Topic | Classical Conversations?

This topic contains 19 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Renee Gould 9 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • wearejenandkev

    Hi!  I was wondering if anyone had any experience with Classical Conversations.  We use mostly CM-friendly stuff for our homeschool- and I plan on continuing with CM!  But, a friend of mine is encouraging me to join a Classical Conversations group that is forming in my town.  I have no plan to change my curriculum or teaching style the rest of our school days, but I was thinking about looking into it just for the social aspect.  But, I have done a little research and am questioning whether that is a good idea.  I like the things they are teaching the kids, but I am not so sure about the methods of delivery.  It seems really hard core!  I am okay with helping  my boys  memorize some things  in prep for the day they attend their class, but I don’t want to change all my lessons/teaching style.  Anybody out there been to a Classical Conversations group?  Can I continue doing CM style and attend the Classical Conversation groups simultaneously (with success!)?  I don’t know if it makes a difference, but I have 3 boys-8,6, and 2.  Thanks for the input!



    I’ve never done it, but there is a group in my area.  My impression is that it would be a lot of work if you weren’t following the Veritas curriculum.  I don’t think the philosophy in the younger years blends well with CM–rote memorization of facts that I don’t think they even always understand.  But take this with a grain—-I’ve never done it!  If you have other social avenues I think it would be a lot less stress.  Hopefully someone with experience will chime in:)  Gina

    P.S.  For social outlets, my kids’ closest relationships are those kids they regularly PLAY with.  Classroom friends have been o.k., but not their good buddies.  Just my .02:)


    I’ve had a couple people try to talk me into CC also.  I won’t do it because it’s too much work and in my NSHO does not inspire a love of learning.  Check you local homeschool group for interaction, or go to a bookstore in the middle of the day, you are sure to meet fellow homeschoolers that way!


    I have their CD which I use sporadically for memory.  A friend is trying to get us to join a group, too, but I’m not willing to go that route.


    Thanks for the help!  I haven’t decided yet, but you have given me some things to think about!  I don’t want to take the time to memorize bunch of stuff that they don’t know anything about.  I would be okay with them knowing it, but I am wondering if it would stress me out!  But, I like that the group will be right around the corner from my house!  We don’t know very many homeschoolers that have kids my age….maybe I should make more of an effort in that area before making a decision!   Thanks!



    Our family is VERY Charlotte Mason-ish (we always called our philosophy Relaxed Classical with a Charlotte Mason twist) and we LOVED Classical Conversations last year.  Long story short, I had the opportunity to tutor for the group (so it didn’t cost me any $$) and we gave it a go.  I didn’t change our home curriculum a bit, besides going over the timeline and memory verse every morning.  We did completely different things in history and science at home- nothing related to the CC facts.  We simply played the CC CD in the car and sometimes before bed.  Oh, and the kids did have to do an oral report for CC each week.  They loved the class!  I can’t believe how many facts they learned.  It was frankly AMAZING, more amazing because of how much fun they had doing it!

    The kids did make LOTS of connections, though.  If we were at a museum or watching a show or reading a book when the name of a famous person from their timeline or history sentence popped up, they were so excited because they already felt familiar with that person (even though they had memorized those names without beginning with any connections).

    We added a foster/adopt son halfway through the year and I was even more amazed to see how he adored CC.  He hated school and loved homeschooling, so I didn’t know how the classroom situation would go for him at CC.  I can only speak for our group, but the class is extremely active – lots of singing, game playing, jumping around.  It’s not at all like what I had in mind for a formal classical school!  

    Tutoring was also a load of fun.  I can’t believe how much I learned!

    Anyway, just wanted to chime in that you can partake in CC without sacrificing your Charlotte Mason ideals.  In fact, we had struggled with memory work for years and I felt that CC actually freed me up to spend more time reading living books and letting the kids do a little bit of “unschooling” (or delight-directed schooling)!


    Hi!  I just thought I’d chime in with my 2 cents…….

    While I haven’t actually done CC, a good friend of mine has and has tutored.  She’s given me the complete run-down and I’ve visited a CC group for a day to get a good feel for it.  

    Her advice to me was that if you want the long term benefit of CC, it is so beneficial to start it when they are young and stick with it.  (I suppose you could start later, say, in middle school, but you wouldn’t have that same foundation)  As you may know, by memorizing all the facts, you are creating “pegs of knowledge” that you will later add understanding to.  The classes look fun, and the children seem to really enjoy it.  I wouldn’t think that kids would enjoy rote memorization, but somehow with CC they actually do seem to find it fun!  Then there is the social aspect, and that is really my main temptation to join, as our group has some amazing godly families that I would love to be around more and have my kids around as well.  

