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Classical Conversations Reviews

Classical Conversations ReviewsClassical Conversations offers both community classes and curriculum resources for individual use. Foundations is the curriculum guide for K4 to 6th grade, Essentials for 3rd and up, and Challenge for 7th to 12th. The community classes meet throughout the US and Canada. From the website:

“Our three curriculum programs support your home-centered education by providing teaching tools for you, the parent, and quality educational materials for your student. Our guides, books, timeline cards, and multimedia resources have been thoughtfully crafted and selected. The math, science, literature, Latin, history, geography and fine arts studied in our Foundations Program represent a broad and interesting body of information. Our Essentials Program students work toward mastering English language skills and improving their writing technique. As students move into our Challenge Program and work toward becoming independent learners, they read, discuss, debate, analyze and write about award-winning literature—always within the framework of history and a biblical worldview.

“Our Foundations Communities serve children in the early stages, roughly ages 4 to 11. Foundations parents and students meet once a week for 24 weeks during the school year. Once late-elementary students enter the dialectic stage of learning, they join peers in our Essentials Communities, which usually meet in the afternoons after Foundations. In the middle and high school years, students hone their dialectic and rhetoric skills in our Challenge Communities.”

(19 Reviews)

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  1. Classical Conversations Review by a.i.
    Pros: curriculum
    Cons: some parents

    Grades Used: secondary

    I really loved being a tutor to teens. The curriculum was great and I had some very nice students. Some parents showed up an hour late every week and expected the class would begin whenever they arrived. If your student is a teen in a small class and they don’t show or don’t do their assignments regularly there is a big hole time wise. Other parents would not require the student to do their assignments. Isn’t doing things you don’t like part of growing up? These were also the same issues I had when teaching in regular school. I have a degree in math as part of my education. There was a mom who sat in my class which was fine, but the constant arguing over solutions was not. She would say rhe book was wrong and I didn’t know what I was doing. This created problems in the class that the director refused to address.

  2. Classical Conversations Review by Rosie
    Pros: Like the Curriculum
    Cons: Directors- some good, some not

    Grades Used: 6th-10th

    I like CC’s curriculum, its definitely college-prep at the high school level. However, there is a tremendous responsibility on the parent to provide all the testing and grading. Some Directors are extremely helpful in providing guidance/equipping. Others are not. I found this very frustrating as I needed to develop Latin tests, without the benefit of knowing Latin. It’s very hard for students to teach themselves a foreign language. Henle Latin does not have a pronunciation audio- so its pretty frustration figuring out how to pronounce most of the words. Latin moves at a very fast pace, so even though CC says you can jump in at Challenge 1 without having any Latin background, its extremely difficult to keep up.
    Most homeschool umbrella group leaders in our region do not like CC because there is little documentation that proves mastery of material. And, many moms (especially those who are new to high school) are caught off-guard because they didn’t realize they were suppose to test their students throughout the semester. This is ok for Science and Math, since tests are available by the publisher, but I found myself needing to read all of the curriculum books (Government, Philosophy, Latin, etc.) so I could intelligently make up the tests. You would think CC could help families out by providing moms a collection of suggested exams. This is overwhelming when you have more than one student in the Challenge level
    Your student needs to be incredibly self-directed because the Director does not teach. Unfortunately our Director provided very little direction and we found that the Challenge Guides were pretty vague in explaining some assignments and projects. It was very frustrating figuring out how to prepare for debates when the Director would pretty much just tell us to “read the book”. There was no coaching at all. However, the students were expected to debate in front of the entire CC Challenge Community- very stressful. We felt like we were in the dark most of the time. Its just like public/private school- the teachers (in CC’s case, the Director/Tutor) makes all the difference. So, my advice, interview your Director and go in with your eyes wide opened.

