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Classical Conversations Quest/Starting a Co-op


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#1 Deana FL

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 10:07 AM

I love the total concept of this program, but WHY is it sooo expensive? Those of you who participate in Classical Conversations...can you tell me some pros/cons?

Would it be possible to emulate the Challenge program without the $1000 tuition?

And any suggestions or need-to-know information for beginning a co-op?

#2 Heather in VA

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 10:56 AM

Well to answer your specific question, No you can't do the Challenge program without the tuition because they won't sell you their guide unless you are enrolled in the program. That isn't true of the Foundations program for young kids. You can get that guide and do it at home.

As far as why it's expensive, I don't know why it's as expensive as it is but some of the cost goes to paying the tutor. There are also layers of 'bureaucracy' for lack of a better word (local director, state director, main company etc). They get money too. Then there is the cost to rent wherever they meet etc. It adds up although since it's a standard fee everywhere plus most places have an additional building fee it's hard to tell what goes where since clearly it's more expensive to rent somewhere here in Northern Virginia than in a rural area and the fee doesn't go down if you find somewhere that lets you use their place without cost.

But can you emulate the program? Sure. Ask yourself what you like about it. Unless the main attraction is having a tutor or having other students for discussion, you can either by the actual materials they use (such as Henle, Saxon, logic etc) or get similar guides like they use for literature and just do it at home. Again it's a trade-off. It's much cheaper but you don't have someone else doing the teaching or other students around.

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#3 MommyX8

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 12:30 PM

Have you had your child go to Challenge CC for a day? That will give you a lot of insight. Plus, it is very expensive and you don't want to spend all that money on something that your child won't like. I went into it with the preconceived notion that since this is classical education that there were going to be some pretty sharp students in the group. We didn't come away with that feeling so I am thinking that the group is only as good as the students in the class. If they don't want to be there or participate, then the whole group suffers.

I am doing Foundations at home. I don't agree with putting a 4 year old in classes. Plus, I would have 4 in Foundations and if I have half the class, I might as well do it at home and save a lot of money. We have other co-op classes anyway so fellowship and socialization is not what I want to pay the big bucks for.

#4 Deana FL

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Posted 03 January 2010 - 02:13 PM

for your responses. I really like the rhetoric and debate idea, along with the interaction and discussion setting.

I'm already going along a similar academic track as what is offered by CC. It's the social setting with the common academia that I desire most. Guess that's why I'm thinking it could be copied without the enormous expense.

As stated, though, the level of excellence depends on the attitude and intent of the children involved.

As big as my city is, I know of only 4 or 5 academic co-ops. I've never been a part of any of them...maybe I should just bite the bullet and join one, rather than starting my own.

#5 Steph

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 09:39 AM

Hmm. Compared to other things we have looked at it doesn't seem expensive at all for what it gives you. That's why we choose it.

We feel you can't do dialectic or rhetoric in a vacuum.
We looked at on line classes - $400 to $500 for each class/year. Ouch for 6 classes!
Local co-ops - $10 - $20 for each class each week - total cost depends on the length of the class. Again ouch for 6 classes.

With CC, you get 6 classes for 30 weeks which is about $5-6/class.

You could pull together a class and teach it using other materials. That's our other option. But I figured by the time I spent the time and energy to prepare for it and purchase all the teaching materials it was cheaper to hire someone else. (I also have younger kids so I would need to have child care and time is limited for me.) But this may be something you want to do.

Have you looked at their syllabus? Take a look at it and see what you think.

It can easily be replicated, but it will take time. I personally don't have that time, but I also have little ones. So I can't do something like that without child care.

If you are simply looking for a pier group for discussion, you can do that with less effort than a whole big program.

Personally, I was looking for someone to teach those harder things for me - Latin, Science and upper level Math. And I really wanted that common curricula with a solid group of piers for my kids. I like that they are all together for all their classes. We didn't get that online or in co-ops.

We really like online classes, but we didn't interact with the same students from class to class. So while we still do use online classes in the grammar stage and for certain things. Their main group will be the Challenge class.

We found the same with co-ops. It was much harder to connect with other students outside of class. There was little cross over with the other programs. So we were always working with different groups of students and it never went beyond that little project. I was hoping for more. KWIM?

I agree that you should go visit. (Don't look at the level you are wanting next year only also look at the level before before those will your child's piers.) The group of kids really does make a difference, but a good tutor can turn a group of kids around.

And you could start a Challenge program yourself so you can have the group you want for you students.

Edited by Steph, 09 January 2010 - 04:33 PM.


#6 G5052

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 12:00 PM

I've been a Foundations Tutor for four years, an Essentials Tutor for two and am the sub this year, and am hoping to be a secondary Challenge I Tutor next year (i.e. someone else directs and subcontracts with me to teach two subjects).

CC is expensive because it pays those who teach pretty well for an academic co-op and provides the legal/accountability structure that purely local groups do not have. They are strict about how much is paid when, and the parents, tutors, and directors are all under legal contracts. A group cannot start unless they are able to prove insurance coverage and a formal facility use/rental agreement.