    However, with all of that said, I do have my concerns…which echo what some of the others have said.  I prefer the gentle art of learning that a CM education provides and I prefer narration to help knowledge stick over rote memorization.  Also, this will be our first year of homeschooling, and I want to make sure that I don’t overload our weeks.  It’s most important to me this year to have very light commitments, not much at all outside of church things.  Also, my daughter has other avenues right now for social interaction, and besides, I don’t think she really needs that much outside of our family at the age of 7.  

    After considering these things and praying about, (and talking about it to DH a ton!)  I don’t think we’ll do it this year.  After this year, I may take another look at CC and see if there is a need for more social interaction.  If we did do it though, I think I would pretty much do what burtmommie said she does…I would try to stick with our CM plan and do CC as much or little as I felt appropriate.  

    HTH, and sorry if that is more info than you wanted, that was just my process for considering whether or not to join. Remember – pray about all things…Philippians 4:6-7  Smile



    We are considering Classical Conversations for the fall. Last year, I felt that CC was too expensive and not a good fit for my five yr. old son. This year, he has matured in a way that makes it a great fit but it is still expensive. In the mean time, I have started my own co-op which is far more relaxed and is just plain cheap. Good quality materials but we aren’t paying teachers/tutors so our costs are simply for materials.

    My pros for doing Classical Conversations instead of my current co-op are:

    1) CC is going to be available year after year with a consistent curriculum.

    2) CC provides a quality curriculum, especially if you supplement with Story of the World or Living Books.

    3) The goal of CC is to support families in their homeschooling 

    The cons for CC are:

    1) It is just plain expensive. $412 in tutition and then books/CD costs on top of that

    2) It would require some work to help it meet Charlotte Mason’s more “gentle” (or natural) education philosophies



    Thank you, burtmommie, for your comment!  It was SO helpful!  We’re considering CC this upcoming year.  It’s the closest co op to us with a lot of familiar faces.

    In my research, I really like the public speaking aspect and learning Latin in the later years.  And it’s not like they are memorizing for a test and then forgetting about it.  They will be pulling this info from their memory banks in later years.  The director of our local one makes it seem like it’s not a lot of work (at least in the beginning?).  Play the CDs in the car…review the cards a few minutes a day.

    If we do enroll with CC, I plan to continue with my eclectic CM style.  Lots of living books to go along with what they’re learning in history.

    Praying for wisdom for both of us 🙂


    CC doesn’t dictate how you homeschool in the younger years but once you get to the challenge program, it becomes your complete curriculum. It also grows progressively more expensive for the upper years.



    We were members of CC last year and found it very difficult, mostly because if you aren’t following the proscribed curriculum, the coursework is just too much to add to what you are already doing. If you are looking for a starting point that you can design a CM curriculum around, then I think it could work, but I would emphasize that the way material is presented is not really CM. For me, it was an irritation to have my children sit in class and go over memory work with very little of the context which would make the memory work interesting and/or memorable. There is also a gimicky, games and treats type of reward system that I personally felt uncomfortable with, and felt to be different from Charlotte’s ideas of learning. I did enjoy the relationships I created with other moms, but there was very little time for children to interact or have discussion in class – it was very much teacher-led. In order to rectify this, there were many outside opportunities for social interaction, which took a lot of time out of the school schedule at home. This led to a loss of the quality time we would otherwise have spent on filling in some of the gaps I felt were present in the CC class time.  So I guess I would say that if you are interested in designing your curriculum around what they are presenting to the children in the weekly class, then it could be of benefit. But if you are looking for something truly CM in nature, then I think you would be happier looking for a CM coop. A group of friends and I ended up starting our own after the CC experience, and we have been thrilled with the experience. We are also spending about a tenth of what it cost me to participate in CC this past year ($335 per elementary age child, so close to $1000).


    Background info: We have 8 (going on 9 children), and have been homeschooling for 15 years. My oldest is 18 and a senior. We use CM methods and Heart of Dakota (boxed CM curriculum) for him (and our other kids)until his Junior year of high school. He did one year of dual-enrollment online and is in CC’s Challenge 4 program for his senior year. This is our second year of CC. And I will be directing our campus next year.

    At the elementary ages CC is very compatible with CM methods at home. What you do at home can include anything that you want. The CC memory work only takes about 30 minutes a day, and is not burdensome. Most families simply listen to the CDs in the car. Many families do not add other activities for memory work, just listening to the CDs. You would continue to do math and language arts however you like at home. You would read whatever read-a-louds you want at home.