  3. Classical Conversations Review by Ann
    Pros: Community of friends, the singing of facts, general knowlegde gained
    Cons: Possible poor tutors, no refund if you get a bad tutor, not everything is set to music

    Grades Used: K,1,3,4,

    We belonged to a CC for one year which was fantastic, then we moved and joined a new group. Our new experience is a bit of a disappointment. I think it all depends on the CC group you join. One of my children’s tutors is brand new and appears to be rather uneducated. She spells incorrectly, pronounces incorrectly and gives wrong information. One of my other kid’s tutor’s is excellent and really knows her stuff. There shouldn’t be this kind of inconsistency when you are paying to attend.
    I just do not like how anyone can sign up to be a tutor. I was under the wrong assumption that all CC’s were like our first one and that all the tutor’s were qualified to teach. Because of this we probably won’t continue to do CC a third year.

    On the positive side, I was very impressed with the program our first year. This year my kids enjoy going for the most part and are learning some things. It is just enrichment for us so we don’t put as much time into it at home as others might. It is what you make of it. We have a whole separate classical/Charlotte Mason style curriculum we do at home and just listen to the CD’s and youtube videos at lunch or in the car.

    The bottom line is if you have a good director and tutors I imagine you will like it very much. If not, disappointment may be what you come away with.

  4. Classical Conversations Review by V
    Pros: Excellent curriculum that is easy to follow; organized; great sense of community
    Cons: Not a true co-op as only a few people lead/teach; too many rules from national office

    Grades Used: Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge

    I have been a member of a CC community for many years now. Yes, there are pros and cons. I am glad to find this website and see an open discussion. I have several children who have participated in all levels of CC- Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge and have also tutored.

    We love the classical model and how CC allows several students in one family to focus on the same materials. We do all of our science and social studies together – except for my kids who are in Challenge. I never knew how to do this until I came to CC, and I have saved a ton of time by putting these subjects together. The Essentials material is an outstanding language arts program. It ‘s best I’ve ever seen and has worked for all of my kids who have different learning styles. The best part of CC, though, is that it has fostered a wonderful community for our family. All of my kids, even the teenagers, love CC and I cannot imagine leaving.

    However, to me it is not really a cooperative. I say that because only a small portion of the moms do the teaching and everyone else does not contribute to the program. Tutors have to know a tremendous amount of material each week in all of the subjects. Because of the time spent in the class she teaches, tutors likewise cannot be a part of anything their own children do in their classes.
    It really would save everyone so much time by just having specific people do the art and science and rotating the kids instead of each tutor having to spend so much time learning the material each week. Just my opinion, but this program is set up to exhaust those who teach and hinder everyone else form using their gifts to bless the community.

    While the program is very organized, there are also a lot of rules from the national office that limit how much input local groups can have in making our own decisions. For example, our Challenge programs have lost several very talented directors over the years because some of the these ladies did not have all of their kids in CC. These have been outstanding teachers who have been sent away for that reason alone. (there is a rule that all Challenge teachers must have all of their kids in CC,no matter what the ages). Some oversight is helpful, but in many of these areas, in my opinion, it is too much.

  5. Classical Conversations Review by Janann Fine
    Pros: My children enjoy singing their multipication tables. They like the hands on for the geography. Early years really does not require a community.
    Cons: Expensive, community can become a click, too repetitive with material. They sell you on the upfront expense of the books that will be for the entire program, but keep updating and you are required to buy new books, just another way to make money, not educate.

    Grades Used: Prek-7

    I found that if you are serious about homeschooling your children, I am not sure that you need to belong to a community to teach and use the Foundations and/or Essential material. I find the tutors to not be any more qualified to teach than other homeschool parents. Too many times, the clicks start with the Directors and Tutors and it carries over to the students.

    I like some of the material, but find other material just filler with no real value.

  6. Classical Conversations Review by Dorothy
    Pros: Classical model
    Cons: did not like the inconsistency with tutors; not trained well

