Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Classical Conversations and Memory Work in our Homeschool

Have you ever wondered how someone does Classical Conversations at home?  Well . . . it's not as difficult as you might think.   Classical Conversations provides parents with a toolbox containing all kinds of things that make it easier to provide a classical Christian education for your children at home.  People use Classical Conversations in different ways.  Some structure their entire homeschool around Classical Conversations.  On the other hand, some parents use Classical Conversations as their source of memory work -- as a supplement to other curricula they use at home.  I am one of those moms.  For our family, Classical Conversations is an "added extra" to the things we use at home.  Here's how I cover the memory work presented in Classical Conversations' Foundation Program:

Before I begin telling you about our weekly routine, let me explain that we cover the Bible memory work first thing in the morning when we do our Bible Study.  Therefore, it is not part of our Classical Conversations memory periods because we cover the Bible memory work when we do our Bible Study.
I try to allot about 30 minutes for our Classical Conversation memory work on Mondays. Here's the breakdown:

  •  History: (8 Minutes) Sing History song twice, and read the history highlight page aloud.
  • Science: (5 Minutes) Read the information from the Classical Acts and Facts Card. Write the science fact on the board and recite several times, erasing more words each time until it has been memorized.
  • Geography: (5 Minutes) Using laminated maps, trace all new countries, cities or features for the week. As we do this, discuss things that may make it easier to remember the locations.
  • Timeline: (5 Minutes) Display the 8 new timeline cards and recite them. Recite several times, taking away a card each time we say the 8 cards until there are no more displayed.
  • Latin: (2 Minutes) I write the week's Latin words on the whiteboard, then we sing/chant the material a few times until we're comfortable with it.
  • English Grammar: (5 Minutes): Chant or recite the new material. Discuss the material in context, by thinking of a few sentences that provide meaning for the material.
Here is a more detailed description of our memory period:

Monday:  Our classes are held on Fridays, so Monday is the day that we delve more deeply into the weekly Foundations material at home.  As I cover each subject of memory work, I explain the things my kids don't understand or give them background information about the topics that need more detail.  Classical Conversations has a few terrific resources to help me do this:  Classical Acts and Facts and History Highlights. 

The History highlights are available via free download for members of the C3 Community.  There is one page for each of the 24 history songs.  The page has the words of the history song on it and a nice summary of the historical event/person.  After singing the song a couple of times, I read the History Highlights page aloud. 

Classical Acts and Facts are not only available via download (entitled Science Snippets), but are also available for purchase in a card format, entitled "Classical Acts and Facts".  These lightly laminated 5 x 8 fact cards make a great addition to any science program.  They are arranged into four sets according to major science categories. The Classical Acts and Fact cards compliment the Foundations science memory work perfectly and would also be a nice addition for anyone seeking memory work for their science studies.  Each Monday, I pull out the card that corresponds to our science memory work and read the card.  The front has a nice picture for the kids to look at, and the back includes good, basic detail about the science fact/event. 

Following science and history, I pull out a a couple of large laminated maps.  We find all of the locations on our week's geography list and the kids use their dry erase markers to trace and label the locations.  As we find the locations, we discuss other locations that we've studied in relation to the new things we're learning

Next, we practice the history timeline. We memorize 8 Veritas Press history cards each week. On Monday, we only focus on the 8 new cards. Later in the week we practice reciting all cards that have been introduced thus far. As we do memory work, we stick to memorizing the the events that are listed on the front of each card. It is during our regular history studies that we elaborate! I often pull out the relevant Veritas Press card during our history reading time, so we can make deeper connections as we learn the story of our past.
For Latin, we usually sing the chant that goes with the material.  Oftentimes, I write the Latin words that we're to memorize on our white board and circle the endings of the words to make the memorization more meaningful. 

English Grammar usually evolves into a mini grammar class.  I try to pull the memory work into context.  For example, if we're memorizing the definition of a preposition, we chant through prepositions and then locate prepositions in sentences that we make up.

Finally, we learn our math material.  The first 15 weeks of Classical Conversations covers multiplication math facts.  The last 9 weeks covers basic math rules and formulas that we all need to know.  

Tuesday:  We spend about 15 minutes on memory work by quickly reviewing the current material and everything from the past 6 weeks. We usually just recite things, doing our best to do it from memory.

Wednesday:  We spend about 20 minutes on memory work on Wednesdays.  This is the day that we focus on 3 subjects.  I usually try to cover Geography in more detail by asking the boys to find the locations on their large maps.  They outline and label the locations.  After we've covered a few weeks, I drill them by asking them to point to the locations in a random order.  We often use the C3 community for review on this day.  The boys love this!

Thursday:  This is the day we try to do a review game.  Anything that has been introduced in CC is fair game!  Sometimes I choose to spend about 30 minutes for our game, so I pair our review time with our snack time. 

Friday:  Classical Conversations Classes! 

So there you have it!  That's how we cover CC at home.   There is no one "right way" to do memory work.  Remember:  Classical Conversations provides parents with a toolbox filled with things that help them to provide a classical Christian education at home.  CC provides us with a wonderful foundation of memory work for the grammar stage and it is giving a foundation for deeper learning.
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