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JessBurs

Can someone explain classical conversations to me?

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So we have belonged to a great coop for the past few years, but for a variety of reasons we might not be meeting next year. If we do not, the only other option in my area would be Classical Conversations. 

If you do CC is there any room for your own curriculum? I admit that I am very reluctant to join them because it seems so restrictive and I love what we are doing right now in our homeschool. I have a second grader and a kindergartener this year. Unfortunately I have to do a co-op so just not doing one isn't an option.

I know that generally CC the program gets mixed reviews on here, so I am hoping not to start a debate but instead learn a little more about how well I might be able to make it work with a homeschool that has already been working well, if that makes sense.

 

Thanks to anyone who can offer some insight.

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30 minutes ago, JessBurs said:

Unfortunately I have to do a co-op so just not doing one isn't an option.

 

 

Do you feel comfortable elaborating on this? 

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1 minute ago, OKBud said:

 

Do you feel comfortable elaborating on this? 

To make a long story short, my husband was not completely on board initially with homeschooling, he thinks kids need more structure. Joining a co-op where they would have some group learning experiences was our compromise.

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Just now, JessBurs said:

To make a long story short, my husband was not completely on board initially with homeschooling, he thinks kids need more structure. Joining a co-op where they would have some group learning experiences was our compromise.

 

I see!

Well in that case, does it effect matters to know that CC "tutors" are exactly as qualified as you are to teach your kids, and you have to pay CC for the privilege of being taught by them?

You can get the CC products (or similar products) and do it at home. And meet friends at the park or anywhere else for some "group learning" of Red Rover, Red Rover or find-the-birch-trees or kickball or whatever. 

Of course, lots of people love CC. I'm sure some will chime in. It is CERTAINLY appealing. 

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Caveat: I have never been in CC, so my knowledge is secondhand. 

That said, I know a number of people involved in CC (it originated near where I live), and it seems that right now it is embroiled in some major drama over the legalities of some of their communities being hosted by churches. I cannot speak to the details (although if you are on Facebook, you can follow some of the conversation) but I know that a number of CC communities are disbanding and some are reforming as independent classical communities. Others are soldiering on, but it seems there are a lot of unresolved issues at the moment.

I am not taking a side, as I am NOT qualified to do so and have no vested interest one way or another, and there are pretty loud voices coming from both directions. But if I were considering investing my time, money, and family in a program such as this, I'd want to know going in that there were potential issues so that I could ask appropriate questions and make an informed decision. So I'm just throwing that out there. YMMV.

I definitely see the appeal of CC as a social outlet, but it has always been too expensive IMO for what you get academically. If I was in your shoes, however, and needed to choose something out of limited options, I'd definitely consider it. I'd just go in with eyes wide open. Good luck!

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There is also confusion about whether the community directors are truly independent contractors and how CC corporate is handling that when it comes to taxes.

We have CC here and that is about it for co-ops.  Instead, study groups spring up: 3-4 families getting together each week for a single subject.  It might be something to think about with a few friends from the co-op you're leaving.  You can do science labs together, or history projects, or book clubs with the families all doing the reading and studying at home.

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I have been in CC and out of CC.  It did not match my homeschool philosophy, but our friends were there.  And we desperately needed that because we did not have community at church, neighborhood, or anywhere else and I homeschooled during multiple deployments, so I really needed community.  Anyway,  if you can find something else to meet your need/desire for a co-op I would do that instead.  If you do CC and you make the memory work the center of your homeschool, it can really burn out both you and the kids.  There is no way to provide context for the volume of memory work without speeding through things in a crazy manner.  CC will tell you that you don't need context - just memorize and let them learn what it means later.  But I don't think it will really stick with them past the end of the year without context and what are you giving up to accomplish this?  An opportunity to go deeper, to make connections, to really care about what you are learning, etc.  On the other hand, If you decide just to go and not really focus on the memory work during the week, then I think you're sending your kids the message that it's okay to coast, underachieve. 

