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Is the Classical Conversations memory work (specifically Foundations program) enough for grammar stage kids?

 

I have been going back and forth on this issue for quite some time and need some help being 100% convinced.  Yes, I want proof, so to speak.  Is it truly effective to have them just memorize all of this information, without much context or additional info?  Many people say that if you do CC you don't need to do anything else.  Others add in some additional language arts, math, and maybe science.  

 

As of right now, instead of CC, I am prepared to use a full Language Arts program (either Phonics Road to Spelling and Reading or Logic of English, Essentials), a History program (History Odyssey along with SOTW), a math program (combination of Singapore & Math Mammoth until I figure out which I like better), a science program (REAL Science Odyssey), and Art (which we will add in as we're able).  I have all of this curricula ready to go.  I've spent hours and hours selecting them. 

 

But I keep coming back to CC.  And the idea that maybe all that curricula is not the best use of their brains at this stage.  Maybe I really just need to pack in as many facts ("pegs") as possible right now without them needing (or wanting) to understand it right now.  I know that they love memorization and excel at it at this age.  

 

I guess I want to be 100% sure that the memorization is enough and that it will be of more help to them when they're older (logic and rhetoric stages) than fleshing everything out at this young age.

 

Sorry so long.  Can you help?

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Have you read The Core? They say you need to add in math and LA. The memory work isn't enough in those areas. I do think it is enough for science and history until about 4th or 5th grade. My DS10 asks to know more about the sentences and retains more information when he seeks it out. My youngest, seems to hold on to that memory work though but dumps other information out of his brain. I still do those other subjects but take a lighter approach. I focus heavily on the basics such as handwriting, spelling, copywork, reading, math, etc.

 

My BF insists it is enough. She did MFW with her kids who are now in Challenge and says they don't remember much of it but the CC memory work stuck. These are really smart kids too and they are doing well in the challenge classes.

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I think memorization is very important but I don't think CC alone is enough or the right thing for everyone. Our two years of CC actually decreased my daughter's innate curiosity and her enjoyment of acquiring learning and made her resentful of having to repeat things so many times. She constantly asked for more information about the memory work. We decided to adapt the CC memory work to match up with our chosen curricula and to memorize in context. We will not be joining the CC community but including memory work every day. You could use any curriculum like MFW or whichever and add in memory sentences to go with it for those "pegs".

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thegirlwhopaintedtrees,

What is your "chosen curricula"?  I'm curious what you ended up using instead and that seems to be working for you.  Also, what age was your daughter when she was was in CC and was constantly asking for more information?  Thanks!

 

jannylynn,

thanks for the info.  The part about your BF's kids who are now in Challenge and got more out of the CC memory work than their chosen currculum...that's very convincing.

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I wouldn't think it was enough. I would absolutely add math and LA as a minimum and if we did CC (we considered it) we would add context for history and science even if it was light. I have friends that do CC and it is treated as memory work, not the only thing they so for homeschool. I can't imagine not doing math and LA.

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I, personally, do not think that being able to recite a timeline of events, with no knowledge of what those events are, or say 24 short sentences about history equals a history curriculum. I also don't think it is the most appealing approach to elementary education. Why not provide a child with stories and activities instead of just giving a fact to memorize? They learn the facts either way, but adding context gives a child more knowledge and hopefully a more fulfilling experience. I'm baffled at the increasing number of people I know that think a child being able to parrot back a few facts equals a great foundation. I'm also baffled that they think my approach of SOTW, additional historical fiction, narration, coloring pages, map work, and activities is somehow sub par.

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I did few years of CC foundations .. even tutored a few classes.

*I* believe the history pegs hold better with stories.  So when we did it we read related stories like those from SOTW or the Guerber history books or even various books from the library on the current week's topic.  

Something Nebel's Elementary Science was good for the science but so were books from the library for the younger years.

 

Now we definitely needed to do LA and math separately.  CC doesn't teach how to read, how to write, how to spell, comprehension on reading, or anything deeper then facts for the math.