    The biggest philosophical difference is in how people view rote memorization. I come from a strong CM background, and even taught an entire summer 12 week workshop using SCM’s Living and Learning DVDs. I have changed my mind on the value of rote memorization.

    1) It isn’t drudgery. The kids don’t hate it. And even if they did, sometimes school is hard and you can’t make it fun. Period.

    2) Learning to memorize is a skill. If it is not learned during the young ages, it will be hard as one grows. My senior has a terrible time memorizing and studying. He read hundreds of living books, did as many oral and written narrations (which were completely beneficial and integral part of his education), but he has a hard time “studying” in the traditional sense and memorizing facts.

    3) I found that my children made many more connections with their “fact pegs” than they ever did with their “idea pegs”. But mostly, I believe they can benefit from making connections using BOTH. One doesn’t have to be sacrificed.

    4) Kids build upon the facts that they learn. Yes, they can learn the WHY behind everything first, but its not as efficient way to teach or learn. Especially in math. The WHY comes so much easier when the facts are easily drawn from the brain. COnsider multiplication tables and arithmetic facts. Algebraic thinking is impossible if the brain is busy trying to do arithmetic functions. However, when the arithmetic facts are known (memorized) and easily drawn, the brain is left with room and energy to think algebraically. I believe the same is true for most areas of study. Once the facts are learned, the connections and analysis are so easy to make. 🙂

    I love CM and my perfect curriculum would be a combination of Heart of Dakota and Classical Conversations. I just think rote memorization gets a bad rap, and in neglecting to teach this skill, we saw rotten fruit in our oldest’s education.


    I will add something about the upper levels (Challenge). This year we have one son in Challenge A (7th) and one in Challenge 4 (12th).

    We have found the outside accountability to be incredibly important. We homeschooled on our own for 13 years. My oldest needed the classroom skills, and the deadlines and accountability that having another instructor provider. I’m happy that he will have this experience before leaving our home.

    The cost for CC in the upper levels is very close to what we were paying for the complete HOD curriculum. Only it came with HELP. I will never homeschool in isolation again.

    CC is not right for for everyone. But the only way you will know if it’s right for you is to go to an open house and actually see what they do.

    Read The Core by Leigh Bortins. This book totally explains her ideas, when others within or outside of CC may confuse CC’s message. The Core details what our beautiful, whimsical, CM-inspired education was missing, which is discipline and consistency. I was so busy trying to make learning beautiful and fun that I neglected making it orderly and stretching.


    I have been using the Charlotte Mason approach since the beginning for my kids (6+ years.) I almost did the CC program last year, but we dropped out of the CC community right before it started. I did use the CC curriculum last year and it was ok. The songs are great for memorization. I am SO GLAD it didn’t work out to do the weekly classes. My friends who do it were and still are constantly in meetings at night for it. I was so grateful I didn’t have to go to any meetings during the year and got to spend that time instead with the entire family. We switched back to using simply Charlotte Mason curriculum this year and are enjoying and learning a lot more. CC is a good program though. It just depends on your goals and what is important for your family as a whole. Hope that helps!


    Read The Core by Leigh Bortins. This book totally explains her ideas, when others within or outside of CC may confuse CC’s message. The Core details what our beautiful, whimsical, CM-inspired education was missing, which is discipline and consistency. I was so busy trying to make learning beautiful and fun that I neglected making it orderly and stretching.

    I feel that I must address this common misconception concerning a CM education. If you are referring to your own personal application of CM inspired methods, than the following does not apply. However, I do want to make sure that there isn’t confusion for any readers who may have heard that a CM education is not disciplined or consistent.

    A true Charlotte Mason education is quite rigorous and disciplined as well as consistent. Charlotte had her students learning 2 or 3 foreign languages from a young age, as well as reading very difficult books and studying Plutarch and Shakespeare. They did plenty of memory work also but her focus was on memorizing beautiful passages that feed a child’s soul rather than dry facts, void of their context. Lessons were short but they schooled 6 days a week and pursued various educational activities in the afternoons. If we were to truly educate as Miss Mason did, our homeschool days would be very rigorous indeed!

    A CM education is beautiful, but it is not whimsical nor is it undisciplined or inconsistent. “Fun” was never her goal. Charlotte set a very high bar that few of us have managed to attain. People confuse her real methods with many modern interpretations of her methods. Read her books and look at what her schools actually did and you will be blown away!

    Classical Conversations may bring the accountability and community that many families need but it is certainly not more rigorous, disciplined and consistent than a CM education. In fact, I would argue the very opposite.


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