Classical Conversations is an all-in-one curriculum for elementary school, if you choose for it to be. You can supplement as much or as little as you like. This week I am going to briefly cover what we are using this year, The Boy’s first grade school year. Periodically I will review curriculum we have chosen, and as I do that, I will come back and link to it here, so if you find this later, click on the links to see reviews!
This is the bulk of our school work each week. We meet on Thursdays for our community day, where The Boy is introduced to new grammar in seven subjects: timeline, history, Latin, math, science, geography, and English grammar. In addition, he completes a hands-on science experiment, a fine arts project, does a presentation to his whole class, and spend some time reviewing the previous six weeks’ worth of grammar.
During our school week at home, we review this information. Mostly for us, this looks like playing the CC accompaniment CD while he plays Legos or Matchbox cars. I have the information for each week hanging on bulletin boards in our dining/school room as well, so he has a visual reminder all week of what we are learning. However, unless he specifically asks about something, we are not going deeper into any areas this year. CC is cyclical, so we will have this current cycle, cycle two, one more time before middle school. We can focus on depth, then.
This year, I have been focused on reading and writing.
For reading, we completed The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading. I absolutely loved this book and have nothing but positive things to say about it. We started it in kindergarten, took a break for about eight weeks over the summer, and then finished it up in November.
For December The Boy got to unwrap a brand new book every day and read it. This was a promotion a friend of mine was doing through her Usborne Books business. She put together a package of 24 books (one for each day leading up to Christmas), wrapped them, and offered a steep discount. We transitioned from a reading lesson to reading actual books this way. Fantastic.
Now the goal is to read twenty minutes a day. Because of said friend and her book business, we are well stocked with really good books that cover a plethora of subjects. We have everything from CC topics to an animal detective series. Plus I have read aloud three Little House on the Prairie books and The Green Ember series.
To focus on writing we just do a series of copy work. Right now it’s thank you notes for Christmas gifts, and since the birthday is this week, we will follow those with birthday thank you notes. Scripture copy work, CC copy work, whatever he is interested in works. Also, The Boy LOVES to “take notes” during church, so although I don’t count Sundays as school days, he practices his writing every Sunday during church.
Because we finished our reading curriculum, but I want to build on the momentum, we are starting a spelling program this week. I’ve heard good things about All About Spelling, so we have level one to begin this week.
We are using Saxon Two for math this year. I am finding it a lot repetitive from Saxon One, and we are 56 lessons in. We didn’t finish Saxon One before it was time to call it quits for summer, so we had to finish Saxon One. We also don’t do a math lesson on CC community days or field trip days.
What we are currently doing is this: if there is a new concept, I teach it. If not, he just does the worksheets for the day. I frequently cross out some of the problems from one or both sides, especially if he has mastered the concept.
He also watches “Odd Squad” on PBS Kids, and that, believe it or not, has taught him a ton about math, and reinforces a great number of concepts.
Over the summer, The Boy said he wanted to learn Latin. CC had sparked his interest in it, so we purchased Song School Latin level one, and we are taking a very easy approach. We spend one week listening to all the songs from the previous lessons, plus the new songs. Then the second week we watch the DVD (purchased separately from the book and CD) and fill out the workbook. Again, the songs are most often listened to while playing with toys or while out running errands and in the car.
I love language and words, and if nothing else, I want our son to leave our home school well spoken and articulate. I spoke to the Institute for Excellence in Writing staff at our homeschool convention last spring, and asked what I could do for my six year old. CC uses IEW curriculum at the upper elementary and middle school level, but I didn’t want a formal writing plan yet. They suggested their new poetry memorization plan.
I. Love. It. And so does The Boy.
This is a five level plan where the child memorizes twenty poems (some are speeches, some are more like monologues from plays) at each level. You work on one until you have it perfectly down cold. You recite all of them every day. So, we are on poem #8 for level one. Every day our son says all 7 poems to us that he has memorized (yes, even on Saturdays and Sundays – when I remember!) and we work on #8 during “school” days.
When he has accomplished all 20, we will have a “recital” with family and friends where he will recite all twenty poems, receive a certificate, and a gift. I’ll make cupcakes 🙂
We started out the year studying Genesis, by his choice. I would read the same portion of Genesis every day from a different Bible: NIV, Jesus Storybook, Kevin DeYoung’s The Biggest Story, and The Gospel Story Bible. Then, on Fridays, he was supposed to retell the week’s story to Daddy at dinner. Unfortunately that sort of fell apart, and I’m floundering a bit with Bible (ironic, no?). I attend a Precept Upon Precept study, and we are starting Genesis in a few months, so he will be attending that with me, because he *wants* to study Genesis, and it’s something we can do together (not the whole study, obviously, but parts of it). In the meantime, we just talk a lot about biblical things. And he will attend the Galatians study with me starting this week.
I do have a Child Training and Virtue Training Bible, and I want to start having him work through that, but I can’t add more writing until he gets the thank you notes done. Seriously. It’s like pulling teeth. But once thank you notes are done, I plan to choose a virtue for each week and have him write those Scriptures.
In addition, The Boy takes piano lessons weekly and a once a month chemistry class. A fellow CC mom is his piano teacher, and another CC mom designed a chemistry class for kids grades K-3. It’s fantastic: her kitchen is a mess, and I paid her a small fee so I don’t have to do science experiments at home. Score!
That seems like a lot, when you look at it on paper, but our average school day takes about two hours, if we are both focused and on task. We take a lot of breaks. We snuggle a lot on the couch. We have a routine and not a schedule, which I will talk about another time. Some days we are done by noon; some days we don’t even start until after dinner. But I love that we get to direct his learning and coordinate around his needs!
Do you have a curriculum you love? Are you reading books you love? Let me know!