter books my kids are, we can discuss the ideas in them.  So, whatever (easy)
chapter books my son is reading, I want to read them too so we can discuss.

Here’s the weird thing: I’m really excited! I love studying this material, love learning the history and facts that I never learned in school. The kids seem to like it as well, seeing how the pieces fit together.

I don’t know that I see the value in it for a four-year-old, if that was my oldest child. I think I’d rather let him play in the sandbox. But at eight, my son really can understand what we’re learning, and my six-year-old daughter can get bits and pieces. My two-year-old can sit in his booster seat, grin adorably at us, and try to say “Mesopotamia.”

It seems like a good time to start.

Do you do incorporate pieces of the Classical approach? What do you do at your house?

Official programs/resources
Excellence in Writing

Blogs by moms
Ann Voskamp’s approach is “Simple Classical,” which I love.
CC resources: The Corkums and Half a Hundred Acre Wood

BONUS: I was looking at the Corkums resources for Cycle 1 Week 1 (the week we are on) and found this rap (and the idea to use a croissant) about the Fertile Crescent. Isn’t it hilarous? I’ll be showing my kids this one!


4 thoughts on “Classical (ish)

  1. We’re doing Classical Conversations for the first time this year (my oldest is turning 5 this Fall), and I’m really excited about it. My kids (the second is 3.5) really like memorizing, and are actually pretty darn good at it, so I think they’ll enjoy the memory work. I’m also looking forward to learning things that I never learned in school (or have forgotten since). My plan is also to avoid freaking out and just doing what we can with the memory work. Like yours, my husband is rarely home at dinner, so I frequently read to the kids or work on reciting poetry with them during that time so that I can avoid the screeching monkeys act.

  2. It’s nice to know we’re not the only screeching monkeys. Sometimes I look around and think, “It can’t POSSIBLY be this bad at other people’s houses.” :) Yes, I’m really surprised how much I like CC so far! We’ll see how it goes!

  3. I thought this was pretty funny as I originally had the same feeling about the whole Classical approach. Then I jumped in with both feet even tutoring. Now we just use the memorization work at home and also use the Excellence in Writing at home. :)

    • Esther,
      Oh good, I’m not the only one! Good to know you’re still using it. :)