    Grades Used: Challenge A, B, I, II

    We went from public, to private, to online school to CC. The reason for CC was it taught students to seek God in all areas of their learning which is still occurs. Also teaches students to gain tools to help them learn not just the subjects they are learning but also about dealing with life’s challenges. If the tutor does not have facilitation skills and is not able to handle a variety of personalities and sometimes family value differences, the overall dynamics of a class can be difficult. The tutor makes the difference in how much your student will get out of the curriculum. I do not agree that CC should be a ‘one size fits’ all approach but there are tutors who believe that if one student is doing something different at home to learn, but they come prepared and sometime more prepared than others it won’t work. Each student has different ways of learning because God created all of us uniquely different so His kingdom will grow and change will occur that will glorify Him.
    Also tutors who have their children in their class need to treat their child no differently than the other students. Also any issues not addressed between child and parent prior to class about assignments should NOT be part of any classroom dialogue. That is unprofessional and takes away from the class time. Classical teaching allows students to learn according to their needs and CC does NOT support that which is why we are not continuing. It mainly due to how a tutor manages the class and is not open to suggestions which when your student moves up to Challenge 2 and 3 the students start to own the class discussions and teaching that occur. It is critical to allow this to occur and not be forced by the tutor. Tutors have the responsibility while in class to ensure that students discussions are occurring and that relationships among the students are not impacted. The rigor of class is good for teaching students what they will face in college but it does not allow for thorough learning. Example is the American Government in Challenge 1. It is not teaching students about our government with respect to the how, why and what we as Christians can do today to help change the way our government operates today. There is not enough Biblical teaching incorporated. History is taught using a timeline but time does not allow ones to study the constitution extensively as students today need to so they know their rights as a citizen. Understanding more deeply the why about something is not possible with the rigor of CC. My students kept up with it but it was not fun always which can take the joy of learning out of it. This time we as parents have with our students is critical that they get as much learning possible and have a love of learning because when they go into the world as young adults they will have so much more to learn than what we as their parents could have taught them.
    The other issue with CC is the tutors facilitation skills are not taught during training for those that are new or not that good at it. You can have the desire to teach but you must learn to manage a class which is not always easy. They need to carefully consider who is put in these roles because if they struggle in this area than class time will not be fruitful or celebratory after working hard to be prepared for class.
    Also have had a tutor look at her classroom as a business and not as young people coming to eagerly learn. We homeschool because public and private run their schools either by government requirements, certification standards or as a business to bring in money to support their sports, arts, etc…The prices for CC are reasonable if your student gets the full benefit from it but it is not if your student is not progressing because of a tutor’s inability to manage or create an environment of learning each week.
    Class size is also a challenge. The max is 12 which in Challenge 1 and above can be difficult to manage and get everything done. We had a tutor who was great with her class of 12 and she was flexible when the planned day did not go as planned because she knew God was in control. She clearly communicated what happened via email at the end of class day so the parent knew. It was great. With a smaller class of 3 or 4 going to Challenge 2, it does not always work if the dynamics between tutor and students is not conversational. Students relationships with each other definitely impact the level of discussion in class.
    CC is growing and can be good for some but it is trending toward a one size fits all approach due to its own growth challenges. It started out small and now has to evolve due to its growth and change in how students are educated in these modern times while keeping God and relationships with others the central focus.

  7. Classical Conversations Review by Melissa
    Pros: Fun way to learn the classical model of education while enjoying a community of fellow homeschoolers.
    Cons: Expensive, incomplete, disagree with some of the philosophies, tutors are not well trained, requires parent to basically write their own curriculum to use at home in order to line up

    Grades Used: Over the course of 3 years: 4K, K, 1st/3rd, 4th, 5th

    The first year we did CC, I was a tutor and we were part of a wonderful community. We all loved it and it was truly a blessing to our homeschool. However, had I not been a tutor, there is no way I could have afforded the tuition. As a tutor, I received “training” on how to teach according to the classical model. This training was not what I expected and I left the three day meeting feeling less confident than before. The first two days were spent explaining what we could and couldn’t do. For instance, we were absolutely not allowed to deviate from the 30 “crisp” minutes scheduled for each subject. This didn’t seem like a big deal, except that many weeks the assigned science project literally took 10 minutes to complete, while we were left rushing through art projects in order to fulfill the requirement. The last day of training, they finally gave instruction in what the tutors actually do. This was done by breaking us into groups and having us present parts of the memory work. It was very helpful to learn from some of the former tutors, but the majority of the tutors were in their first year, so we had no clue what we were supposed to do. Had it not been for my fellow tutors at my campus, I would not have understood my job requirements at all.