 

Also remember that for long term understanding, the CC memory work is intended as a baseline for the CC Challenge program.  So I gather that those facts will be useful in their later studies... that is those classes will refer back to these facts and build on them and make connections.  

 

ymmv

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I want to repeat that CC's Leigh Bourtons does not advocate that a parent not teach LA and mathematics and only use the memory work for those subjects. Just the opposite, in fact. We focus hard on those subjects to ready our children for the dialectic and rhetoric stages of learning.

 

I'm going to back up and explain a bit more. Most CC families I know add in more study to the memory work. I read or assign SOTW and Apologia to my children and do narrations or paragraph summaries depending on age. I don't coordinate with CC memory work. We do blob mapwork from the CC Geography. We also read the back of the timeline cards when we need to learn more about what we are memorizing and often use them for keyword outlining or short paragraph practice. But we do focus heavily on memory work, because I haven't found the extra to stick as well as the memory work until around 4th grade (YMMV), when they start to exit the grammar/parrot stage and start asking more about the sentences. That's my personal experience that happens to follow what is written in The Core. The idea is that they are always hanging things on those pegs and sometimes it begins with the memory work and other times it is something they read or experience. The method isn't to just teach them nothing but the memory work, but rather to focus on making sure the memory work sticks as a basic set of knowledge. And it doesn't have to be written by Classical Conversations either.

 

My DD is going into Challenge I and didn't learn the CC memory work. She's doing very well with the few years of SOTW and Apologia science. I can't say she remembers everything and it isn't as focused as my boys are getting with CC. I personally would not say another approach is subpar to CC.

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Is it truly effective to have them just memorize all of this information, without much context or additional info?  Many people say that if you do CC you don't need to do anything else.  Others add in some additional language arts, math, and maybe science.

 

Those are two very different questions.

 

 

1 - is CC a stand-alone program? Absolutely not. I don't know *anyone* (including CC themselves) who would call CC in the elementary years a full education. You must add in language arts (literature, reading/spelling, handwriting, composition, & grammar), as well as math. CC is a supplement. In addition to the above, we add in non-CC history, science, & Spanish.

 

2 - is it effective to memorize all this stuff? In our house, absolutely! My kids have some developmental challenges. We started CC solely for social reasons. I had NO hopes of my kids learning any of the material. When we started, my kids could not follow 2 step instructions. The improvement through practicing CC memory work has been nothing short of amazing. I assume practicing what was for them a weakness built up that "muscle". They are so much better able to cope with life - they can remember instructions, dance routines, our phone number, etc. I don't know that kids who didn't have these weaknesses would see that kind of result, but for us, it has been life-changing!

 

Also, everytime we come across some piece of information in our regular schoolwork that we have previously learned in CC, my kids are SO much more interested in learning about it! It amazes me that stuff we hadn't seen/heard in 2 years comes back instantly when they hear it mentioned in Story of the World or whatever.

 

I do give my kids some background about as much of the CC memory work as I have time for. We don't spend a lot of time on it, but I do try to read a Let's Read & Find Out science book, watch a Bill Nye video, read a few main sentences from the back of the timeline card, or whatever. But that is under "memory work" as a subject, and is completely separate from our regular history & science. I used to stress about them not being perfectly aligned, but I am finding that for long-term retention it is actually good to have them spaced a bit!

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Ok, I'm actually glad to hear what I'm hearing so far.  My feeling and inclination has always been to, as Megan stated above, include CC memory work as a separate subject called "Memory Work," but still go through my own History and Science curricula as much as possible, while putting the primary focus on Language Arts and Math.  I just re-read the grammar section in WTM and one of my big take-aways was that Reading, Spelling, Grammar, Writing and Math should always be the priority in the grammar years.  And if you're able to work in some history and science too, great.

