Disclaimer: The following post is the result of 6 full years of Foundations in Classical Conversations. Why would I need to begin an article about CC with a disclaimer such as the one above? I often have to remind myself and my CC-mama friends – this is a growing process. The growth will continue throughout the rest of your homeschool teaching career. Each year of our Classical Conversations experience thus far, I have tested new routines, tried hundreds of “solutions” to the myriad problems we faced, and have kept only the good stuff.
This past year (similar to all the years before it) was the best year yet. Last year we struggled to find those routines – again, and then settled into them – again. Each year has its specific challenges. Some years we have had newborn babies, mischievous toddlers, household remodeling projects, and students who were threatened with public schooling more than once. Some years we had all of the above. Each year we settled further into the routines and rhythms which were truly a blessing to us. Like cream rising to the top, the good things seemed to discover themselves to us and the rest just went by the wayside.
This post may include affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase based on my recommendation, I get a small remuneration at no extra expense to you. I only recommend things I use and believe to be a blessing.
One of the good things this past year was an extension of a routine we have had for a number of years. I have written in the past about our Simple Classical Conversations Memory Work Review Schedule. That schedule has allowed us to have success in memorizing and retaining the memory work for Classical Conversations for every level of student. We have also had a Memory Master every year without major cramming sessions in April.
What is this magical routine? A Morning Meeting.
Now if you follow along, you already know we have a habit of morning time around here. It’s called Gathering and it is a treasured tradition. But we do that at the very beginning of our day, often while eating breakfast. Our Gathering Placemats do include memory work pegs and connections to the current CC cycle. However, our Morning Meeting is different from our Gathering in that it is solely focused on Classical Conversations memory work and related materials.
In my opinion a meeting must have three things – a time, a place, and a purpose. Thus, the rest of this article will give the details of our Morning Meeting along those lines.
A Time for Morning Meetings
Although life is hectic around our house during the week, I try to do our Morning Meeting at the beginning of our school day. And we are slow starters around here – like real slow. So we typically target the beginning of our Morning Meeting at 10. Our meeting lasts for about an hour. We do our Morning Meetings four days a week, with a pre-planned schedule of subjects for each day. We only review one to two subjects per day, plus a hard subject (ours is Geography) every day. More detail on that schedule in this post.
If you are looking to do a Morning Meeting, you might want to start with a shorter time. But I would caution against spending more than an hour on CC work in Foundations. We have 4 kids and we do some extensions during our Morning Meeting. So if we were a bit more strict about it, we could probably cut it down to 30 minutes or less.
A Place for Morning Meetings
Our Morning Meetings are always around our dining table. It is a big square table where everyone can spread out with markers, crayons, pens, and pencils. And we all have a spot. My two youngest trade spots while my two oldest insist on sitting in the same spot every day without fail. That’s our homebase. Some of our activities will have us getting up and moving around the house, but for the most part, this is our little nest.
If you are interested in starting a Morning Meeting with your kids, I recommend you have a place where each kid can sit and write. But if you are on the go, it can easily happen in the car, too.
The Purpose of our Morning Meetings aka What We Do in our Morning Meetings
Reviewing Classical Conversations memory work is the basic purpose of our morning meetings. I know that earth-shattering revelation may not surprise you considering what we are talking about. But I can get a little off track sometimes, so I need to remind myself of the purpose of our time together at this early part of our day.
How we go about reviewing the CC memory work is a bit eclectic. We do it like we are in a one-room schoolhouse – because we are at this stage. Everyone gets an opportunity to have his/her moment in the sun; and there is a general atmosphere of working together as a team, not attempting to outshine one another.
Tutor Influence in our Morning Meeting
Since our students vary in age quite a bit and our local CC community is large enough for each of my students to be in a different Foundations class, we begin our work each day with each student sharing how their tutor introduced the memory peg for the subject of the day. If the student remembers, she gets a chance to stand up and show the rest of our at-home class how the memory work was presented. One of the beautiful things about having different tutors is each one provides something a bit different each week. Whether it is a song, a chant, a mnemonic device, or a game, the tutors are not doing exactly the same things. Thus, we get lots of different ideas and we can pick, as a family what we prefer to use for our personal reviewing purposes.