I've taught through other groups, and much prefer the CC model. The previous groups were loosey-goosey on my personal liability and the whole sign-up/payment policy. I had a class that spent a whole summer preparing for fall apart days before it started, leaving me several hundred of dollars in the hole and with nothing for my hours of prep work because of the group's policies. Then not long after that I got embroiled with financial/legal homeschool group fiasco where I realized how serious my personal liability had been for years while I served on the board there. So my conclusion was to never teach again unless there was very strict sign-up/payment policies in place and unless I was confident that my personal liability was not at risk.

And CC groups are only as good as those teaching and those involved, just like any other paid class. I couldn't be more happy with the Challenge program at our campus. I'm getting top-notch instruction in six subjects for what it would cost me to do three subjects through local groups that offer paid classes, all in one day at one place. We hope to continue with it all the way through.

#7 homeschoolally

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Posted 04 January 2010 - 11:42 PM

Hmm. Compared to other things we have looked at it doesn't seem expensive at all for what it gives you. That's why we choose it.

.

:iagree:
I always thought Challenge was expensive also, but this year I've reconsidered. I've spent a LOT of time trying to find supplemental classes for my 6th grader, either online or on-site--and they're typically $400-$500 for a good middle school class per semester.

If you take just one subject--math or latin for example--and add up what it would cost you to have a weekly tutor for that subject all year, it will easily add up to $500 or more. Also, the debate and rhetoric opportunities are impossible without a solid, organized group.

If you get a good group, I think it is a fair cost now that I've had experience looking at the alternatives.

Could you offset the $$ by tutoring a Foundations class? IMO that would be a much easier investment of your time rather than starting your own 'Challenge-type' group. If there's a CC in your area, you might want to check into that option. You only have to prep an hour or so a week for that, and tutor only 2 1/2 hours!

Edited by homeschoolally, 04 January 2010 - 11:45 PM.


#8 MusicMouseTN

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 10:41 PM

:iagree:
I always thought Challenge was expensive also, but this year I've reconsidered. I've spent a LOT of time trying to find supplemental classes for my 6th grader, either online or on-site--and they're typically $400-$500 for a good middle school class per semester.

If you take just one subject--math or latin for example--and add up what it would cost you to have a weekly tutor for that subject all year, it will easily add up to $500 or more. Also, the debate and rhetoric opportunities are impossible without a solid, organized group.

If you get a good group, I think it is a fair cost now that I've had experience looking at the alternatives.

Could you offset the $$ by tutoring a Foundations class? IMO that would be a much easier investment of your time rather than starting your own 'Challenge-type' group. If there's a CC in your area, you might want to check into that option. You only have to prep an hour or so a week for that, and tutor only 2 1/2 hours!


Does anyone know how much tuition runs for the Foundations program? We've just been introduced to CC ... and I'm going to an open house on Monday for my 4 yo. I'm intrigued by it, but didn't see anything on the CC website about tuition. Is it worth it for a younger one?

#9 NayfiesMama

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:00 PM

I think it's worth it at 4, if your daughter wants to be in a class. Personally, I think the best time to start is 1st grade/age 6. This would take you 2 times through each cycle. This works if your child is obedient. We just had a lousy day in our age 6/7 class; this was our first day back and the just didn't try to listen.. Kids talking all at once.... kids bouncing out of their seat... Just naughty!! And yes, my son is 6 and in there. Bummer for me!! You have to be willing to train... train... train. Of course, there are 4 year olds that are just great for it. I think my daughter would have worked out well. We have a few little children that just participate and are willing to listen. The sing... move around with games.... do little actions... Have fun.... but are willing to sit down when the Tutor says, "Please sit"... or "Don't poke your neighbor..."
BTW... it's a total of about $412 plus a facility fee. Our facility fee added $30. This is for 24 weeks and well worth it... when your child is ready:-)

:-)

#10 Sara in WA

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:01 PM

Your info meeting will have all the fees ready for you. Really, the fees are not much different than many co-ops. And as many have already said, the great thing about CC is the accountability, predictability and high standards. We are involved in the Foundations program and consider it worth every penny. The science experiments and fine arts sections are worth it in my book. (I always said those were areas we would do as homeschoolers and those are areas I never seem to get to.) Once you calculate the per class and then per hour fee, it is very very small for what you receive in return.

And really the tutors and directors work very hard. I have served in both roles. Just like any business or service, the money paid does increase the quality and commitment. Parents are more committed because they are paying tuition. Tutors and directors work very hard because they are earning some money for their time.

Just today at a local coffee shop, my dad was quizzing my kids on their memory work. A man at the next table was eavesdropping and was shocked at what they know. The accountability of CC is great for our family and has taken our homeschooling to a new level.

For youngest kids (like 4yos), you have to decide what you want for your 4yo and what you want to do with your 4yo. Some people are ready to dive in to something like CC and others want to do things more gentle at that age. Last year our class' 4yo was the star student!

Next year we plan to have our 4yo participate, yet he is the youngest of 4 kids.