I agree with pp regarding legal issues.  Plenty of info on facebook.  Also agree with HomeAgain regarding study groups.  That's a really great way to share the load on a subject and get together with friends too.    

 

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So it'll be close to $1000 for both of your kids to attend next year. Maybe that'll be a deterrent? 

DS has done two years of CC because the families that attend are lovely and it's a really good social outlet for him. I basically ignore the curriculum, except for having him work on a presentation each week. We just do our own thing. It works for us for now, but it's not an inexpensive option.

 

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3 hours ago, OKBud said:

 

Well in that case, does it effect matters to know that CC "tutors" are exactly as qualified as you are to teach your kids, and you have to pay CC for the privilege of being taught by them?

 

There are lots of other ways to add structure and group learning experiences to your homeschool without paying lots of money just to have other moms teach your kids. If the current co-op isn't an option, I'd be sitting dh down and renegotiating the deal.

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It's the Papa Murphy's of hsing. You pay for it, you take what you get, and you do all the work!

I've heard this other explanation:  (1) wasn't truly classical, at least at the higher levels, (2) was highly inadequate for a STEM future, and (3) relied on leaders who themselves were often not truly knowledgeable in a subject.

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6 hours ago, Margaret in CO said:

It's the Papa Murphy's of hsing. You pay for it, you take what you get, and you do all the work!

I've heard this other explanation:  (1) wasn't truly classical, at least at the higher levels, (2) was highly inadequate for a STEM future, and (3) relied on leaders who themselves were often not truly knowledgeable in a subject.

I mostly agree with this.  I wouldn't say it's highly inadequate for a STEM future, just that you would probably want to do highschool differently for a STEM major.  Also, I would say the lower levels are definitely not classical, at least not my preferred understanding of classical.  I also agree with the Papa Murphy analogy, except add to that that the quality will be highly variable depending on the leadership of your local campus.  

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We did CC Foundations for three years and it was a very good fit for us at the time.  During Foundations, we were also able to do our own curriculum, but I matched up the content in history and science.  The memory work took just minutes a day and preparing a presentation each week (which was incredibly valuable for my kids) was about 10 minutes of practice each day.  They enjoyed the hands on art and science on CC day and doing a presentation each week really grew my kids in their public speaking skills and confidence.  Essentials was another story--we dropped out two years in a row.  I do not like the Essentials program for many reasons and it did not work for us.  In general though, our years in CC were really great.  We had a wonderful group of friends there and honestly my kids still remember the memory work that we did during those years, especially the history.  We had to leave the program when my daughter got extremely ill her 5th grade year.  By the time she recovered enough for us to commit to any type of group, she would have been in Challenge and I knew that would not be a good fit for her.  In Foundations, you really have a lot of flexibility the rest of the week, but if you enroll a child in Challenge, you are committing to that curriculum in it's entirety and there is not much time during the week for them to do anything else.  

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Another opinion that adding Foundations to your current schedule shouldn't be an issue. Like the poster said above, it really is just 10 minutes or so each day to go through the memory work. Some people do more...it's really up to you.

And though it's a few years away, the lower levels of challenge aren't that time consuming either. We have been able to continue our other curriculum along side it. It's like any other curriculum...you can make it what you need it to be.

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It's the Amway of classical education.

That said, if the local group would provide something you need and you have (a lot of) money to burn, then go for it.

 

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You can do your own curriculum alongside it through third grade. From 4th-6th it takes over writing and grammar (but, I actually think IEW writing is fabulous, so that's fine). In 7th grade it takes over your life. Groups differ in how much they expect kids to practice memory work at home. I'd ask questions about how many kids in the community were memory masters and how much that is pushed. 

I find a lot of what corporate CC pushes to be completely frustrating and mind boggling. However, a lot of decent people belong to groups, so it can provide a good community.