Often we will play a review game inspired by one of our tutors. My kids beg to play one of the games my son’s Abecedarian tutor came up with this past year. It’s a Geography game and yes, we play it a lot.
In the years since we started homeschooling, I have come up with various resources to help our family with Classical Conversations. They are resources we really use. I create them to bless my family, but I pass them along to you in hopes that it will be a blessing to yours as well. You can find all my homeschool resources in the shop. I also put together bundles for each Cycle, to make it easier to grab all the goodness at once.
Remember when I said, I can get a bit off track and I have to remind myself of the purpose of our Morning Meetings? Often, I will have a book I want to share with my students as an extension to the CC Memory Work. Sometimes, it is a short picture book, which can be read in one sitting. Other times, it is a chapter book, and we take a number of weeks to get through. I found our Morning Meetings were a good avenue to share these books.
As you likely know, the number of books to share with our kids is innumerable. I try to focus on sharing a FEW of the best ones. As I mentioned, the meeting cannot turn into an all-day event. Focus, Leah, focus!
For Cycle 2, we will be reading a book from the Bridge (my plan to bridge the gap between CC and Charlotte Mason) during some of our Morning Meetings. I can’t wait to dive into Heralds of the Reformation with all my kids!
A Memory Work Notebook
In that post about our Memory Work Review, I shared my affinity for making each child a CC Memory Work notebook, using Amy Snyder’s beautiful work. You can find her workbooks for each cycle on Etsy. These have proven an extremely wise investment. This is our first year cycling back through her books, so I didn’t have to purchase anything new. I just had to send them off to the printer with instructions.
Last year’s printer error actually turned into inspiration for this homeschool mama. Thus the extension of our memory work review routine was born. You see, when I had printed Amy’s books in previous years, I had them printed on a heavier-weight paper, double-sided, and spiral bound. This past year the printer missed the double-sided part. Thus my students had a blank page facing each page of the memory workbook.
Do you see what I see? Yes! All of a sudden my students had a blank space to do things like my oldest student did there –
- drawing maps
- creating prepositional phrases
- writing declensions
- rewriting and illustrating history sentences
- and more
What’s more about this little discovery, I didn’t have to do much more than provide suggestions of what to fill those blank spaces with. And those extensions were created out of my mind almost on a whim – I love when my kids inspire me to lead them in learning. It’s so fun!
P.S. You can do the work to create your own notebooks for your kids by pulling together resources from other places. But honestly, I just like the simplicity of Amy’s resources. They’re fantastic!
A Word About Classical Conversations
If you are just starting out with Classical Conversations this year, welcome! You are about to embark on a stretching, shaping, and sanity-searching process. Some days ahead will be difficult. Likely in ways you might not be expecting. I recommend these articles for new CC friends:
- Starting Homeschool with Classical Conversations? Encouragement from a Seasoned Mama of 4
- Simple Classical Conversations Review – Updated
- On Classical Education and Classical Conversations
- Classical Conversations Community Day
If you are a seasoned pro, you already know this year you will continue to learn and develop your homeschooling muscles. You know you have been challenged in this homeschool journey as you have sought to teach your children well. I hope you find some encouragement in this space. I recommend these articles:
- A Simple Word: Hard
- Reflections from Classical Conversations Practicum 2021
- On Classical Education and Classical Conversations
- Learning that Lasts
As you may have noticed, I write quite a bit about Classical Conversations. If you are interested in getting Classical Conversations-specific updates in your inbox, please sign up here:
I have started writing enough about Classical Conversations that I created a segment of my mailing list devoted to CC. If you are interested in receiving updates on our CC journey, encouragement for your CC journey, and notification of new resources to help you, please sign up here. If you are already a subscriber, it will NOT double-subscribe you.