    Also in the training, we were constantly reminded that we are to teach the parents, not the students, and that our job is to show the parents how to teach according to the classical model. I found this condescending and in total opposition to my belief that the parent is the best teacher for their child-the reason why many choose to homeschool. When I asked why CC feels this way, I was told that “this is Leigh’s program and you cannot change anything about it”. The trainer drew a pyramid on the board and wrote: Jesus, Leigh, Directors, Tutors, Parents, Children. She told us that this is the order of command with CC and we were to respect it. I’m sorry, but something about seeing Leigh Bortins listed right under Jesus Christ made me nauseous. Also, I think the order should have listed the parents under Jesus and so forth.

    The second year we did CC, we had moved to a new area that did not have a campus, so I used the curriculum and did everything myself at home. We had a great year, learned SO MUCH more than the previous year, and I didn’t have to pay almost $500 per child. The drawbacks were that my kids loved getting together with friends each week, so they really missed having a campus and that I felt I had to organize our science and history to match up with CC. This was impossible because CC is more of an outline of main topics instead of a complete curriculum. One week on the Civil War did not give me enough time to cover what I felt my oldest child needed to learn that year.

    This year, we joined a classical co-op which is similar to CC, but the only cost is for supplies. The tutors are parent volunteers. I have found this to be the best of both worlds.

    I really think that CC is a great program, but I strongly disagree with some of their philosophies and I think the cost is impossible for many families to afford.

  8. Classical Conversations Review by Amy
    Pros: Classical Model
    Cons: Inconsistent tutoring

    Grades Used: 4&5

    Although the CC program is good when done well I’d caution readers to thoroughly research the tutors. My children attended a cottage school that used the CC program & tutoring was inconsistent. At the end of one year I opted not to return since I felt I could do just as well at home & avoid the costs of the school. This is a program that only works well when the tutors are committed & very organized. I wish it had worked for us.

  9. Classical Conversations Review by Catherine Segars
    Pros: Brilliant, comprehensive program for a classical education.
    Cons: none

    Grades Used: 2nd & pre-k

    This curriculum was made for my family! One year ago, I began the search for a homeschool curriculum. I was springing my daughter from the public school system and I was overwhelmed with the wide variety of homeschool methods and curriculums to choose from. I had no idea what path to take. CC was a light in the darkness. The concept was a little confusing at first, but their free summer practicum (offered in cities throughout the country every summer) presented not only the in’s and out’s of how the program works, but most importantly it explained the need for this type of education.

    Based on the classical learning method (the trivium), CC capitalizes on a child’s learning strengths and abilities during each cognitive stage. During the first stage, the Grammar stage known as Foundations in CC, students learn an incredible amount of information in the following subjects/areas: math, English, Latin, science, geography, history, and time line. The school year is divided into 24 weeks. Each week the student adds new information in each of these subjects, which is learned with the aid of very catchy songs and hand motions. I’ll be honest… when someone showed me what the kids were expected to learn in a single week, I was pretty scared. But I was very happy to see that it really wasn’t hard at all. I am simply amazed at what my kids are able to retain simply by singing these little tunes. I’m amazed at what I’ve learned too! My oldest child is just completing 2nd grade and she is set to Memory Master (100% accuracy on all memorized material) in her first year.

    The second stage of learning, the Dialectic stage know as Essentials in CC, begins in 4th grade. My oldest child hasn’t reached this stage yet, so I do not have 1st hand experience with the program yet. The goal of stage 2 is to dig deeper into the 1st stages (Foundations) memory work. Here they begin to dialogue and understand what this material means. They begin an intensive writing program and really break down the English language. Then in the 3rd stage, the rhetorical stage known as Challenge in CC, students develop a comprehensive worldview and learn to defend their beliefs through the aid of extensive reading/writing and even Socratic circles.

    This is a very challenging curriculum, but the rewards are incalculable. With the other curriculums I considered, the educational goal was shrouded in mystery. I really didn’t understand where the journey was going. I felt like I was looking at this educational mountain that was covered in clouds. I couldn’t see where the child was going to be at the end of it. With CC, I saw a very, very tall mountain that the child was expected to scale. But each step of the way was clearly mapped out. I knew exactly where we were going and how to get there. This curriculum is designed to cultivate brilliant minds. And I am so glad that I get to take this journey with my kids because I’m learning a lot too!