 

So I guess that leads me to a different question (maybe I need a new thread?).  If I'm just using the CC memory work as a supplement or as its own "subject" (for lack of better word), then there shouldn't be any reason I couldn't just incorporate CC into what we do at home...and not join a CC community, right?  I would really (emphasis on reeeeaaallly) need to justify spending $700-800 per year to enroll my 2 girls.  And because we have a really terrific homeschooling group that we are active with, we don't necessarily need it for the social aspect (yes, it's a great bonus, but maybe not $800 worth?).  And between friends who participate in CC, and forums like these (and all the amazing blogs), I can get the CC support I need.  Other than having that accountability to keep me on track and moving forward, I'm not sure enrolling is justified (for ME personally).

 

I have several related questions, so I may post new threads.  But I want to keep hearing feedback on all this...especially my original question.  

 

 

 

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We're joining CC this year with a 6th, 3rd and K'er.  I adore MFW and have no intentions of leaving it at this time, but I was really looking for something where both the kids AND I were involved in a community.  I currently have the kids in things where THEY are in a community, but I'm not a fully vested part of it.  That is what I'm looking forward to with CC.  We will be using MFW (RTR) for our main curriculum, and using the CC memory work as simply another subject.  For my 6th grader, she will be in Essentials, so she will be getting her grammar/writing from CC, which I'm grateful for as I feel like I'm dropping the ball in that area (writing specifically).  We haven't started yet, so take this with a grain of salt, I'm just saying how WE'RE going to be working it this year :)

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  I would really (emphasis on reeeeaaallly) need to justify spending $700-800 per year to enroll my 2 girls.  And because we have a really terrific homeschooling group that we are active with, we don't necessarily need it for the social aspect (yes, it's a great bonus, but maybe not $800 worth?). 

 

FWIW, I saved lots by becoming a tutor.... so if you feel you reeeeally want the co-op then look into that option.

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Kathie, I actually am inquiring about tutoring.  I would love the help with tuition...I just found out it will actually be $925 for 2 kids.  Yikes!  Do you find that tutoring takes up a lot more of your time during the week than if you weren't tutoring?

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Kathie, I actually am inquiring about tutoring.  I would love the help with tuition...I just found out it will actually be $925 for 2 kids.  Yikes!  Do you find that tutoring takes up a lot more of your time during the week than if you weren't tutoring?

I tutored Foundations last year. I took about 2 hours each week for prep. Some of it bled into our actual instruction at home time since we worked a week ahead. I spent most of my time prepping for the science experiments and fine arts.

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I tutored for a number of years, sometimes both Foundations and Essentials, and like any teaching job, the first few months is the hardest.  After that I usually did my studying and planning while mine were at martial arts, and then it took less than an hour to run things off, organize, and pack the day before class.

 

Teaching full content takes much more time IMHO because you're presenting the nuances and evaluating for a grade.  In CC (even Essentials to an extent), you're presenting it at a basic level and coaching, and it stops there.

 

And yes, we always looked at CC as an add-on.  For most of our CC years, I used CLE math, Sonlight history/lit, BJUP science, HWT, and Rod and Staff Phonics followed by Spelling Workout.

 

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Ok, I'm actually glad to hear what I'm hearing so far.  My feeling and inclination has always been to, as Megan stated above, include CC memory work as a separate subject called "Memory Work," but still go through my own History and Science curricula as much as possible, while putting the primary focus on Language Arts and Math.  I just re-read the grammar section in WTM and one of my big take-aways was that Reading, Spelling, Grammar, Writing and Math should always be the priority in the grammar years.  And if you're able to work in some history and science too, great.

 

So I guess that leads me to a different question (maybe I need a new thread?).  If I'm just using the CC memory work as a supplement or as its own "subject" (for lack of better word), then there shouldn't be any reason I couldn't just incorporate CC into what we do at home...and not join a CC community, right?  I would really (emphasis on reeeeaaallly) need to justify spending $700-800 per year to enroll my 2 girls.  And because we have a really terrific homeschooling group that we are active with, we don't necessarily need it for the social aspect (yes, it's a great bonus, but maybe not $800 worth?).  And between friends who participate in CC, and forums like these (and all the amazing blogs), I can get the CC support I need.  Other than having that accountability to keep me on track and moving forward, I'm not sure enrolling is justified (for ME personally).

