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An Open Letter to a Parent Considering Classical Conversations

Dear moms and dads,

You are balancing hopes and realities. Time is money and sometimes you have only time, sometimes money, and usually a teeter-tottering mix of the two.

Every time you hear the classical method explained, a few more of your questions are answered, but then a few more arise.

"Handing over" everything except math and reading to Classical Conversations may seem overpowering. It promises you a burden lifted, but offers a possible new one. And what is this about not being a drop-off school experience? And in seventh grade, they "take over" everything? If you are still on the fence, here are some thoughts for you to consider.

I originally joined Classical Conversations telling myself I would see "how they did it" for one year and then decide if I wanted to continue on. I took "the low road," saying no to tutoring while I got my feet wet. Paying for a service gave me the freedom to observe from a distance, where I was quickly "won over." I was put at ease by hearing over and over that I should simply let the first year wash over me and take the first two years to continue to learn and grow in understanding the classical model. And I was surrounded by parents who, like me, had landed there after panting through attempting homeschooling on our own without support.

I am wondering if these are your thoughts:

1. It seems like overload. Actually, the biology and logistics make this method more un-schooling than over-schooling. The classical model eases the burdens of K-12 school in two ways. (1) It pours the terms into your children at a time when they are developmentally most receptive to this, giving them room to build on that material when their natural questioner comes to the table. Then they are easily engaged as high schoolers, having mastered the material with which that they are now reaching new depths. This gets you farther faster and solves many of the problems that a traditional approach has. (2) For kindergarten through sixth grade, the same guide has all of the materials for all of your children.

2. Hearing four-year-olds rattle off Newton's Laws of Motion just seems strange. This part of drilling the memory work is only thirty minutes of the three-hour weekly meetings, which happen only twenty-four weeks of the year, beginning and ending inside a typical school year.

3. It's the Latin, isn't it? Knowing Latin roots makes the SAT vocabulary a breeze, and the legal and medical professions rely heavily on Latin words. The experience also makes a student able to learn any other language.

4. You really wanted a drop-off school experience? But you get the bonus of community instead. Though your twenty-four program days may not knit you together as the closest of friends, you have the opportunity to have fresh voices, perspectives, and HELP coming alongside you every week. And for those who do not have a circle of homeschooling friends, you may find them here! (In seventh grade, you will be dropping off your middle schooler for one full day per week).

5. It's the money? Yes, the cost is low, but it gets more expensive with time. Luckily, you have time to prepare and opportunities to tutor which can potentially pay for your children based on enrollment. And if it is still high for you, the application reads that you can ask your director for payment plan options.

6. You don't want to hand your child's education over to man's formulas or a particular denominational doctrine.  Classical Conversations emphasizes that you are not handing your children over to experts, you are allowing God to reveal himself in all subjects together as the parent makes decisions about how deep to go and in which direction. The tutors are strengthening you and upholding you as the final authority on all matters: the measure of success, assignments, and grades. And in seventh grade, when Classical Conversations curriculum for all subjects is prescribed, you are helping your children come to the table ready to discuss the worldview, Scriptural interpretations, and ideas that you have developed in your home. They are sharing and exchanging ideas in the sharpening process of discussion and dialogue, but there is room for differences.

Some of these were on my own deal-breaker list as I was in the early stages of deciding if Classical Conversations was a fit for my family. The Lord is faithful to orchestrate our children’s education as we commit our way to Him. We are truly thankful to have discovered Leigh Bortins's program as part of our journey. Whatever you choose, we all stand to gain so much in growing alongside our children!

CATEGORIES: Articles, Big Ideas: Truth, Beauty, Goodness and more!, Classical Christian Education, Dialectic Stage (ages 12 to 14), Grammar Stage (ages 4 to 11), Homeschooling Life, Rhetoric Stage (ages 14 to 18)

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