  10. Classical Conversations Review by Jacqueline Nelson
    Pros: Accountability, support, covers everything, cost worthy, social interaction
    Cons: Can't think of any

    Grades Used: K4-7th

    I have 4 kids in CC and we love it! I tell people that for us, CC has been like buying a costume made pair of jeans. It is a perfect fit. I have tutored the 4s/5s, Essentials, and directed for 2 years. Being around other like minded parents is very refreshing. Also, the kids are challenged and encouraged to grow and expand their knowledge, but it isn’t overwhelming. Parents still remain the primary teachers.

  11. Classical Conversations Review by Julia
    Pros: Well thought out program - great community - easy to use
    Cons: none

    Grades Used: PK - 7 and continuing through high school

    I rated the fun factor a three only because the first year of Challenge is a major adjustment. All my children love Foundations and Essentials. My new Challenge student likes it, but the workload has taken some adjustment. It has also helped him strengthen his work ethic, character, and learn to enjoy difficult tasks.

    I really love this program. I have learned that anyone can learn anything with hard work and patience. I plan on being in this program until my youngest graduates.

  12. Classical Conversations Review by Laney Garrett
    Pros: Classical Model
    Cons: Requires a strong work ethic in both the parent and student

    Grades Used: Foundations

    Classical Conversations is an impressive, well-designed program.
    Parents can find creative ideas for each week/subject on CC Connected. The website is organized and efficient.

    This program is quite advanced. Parents and students must persevere for success.

    Classical Conversations is the Marines of the homeschooling world.

  13. Classical Conversations Review by M. Camden
    Pros: Highly intelligent program
    Cons: None

    Grades Used: Abecedarian

    I have a five year old and a four year old in this program. We work while the baby naps and sing the learning songs while travelling in the van. The kids enjoy learning all the facts every week. You can tailor the basic structure to fit your child’s ability. I find many ideas on Pintrest, You Tube and CC Connected to fit the week’s lesson.

  14. Classical Conversations Review by G
    Pros: Classical curriculum well thought out
    Cons: NOT friendly for those with young children

    Grades Used: 4th grade

    I WISH someone had been more frank about this program before we enrolled. First of all we were spoiled, we had a classical co-op where the children were dropped off and taught by tutors one day a week. The parent did NOT have to be in attendance. Then we moved to a rural area with no other options but CC. I have two grade school children and two younger children (toddler and baby). To have to be present from 9 a.m. – 3p.m. with younger siblings is brutal. It’s distracting. It doesn’t accomplish the purpose I believe they are shooting for. But the program assumes the help of family, friends, etc. with no regard for those who do not have help.

    Curriculum wise…it’s good, but there is alot of singing (this is a different side of the brain than speaking!…facts memorized singing won’t necessarily translate to speaking). The curriculum is expensive and with “revisions” requiring you to buy the latest and greatest, it’s not very economical. They also don’t allow re-sale of their Essentials curriculum. I believe this is also a strike against them.

    Enrollment…all money is up front. I think that’s ridiculous as family dynamics can change greatly within the span of 10 months. Sememster to semster would be much more appropriate.

    Overall, great if you don’t need a day off from homeschooling, have LOTS of support at home, and only have older children. Not good for those with babies and toddlers.

    We were real disappointed.

  15. Classical Conversations Review by Jennifer S
    Pros: Community, Accountability, Equipping!
    Cons: None that I can think of.

    Grades Used: 4y/o through 11 y/o

    We are finishing our 3rd year with CC and we are SO thankful to have found such an amazing community of families! Even my youngest, who will be in the program

    My kids don’t even consider our meeting day a school day cause they have so much fun! The tutors are trained to engage the kids and introduce material in a fun and effective way. Getting to connect with other homeschooling moms from all walks of life is the highlight of my week!