 

I have several related questions, so I may post new threads.  But I want to keep hearing feedback on all this...especially my original question.  

 

Here is where it broke down for me.  It was too hard to make everything match up to CC's memory work because to me it is so random.  So we did our own history and science.  But then we had all this extra memory work that didn't fit with what we were learning at home.  It became a little too much random information.  I watched their curiosity dwindle as they became parrots.

 

I would much rather use memory work that fits with our studies.  In fact this year, we are actually going to use CC history sentences as long as they match what we've covered. (we will not be attending CC)  So if we read a history story that CC has a sentence for, we will learn that sentence when we are done reading.  (I really like the history songs)  Since we are studying the Middle Ages this coming fall, we will continue memorizing that portion of the timeline as we go.  I personally prefer to explore first, memorize next.  For me, quality wins over quantity.  CC was too much quantity for us.

 

So, yes, to the rest of your post.  :)

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CC was strictly a supplement for us and a way to meet others who were homeschooling. We did not do memory master and used our own curricula. We did review the memory work but not on a daily basis. OTOH essentials was a good experience, but again we used our own curricula as well. We did spend a lot of time on the IEW theme book writing in essentials ans enjoyed that. We did review the grammar but only reviewed the grammar and did not memorize it.

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I, personally, do not think that being able to recite a timeline of events, with no knowledge of what those events are, or say 24 short sentences about history equals a history curriculum. I also don't think it is the most appealing approach to elementary education. Why not provide a child with stories and activities instead of just giving a fact to memorize? They learn the facts either way, but adding context gives a child more knowledge and hopefully a more fulfilling experience. I'm baffled at the increasing number of people I know that think a child being able to parrot back a few facts equals a great foundation. I'm also baffled that they think my approach of SOTW, additional historical fiction, narration, coloring pages, map work, and activities is somehow sub par.

The problem is that not all kids will "learn the facts either way.". For my daughter SOTW was not enough. She didn't really retain the facts. She could tell me the story but couldn't remember who the characters were. For her, I have to be more intentional with learning the facts. She enjoys SOTW, but CC really helps her retain information. This will be our third year with CC. I don't know anyone who just memorized the facts only past maybe third grade. We memorize out of context but follow a separate history curriculum. Last year, we memorized the history timeline, the history sentences, read SOTW I again, outlined the ancient section of the Usborne Encyclopedia, and read some historical fiction. I am surprised that anyone would think SOTW is subpar. In our community, it is a staple of most people's history curriculum.

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If you are mostly interested in the memory work aspect (not community or accountability), I suggest taking a look at Living Memory. This link gives a pretty good description, and links to the Lulu storefront: http://www.thecurriculumchoice.com/2009/06/living-memory-a-classical-memory-work-companion-by-andrew-campbell/

 

Sorry, but the site is not letting me do pretty little named links, lol.

 

Living Memory does a lot of the scut work for you - everything is in a lovely package - but still lets you pick and choose what memory work to do when. It includes tips for memory work, and some historical context. I found it well worth the money.

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Another person here who will be doing CC as an additional 'subject' beginning this year.  We have favorite curriculum in each content area that we'll continue to utilize, but will add in CC memory work and Essentials to provide community and accountability. I've been at this long enough (we're beginning our 7th year homeschooling) to know that doing it on our own just isn't the same.  We all really rise to the challenge and have much more fun when we're in a community of like-minded kids/parents, not to mention have firm due dates and deadlines.  

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If I'm just using the CC memory work as a supplement or as its own "subject" (for lack of better word), then there shouldn't be any reason I couldn't just incorporate CC into what we do at home...and not join a CC community, right?

The CC morning has 5 parts (after our morning assembly with Pledge of Allegiance & so on):

.

- new grammar (which is the new memory work - 7 high-level timeline events per week, a detailed history sentence about one topic, science, Eng grammar, Latin, math, & geography)

.