I'd consider starting your own co-op.  

 

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19 minutes ago, staceyobu said:

I find a lot of what corporate CC pushes to be completely frustrating and mind boggling. However, a lot of decent people belong to groups, so it can provide a good community.

At an exorbitant price.  Hanging out with friends should not cost thousands of $$.

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3 hours ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

At an exorbitant price.  Hanging out with friends should not cost thousands of $$.

 

Yeah... this is one of my general complaints. They take over community completely in locations. Then, you have to pay in order to have homeschooling community. While some parents work for them for pennies to actually make it happen. 

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OP, have you looked to see if there is a Schole group in your area?  It's a classical christian co-op.  It might be a better fit (and is likely a lot less expensive).

https://scholegroups.com/find-a-group-near-you/

I have weighed in on here about CC in other threads. You can certainly search for Classical Conversations on here and get lots of input.  

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Re: structure

Look into "extracurricular" options in your area.

In our area, we have plenty. Multiple homeschool field trip groups that meet regularly (set up through facebook.) Homeschool hiking or park group days (i.e. regular contact with homeschooling friends.) Classes offered through gyms, libraries, zoos, and museums (monthly or more frequently.) 

The "online public charter schools" (name varies by state - things like K12) in our state offers once a week classes. Enrolled students have the option of taking a certain number of classes. They even have the option to enroll and not have the state pay for your academic curriculum in exchange for paying for more extracurricular classes. And this whole situation that they have going on benefits traditional homeschoolers too - the homeschool groups that offer classes to meet the needs of these online public schools also offer their classes to regular homeschoolers (for a fee, and with no additional state reporting requirements.)

I've preferred the "pick one day a week (eg. monday) for 'field trip day' and turn it into a routine" ta-da! you've got structure. Add a day (let's say... wednesday?) for library school, and you've got yourself a busy schedule.

Even more "structured" "group learning" type things when you add in things like sunday school, karate classes, swimming classes, soccer team, (etc.) the occasional spring/summer/winter break day camp. (not to say it's a good idea to attempt all of that at once - just listing ideas)

Learning how to interact with other people in a group/class can definitely be a good thing, but too much of it can really be a bad thing for some kids/in some cases. Mine learns better one on one. Putting him in a class situation for his core classes would turn him into a "passive learner." He's had tons of group opportunities, but he's not the type to raise his hand and answer or ask questions in a group setting. As a result, he doesn't learn as much. I'd be really hesitant to turn the majority of his learning over to a group setting (especially one like CC that basically limits/dictates what I teach)

 

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Just now, Petrichor said:

Re: structure

Look into "extracurricular" options in your area.

 

 

I mean, I know you said CC is your only option left, but wanted to bring up some of those things in case you haven't considered them- things like afterschool classes (like the public school kids might participate in) or classes that non-homeschool groups might offer to homeschoolers (like museums). These sorts of things don't call themselves co-ops but can fulfill the same need.

 

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10 hours ago, Petrichor said:

 

I mean, I know you said CC is your only option left, but wanted to bring up some of those things in case you haven't considered them- things like afterschool classes (like the public school kids might participate in) or classes that non-homeschool groups might offer to homeschoolers (like museums). These sorts of things don't call themselves co-ops but can fulfill the same need.

 

Definitely this.
Around here we have 4H, scouts, church groups, rec center classes, community classes, library book clubs, sports...and I live in a small-ish town.  My kid has a nice weekly schedule that balances town activities with homeschool ones.

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5 hours ago, HomeAgain said:

Definitely this.
Around here we have 4H, scouts, church groups, rec center classes, community classes, library book clubs, sports...and I live in a small-ish town.  My kid has a nice weekly schedule that balances town activities with homeschool ones.