#11 HerdingCats

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:08 PM

The Foundations program costs around $450 for the year. That includes tuition, supplies fees, facility fees, etc. I would personally wait another year if I were you. In my experience the youngest class was too much at that age. It may also depend on the tutor and how they run/tweak the class, but it is just hard for those kids to stay engaged for that long. She won't miss anything by starting later because the cycles repeat every three years. I think it is a great program, but for my money I would do something else with my 4/5 yo.

#12 VA6336

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:36 PM

Does anyone know how much tuition runs for the Foundations program? We've just been introduced to CC ... and I'm going to an open house on Monday for my 4 yo. I'm intrigued by it, but didn't see anything on the CC website about tuition. Is it worth it for a younger one?


MusicMouseTN, I'm in your town! We participate in Foundations, so I'm going to PM you!

#13 homeschoolally

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 11:43 PM

The Foundations program costs around $450 for the year. That includes tuition, supplies fees, facility fees, etc. I would personally wait another year if I were you. In my experience the youngest class was too much at that age. It may also depend on the tutor and how they run/tweak the class, but it is just hard for those kids to stay engaged for that long. She won't miss anything by starting later because the cycles repeat every three years. I think it is a great program, but for my money I would do something else with my 4/5 yo.

:iagree:

I love CC, but I think it is too much $$ to spend on a 4/5 y/o. I might make an exception if there was an especially talented tutor. IMO, it is unneccessary to go through the cycles more than twice.

#14 angela in ohio

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Posted 14 January 2010 - 11:23 AM

Does anyone know how much tuition runs for the Foundations program? We've just been introduced to CC ... and I'm going to an open house on Monday for my 4 yo. I'm intrigued by it, but didn't see anything on the CC website about tuition. Is it worth it for a younger one?


The tuition for Foundations is $312 plus a $50 registration fee plus a $50 supplies fee. There may also be a facilities fee of $25-50. You will also need to buy materials; you will need to spend at least $150 for those, more if you want flashcards or CDs.

The quality depends greatly on the Director and Tutor. You will want to meet them and get to know them; what experience do they have, what is their understanding of classical education, etc., etc.

#15 Annierocks

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 12:50 AM

Hmm, I guess it depends on your perspective. After paying thousands of dollars on private christian schools for years, $1000 per year is a super bargain for our family. I am new to homeschooling this year, and CC has been a godsend. I have three in Foundations, with one going into Challenge next year. As I sit here looking at the curriculum outline for Challenge A (equivalent to 7th grade), I am thinking I would be hard-pressed to be able to afford different classes (or separate tutors/curricula/books/supplies/travel time) in Latin (which encompasses the English grammar spectrum), Exposition (creative writing, IEW, and literature), Debate/cartography/geography, Research (natural science, anatomy, biology, IEW), Rhetoric (utilizing books on clear reasoning), and Logic (including the Saxon math strand). The continuity between the subjects themselves, not to mention the strands year to year seems invaluable to me. Of course this all depends on the tutor you get, so interviewing/visiting a class is a must. Also, when you take into account the cost savings in college tuition fees after your child CLEPs out of hours and hours of freshman and above courses, it just seems so worth it. We went into this year as a trial, to see if I could 'do it', and I am happy to say, as a first time homeschooler, I am having a blast with the CC curriculum. I am overwhelmed and amazed at the volume of stuff my kids are learning, and myself as well!! I love Foundations, and I am considering putting my almost 4yo in next year, but not completely decided on that yet. The cost factor on books/supplies for next year will be less than this year (not including the Challenge stuff) for Foundations: All three Cycles are in the guide, the Veritas Press flashcards are the same each year, already have the tin whistle for everyone, including myself, lol! The only additional cost I see will be the optional stuff, the CD with all the memory songs, the other resource disk with the maps and supplemental teaching printouts, and the little memory master flashcard set, all for less than $100. We did splurge on the SWB HoTW audio cd set this year and my kids love it, especially the younger ones who don't read yet. I will only have one in Essentials, also FABULOUS imho, so only one set of the IEW consumable workbook. I have not really used my IEW teacher workbook this year, so I will not purchase that next year. We already have the Essentials guide, and the supplemental downloads for that are free. I will probably get some newer resources for next year that they have just come out with, like the science flashcard set, and the Essentials dvds. I am not the most organized person in the world, and the whole concept of not having to juggle three different sets of curriculum for three different age groups is fantastic! The 'community' is not just a co-op. It is incredibly well organized, gives me much needed accountability (I'm an ADD/messie/creative type), the kids love the tutors and the new friends they have made, I have learned so much from the tutors! I couldn't imagine going back to anguish over "what curriculum will I choose" ever again. I don't mean to sound pollyanna about this, but it really has it all (oh, except for the upper elementary math, that I am supplementing till the Challenge years). Even the parent practicum seminars are free! There must be a reason that the groups in our area are bursting at the seams, filling up all available spaces by April or May the year before, having to turn people away. CC must be doing something right, just saying. Everyone warned me that the first year of homeschooling is the worst. Well, if this is the worst, then bring it on!!


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