- presentations - each kid does one every week. For the younger kids, it's basically show & tell. My kids were 1st graders last year - they did maybe 2/3 show & tell, and 1/3 academic topics. The ratio goes to more academic as they get older. Most of the older kids pick one of the pieces of memory work from the week before as a topic. For example, the week after you are to learn the 7 biomes, they might explain what a biome is, and tell what the 7 are and describe the characteristics of each. Or they might give a 5 minute presentation fleshing out the history sentence. So they learn a lot about one, and hear everyone else's presentations and learn a little about all the others.

.

- science project or demonstration

.

- fine arts - 1st quarter drawing, 2nd quarter tin whistle (like a recorder/flute), 3rd quarter famous artist study & art project, 4th quarter orchestra & famous composer study & listen to work

.

- review the old grammar (the memory work from prior weeks)

 

 

That goes til noon. After that, we eat lunch together, then our campus has enrichments from 1 to 2 and from 2 to 3. We have had Lego club, martial arts, Playball (sports skills), art, etc.

 

It's been a great place for me to find like-minded homeschoolers. Most of the other co-ops in our area lean more towards unschooling than classical.

 

So it isn't *just* memory work, but that is a large part of it. It's memory work, public speaking skills, science demonstrations, fine arts, social for kids & for me, being in a class environment while mommas are right there encouraging appropriate behavior, an environment a little different than home that encourages memorization (they want to learn it b/c their friends are learning it!), enrichments, etc. We also do a fair number of field trips together.

 

You could just buy CC's materials and do the memory work (or buy one of the other memory products on the market - I really like Living Memory). But no, that is not the same as joining a CC campus. I think a lot depends on how much value you place on that other stuff, as well as how easily you can get that other stuff in other places, as to whether or not it is worth it in time & money. For us, it has been well worth the price. But I know for some others, it has not.

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Here is where it broke down for me.  It was too hard to make everything match up to CC's memory work because to me it is so random.  So we did our own history and science.  But then we had all this extra memory work that didn't fit with what we were learning at home.  It became a little too much random information.  I watched their curiosity dwindle as they became parrots.

 

I would much rather use memory work that fits with our studies.  In fact this year, we are actually going to use CC history sentences as long as they match what we've covered. (we will not be attending CC)  So if we read a history story that CC has a sentence for, we will learn that sentence when we are done reading.  (I really like the history songs)  Since we are studying the Middle Ages this coming fall, we will continue memorizing that portion of the timeline as we go.  I personally prefer to explore first, memorize next.  For me, quality wins over quantity.  CC was too much quantity for us.

 

So, yes, to the rest of your post.   :)

I sat down with my SOTW volume for the year and compared it to the CC history sentences as well as the timeline events, and wrote the CC info into my SOTW book. Then we review the CC stuff when we hit it in SOTW. They are always so proud to "surprise" me by remember way more than I thought they could! (Quite the fun game to shock Momma at how smart they are!)

 

So we do the CC stuff separately as a "memory work" subject, then review it as part of our regular curriculum when we come across it. Learning it in two different areas has been very helpful for my kids - they need that extra review.

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The problem is that not all kids will "learn the facts either way.". For my daughter SOTW was not enough. She didn't really retain the facts. She could tell me the story but couldn't remember who the characters were. For her, I have to be more intentional with learning the facts. She enjoys SOTW, but CC really helps her retain information. This will be our third year with CC. I don't know anyone who just memorized the facts only past maybe third grade. We memorize out of context but follow a separate history curriculum. Last year, we memorized the history timeline, the history sentences, read SOTW I again, outlined the ancient section of the Usborne Encyclopedia, and read some historical fiction. I am surprised that anyone would think SOTW is subpar. In our community, it is a staple of most people's history curriculum.

That is exactly my kids. SOTW on its own wasn't enough. It's an amazing part of our homeschool (both my kids and my favorite part!), but my kids just don't remember with one pass through. Exposure through one and mastery through the other has been much more effective for them. Both facts & story stick when they get it in two different ways/places.