    My 11 y/o loves the Essentials Program, where she learns intensive grammar, plays math games, and writes papers with the IEW Program.

    I have seen my own education be developed with my students as well – I am redeeming my inadequate public school education as I learn right along with my kids!

  16. Classical Conversations Review by Theresa Walker
    Pros: Pertinent information, very structured environment each week.
    Cons: wish they focused more specifics on English grammar

    Grades Used: 1 st & 2nd

    I love the community we are involved in at ths time. This is our second year with my son & he loves it. I am learning things I never learned in school. We love the variety of ways the Tutors teach the kids the information each week. Almost wish it was a tad longer so they could focus a little more on the individual subjects.

  17. Classical Conversations Review by Anne
    Pros: Provides structure and covers very pertinent, usable information.
    Cons: I can't really name any

    Grades Used: 1st

    Wow, this progam is amazing! It has really taken our homeschooling up MANY notches this year. Realize, being in my 2nd year, I am still fairly green, but my daughter LOVES it and says (all the time), “Mommy, I LOVE CC”. For those of you who are weak in history, it’s fabulous. I feel like I am going to school again and getting the education I was missing. Math and science have been my strong suits, so I really appreciate that someone “else” is helping me to pinpoint the essential historical facts. It really provides structure. You can do as much or as little “extra” that you want. I am using it as my main spine and adding math and a 4 prong language arts program.

    You won’t be disappointed. I am learning things I NEVER knew before. It will make our learning very measurable!!! It’s SO portable too, as you can purchase the audio memory CDs and take them in the car. We review our memory work when we walk our dog too, so we enjoy being outside “doing” school.

    I definitely am impressed with the caliber of education CC offers.

  18. Classical Conversations Review by Rebecca
    Pros: Kids learn a tremendous amount of facts, offers community
    Cons: Difficult for young children to remain attentive, can be overwhelming

    Grades Used: 4 yr olds, 5 yr olds

    Classical Conversations is really the ideal compromise between homeschooling and the classroom. Children get to experience a tutor teach them once a week Science, Math, English, History, Latin, Art, and Music facts, and then they work with their parent the rest of the week on those facts. Also included are things like oral presentations, so students learn to speak in front of others.

    CC is an incredible resource, not only for the information covered, but for the community of like-minded homeschoolers. It provides an opportunity for children to work with someone other than their parent, while continuing to maintain the homeschool foundation.

    As for the information itself, there is a tremendous amount that children learn. The idea is that young children learn the “grammar” or facts of different subjects, so that when they later gain the cognitive skills to be able to use those facts, they already know them. Many of the facts are put to song, so that they are easy to memorize. If you listen to the songs enough, you can’t NOT memorize the information! Children learn an incredible amount of facts each year; I have been particularly impressed with the Science and History facts. My 5 year old daughter can tell you about Vladimir I bringing Christianity to Russia, how Luther’s 95 Theses began the Protestant Reformation, and the parts of the sun. Children also learn their multiplication tables easily; they know them as “skip counting”. It’s truly impressive to hear young children easily recall complex historical or scientific facts without any problem at all.

    Young children can have some challenge with keeping attention to learn all of the information, but if parents play the CDs in the car or during times when kids are playing in the house, students will memorize the information almost effortlessly. Without a doubt, CC gives children an incredible base of “facts” upon which to build as they grow older. If there is a con, it’s the fact that there is a tremendous amount of information, and that the classical model of education does not focus on a lot of “creative” ways to get across the information. Parents of young children can make the memory work even more effective by coming up with creative ways to review it. All in all, CC has been a wonderful experience for my family and we plan to be a part of it for many years to come.

  19. Classical Conversations Review by Melinda Curtis
    Pros: I love the amount of information they cover
    Cons: I don't like the Latin

    Grades Used: 1st Grade

    I use this book along with going to a Classical Conversations Coop. I LOVE the large volume of information we learn at Classical Conversations. Although, the Latin seems a little pointless to me. It’s a great course in which you can delve as deep into each subject covered or just lightly skim the materials. I highly recommend this program to anyone home-schooling. It has been a huge blessing to my family. I never could have given my kids such a thorough education without this resource!

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