One of the most curious parts of the Foundations curriculum for Classical Conversations, in my opinion, is Latin. Not because I think it is frivolous or unnecessary, but because it is the one most obscured by the bridge from Foundations and Essentials to the Challenge years. It is as though we parents of littles can see across a wide river the benefits of Latin, but we can’t see the passage across.
It is hard to see the connections between what we learn in Latin in the Foundations years and what our students will be dealing with in the Challenge years – especially cycles 1 and 2. Noun endings and verb conjugations are just so abstract at this point.
So what do we do for our students who show interest in Latin, but who are just now repeating a cycle in Foundations?
Hey, planning parents (waves)! Don’t you just love the process of planning for the next school year? The activities, the crafts, the projects, the copywork! And do you ever look back over those carefully crafted plans and think, “When are we ever going to have the time to do all this?”
Or maybe you are still in that hazy-headed place where all plans are perfect and every day of the next year will hold happiness in the palm of its hand because you did it ALL.
Well, I don’t want to burst the beautiful bubble you have fashioned for yourself and your family…
but this is real life.
And real life is a bit more complicated than any lesson plan can parse.
This is our second time through Cycle 2 for Classical Conversations. And this time, I am really…no really, planning what we are going to actually do.
And it may surprise you to know that it is super simple!
History is my jam. I was a church history major in college. My favorite all-time teachers, the ones who impacted me the most, taught me history. Impressed upon my heart and mind, I can still see Mrs. Berry (10th grade World History) standing at the front of class, speaking like Demosthenes. I can still remember my 8th grade American History teacher’s impressive display of Civil War artifacts.
As I tend toward history and literature or language learning, it was easy in our early years to attempt to make the Classical Conversations history sentences come alive to my student(s) by simple activities. In those early days, we did very little extra. but most of the time the extra would be history. We wrote better than Charlemagne; held spontaneous coronation ceremonies; “nailed” pretend 95 Theses to the wall; visited a building with a Magna Carta mural; went on a presidental tour around town; and on and on.
Then, as we began to practice a bit more of a Charlotte Mason approach to our education, we practiced the arts of noticing, attending, and storytelling as we read living history books about the characters who dotted our Classical Conversations Timeline and history sentences. Often, we stopped to sing snippets of the Timeline song or a history sentence related to what we had just read.
All that I considered simple, not because it was easy (because it was) but because it was natural. It was borne out of my natural love of history. I suspect other parents would just as easily and naturally add to the sciences or math.
Here’s a funny story about the geography memory work for Clasical Conversations. I will tell you the moral of the story ahead of the story: simple doesn’t mean nothing.
Our first year of CC we didn’t do much. I had a 5 year old, a 4 year old, a 1 year old (and found out about baby #4 in January). Oh, and there was a hike – literally. Every week, when we went to Community Day, we drove an hour, got everyone piled out of the car and hiked downhill to the classroom. I didn’t really have much energy for more than just listening to the memory work. So, most of the time, that is what we did. We listened in the car every week, for an hour. And we would add a bit here and there.
Incorporating the practice of Gathering in our days has been one of the most natural processes we have undertaken. In large measure, the ease with which we have done this is due to the addition of our Gathering placemats. As they are always out on the counter for breakfast, ready to be devoured along with the cereal and cinnamon toast of our mornings; they constitute a simple feast.
They drive conversations in the early part of our day. Much to my delight, they are also lovingly shown off to pretty much anyone who comes by our house. And they have become precious to me.
As I have developed a set for each month of the upcoming school year, I have had private celebrations. There is a moment of glory when just the right piece of art lines up perfectly to just the right quote from Shakespeare. A blessed sigh of relief is exhaled when there are just 4 boxes left. Followed by an internal dance party when a full month’s set is complete.
As I transitioned into teaching my kids at home, I was the new student trying to get the lay of the land. The landscape was vast, dotted with an immense amount of information. Feeling overwhelmed with the task of teaching my kids was not a possibility, it was a reality. It seemed a mountain range lay before me. I had to choose one to climb. Even when I settled on a specific mountain (curriculum) to climb (Classical Conversations), I found a valley lay beneath it, filled almost to brimming with books to match every detail of the curriculum.
I saw match-ups for science for each week, nine to ten books a week…and crafts, and worksheets. Then I saw match-ups for history, 4-5 chapter books a week, and crafts, and worksheets. It seemed I could reserve two-thirds of the library and still only be “covering” two subjects with my kids.
Isn’t this whole Classical Conversations supposed to be done with a stick and some sand?