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PS - I love our CC community, but would not be nearly as happy if we attended any of the others in our area. Each community is very different from the others based on the director and members.

 

One local campus near me is extremely fundamentalist Christian, which I am not. Another campus near me is a bunch of hippies, which I am not. (I am somewhere in the middle, as are most in my community.)

 

One of the communities near us has a very high rate of kids achieving Memory Master. After a certain age, it is definitely expected, and those who don't/can't make it complain of feeling made to feel inferior. It's a high pressure, competitive campus altogether.

 

Another local campus hasn't ever had a Memory Master. No one studies anything at home. It's a very expensive social time every week. Again, our campus is somewhere in the middle. We had two Memory Masters last year. A number of others made an effort but didn't get there. Almost all the families review the work at home each week. We are somewhere in the middle, and for us, it's a good fit! If we were at a campus that was much more competitive, or much more relaxed, I wouldn't be nearly as happy.

 

I highly recommend meeting the director & some of the families, and if at all possible going to observe for a day before deciding to join a CC community. If there are several communities in your area, I highly recommend visiting them all to see which would be the best fit.

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For us we do CC as a separate subject.  I look books on the subject matter and have a book basket along with what we are working on in our science and where we are in history.  Some times she reads them some times she does.  Sometimes she will go and google what she wants to learn about.  She gets really excited when she learns something in history/science or where ever that we have sung on CC

 

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Kathie, I actually am inquiring about tutoring.  I would love the help with tuition...I just found out it will actually be $925 for 2 kids.  Yikes!  Do you find that tutoring takes up a lot more of your time during the week than if you weren't tutoring?

Well yes, if I'm tutoring I prep for that ... so there's always some time needed.

The amount varied based on:

 a- the level of kids that I was tutoring... I've done 6th graders, 5th graders, and 5 year olds ... and the each have different challenges

 b- the week... some weeks I put more into it than others for whatever reason

 c- my energy level... if I was just really tired we did the basics in class and moved one... I prepped a bunch of methods/tools to pick from ahead of time

 

so sometimes I spend maybe 30 minutes prepping and other times I spent a few hours ... 

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We haven't started CC yet, but I am organizing for our fall initiation.  I found a one week planner form at www.halfahundredacrewood.com which I am delighted to use.  It actually has 13 subjects listed with columns for Days 1 - 5.  Thus, there is a need by a lot of people to add more subjects.  I will list the subjects and what we hope to use for each one for my rising 6th grader:

 

Bible/Foundations Memory Work (and probably 'A Young Person's Guide to Knowing God')

Saxon Math

Essentials for English Grammar

Phonetic Zoo for Spelling

IEW for Writing (and WWS for 'off' weeks)

Memoria Press Lit. Guides and various Readers and RAs from Sonlight, etc. for Reading

Mystery of History II for History & Timeline

Geography (just review Foundations plus mapping from MOH)

Apologia General Science

First Form Latin

Prescripts Cursive by CC for Handwriting (Fine Arts section)

P.E.  - add in our own

Other Activities (not sure yet)

 

I am even going to have my dc go in the same order as how these above subjects are listed.  Hope I am not crazy for thinking that we will be able to do all the above.  Note that our dd has a late November b-day so she has already completed 6th grade subjects this past year while still in "5th" grade.

 

I love reading everyone's ideas...both experienced and newbies!

 

Blessings,

Brenda

 

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This is all such great information and so helpful.  

 

Katilac, thank you so much for recommending Living Memory.  I had never heard of it and it looks very interesting.  I read the sample pages from the book and he makes so many astute points, that I'm really sold on memorization overall. 

 

MeganW, you make a lot of good points...and I appreciate the reminder of all the extra stuff that goes on at CC that is really valuable (presentation time, art, music, etc.).  I think you're right about visiting the different campuses because I have visited 5 campuses in 2 different states and each had it's own unique characteristics.  I would be right where you are...somewhere in the middle between the fundamentalists and the hippies.  :)

 

 

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