My kids did lots of those things, with swimming, other sports (one dd ended up Lettering 9 times in 5 different sports), 4-H, Arabian horse, 4-H (including chickens, ducks, turkeys, horses, steers, sheep, (at one point we had over 100), cakes, candy, weaving, spinning, welding, archery, .22, and I'm sure I'm forgetting some), college orchestra, skiing (lots of skiing--we have a ski hill on the far side of the ranch), book club, piano, cello, trumpet, violin, string ensemble, jobs, drama, kayaking, Scouts, and lots of other things. Yeah, it's a lot of work. I used to drive 6 hours for cello lessons, when dd outgrew our local guy. I used to drive 4 hours for youth orchestra and spend the entire day twice a month. Swimming? Closest meet was 3 hours of driving. X-c, yeah, Nationals are a long ways away. In our town, it's not necessary to pay CC's ridiculous prices for their second-rate education. If I'm going to pay those prices, I want at least a master's, preferably a doctorate, not some mom who barely has a high school education and is proud of the fact that she's "staying one step ahead of the kids".  Not interested in a mom who thinks she understands speech and debate, and rhetoric. Nope!

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On 4/4/2019 at 10:35 PM, mom2scouts said:

There are lots of other ways to add structure and group learning experiences to your homeschool without paying lots of money just to have other moms teach your kids. If the current co-op isn't an option, I'd be sitting dh down and renegotiating the deal.

 

On 4/5/2019 at 9:13 PM, Petrichor said:

 

I mean, I know you said CC is your only option left, but wanted to bring up some of those things in case you haven't considered them- things like afterschool classes (like the public school kids might participate in) or classes that non-homeschool groups might offer to homeschoolers (like museums). These sorts of things don't call themselves co-ops but can fulfill the same need.

 

Do you have local museums or zoos that offer classes to homeschoolers? What about karate or dance classes? Gymnastics? Scouts? 

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I started and ran a secular co-op for about 5 years, but it's now defunct. CC is definitely one of the strongest influences in the area now, although there are a couple of Christian co-ops still around. There is a secular group (spun off from the previous co-op) that meets at a forest preserve one day a week, but they are expensive for what they offer in my opinion. 

So we now do a variety of things for social activities/structure. Your kids are young; I'd look into getting them into 1 day of classes (for DH's peace of mind) and then set up a structure with a routine.

Classes could be found at museums, libraries, scouts, 4H, or a co-op. Maybe a rec sport would be enough for you? 

My structure at that age would look like: one day a week would be class (whatever you decide), one day would have a library trip (storytime?), one day a week park day or field trip.

Edited by beckyjo
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I would, and have, put my kids in public school over CC.  CC is the only co-op or homeschool activity anymore in my area and I have been wholly unimpressed by what I’ve seen.  No offense, but I have several degrees, and one is basically in classics(my college called it something different).   Why am I going to pay thousands of dollars for a mom with a high school education to teach my kids something I hold a B.A. in?

Socialization and structure is necessary in our family, and my kids are(mostly) thriving in public school.

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I've been on both sides of the CC fence.  We did it a few years ago in our last location and left after a year because I needed my kids to be in a 2 day/week tutorial the next year (for my sanity!)  We've since moved and CC is the only hs'ing outlet in my rural area and it's still 45 minutes away.  Do I think it's the end all-be all of homeschooling?  No way! But (and this is a huge BUT), it lets my daughters be around other kids and in a "safe" environment.  The community is definitely worth it to me.  I also think the Essentials program in the afternoon is really good and my girls love it.   It gives us a way to do art projects, science experiments, field trips, etc. I also like that my girls get a public speaking opportunity each week.  The Foundations memory work can be your spine or not and you can do as little or as much with it as you want.  I find great freedom in that.  We go over the memory work each day and if there's time, we'll watch science or history videos pertaining to our memory work. The first time we did it, I tried to do too much and got burned out.  This time, I'm not stressing about it.  It's only 24 weeks of our school year so there's plenty of other weeks to do other things if we need to.  Again, for us, it's great for community, which we don't really have otherwise.  

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