Classical 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."
Website: Classical Conversations
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Classical Conversations Review by FaySeptember 7, 2018Pros: Great community, thorough fact coverage
Cons: Very rigid; bad for early conceptual learners; expensive
Grades Used: 1
Classical Conversations assumes rote memorization needs to come before conceptual knowledge. After thorough research and a come-and-see, we decided this would not be a good fit for us. Don't get me wrong -- I myself was homeschooled and memorized the table of squares, pi to the 50th decimal, etc. I can still recite them. But our curious daughter wants to know the how and why, and although we believe in strong memorization, we believe it should fit within a basic conceptual framework. The load of memorization required in CC means that it will dominate, not supplement, your homeschool, and there is no way to be able to meet the weekly memorization demands while covering conceptual studies according to other scope and sequence lines. Additionally, from my own experience it is much better to take a few weeks memorizing something thoroughly, than to cram it all into one week and move onto something else, and then have to cycle back through it 3 years later. Fortunately, we don't have to choose; we plan to purchase the CC memorization cards and CDs and incorporate the memorization into our homeschool at a more grade-appropriate subject level.
Classical Conversations Review by Michele D ChenaultJuly 25, 2018Pros: Fantastic college prep
Cons: Pricey but worth every bit considering it's your child's education
Grades Used: 3rd - 12th
I will start off with a bit of bragging on CC and of course my two oldest kids.;)
I have graduated two students out of CC and still have two in the upper Challenge levels. My oldest son has gone on to finish college and graduate
with honors with a degree in computer science, a STEM degree. He and my other son were more than adequately prepared for college and we did not accelerate them in any subject at all. We did the CC program verbatim because that's the kind of person I am. Although some could consider my oldest was a little behind because he started challenge 1 in his 10th grade year. So he did Physical Science 10th grade, Biology 11th grade, and Chemistry 12th grade. He didn't have any physics until college or higher level math than Precalculus. It's really not necessary to have all that the school system asks for because colleges are going to retrain their students the way they want.
Many have said that CC is pricey and some teachers are not qualified or even worse ignorant. Yes, it is expensive and yes some teachers are not qualified. I will say that most are not qualified, but this curriculum has the greatest flexibility in that YOU the parent are the one who is in charge. If the lead learner doesn't have all the facts, then you can shine and give your child more facts or better yet help your student learn how to find that information about a subject. The point of the curriculum is to train the brain how to learn new subjects and how to think logically and clearly.
Many have said that CC can be cliquish and I wouldn't disagree. It can be that way and/or seem that way. Sometimes it is a real and viable problem. CC is made up of individuals and we are all fallen sinful people in different places with our walk with God. CC corporate does have measures in place to try to prevent that from happening. It's still going to happen. My suggestion is to talk to your Area or Regional managers, but remember they aren't perfect either and also we need to thank God for the reminder that we are always under His Grace for forgiveness. Then I would recommend looking to your heart to see if anything there needs to be changed.
I'm getting ready to put my 3rd son into Challenge 4 and I am a little uncertain as to the tutor's personality. She is very qualified, but tends to take rabbit trails very often. My son who is 17 tends to get frustrated by people like that. We are putting him in that class because the curriculum is SO good and with the idea that he will meet professors in college and bosses for his future job that will be like that. He will need to learn self-control with people.
Bottom line is, Classical Conversations will prepare your child for excellence in college including STEM degrees without doing anything extra.
Classical Conversations Review by RachelFebruary 23, 2018Pros: Opportunity for good friendships, high parent involvement
Cons: All the negatives associated with multi-media marketing
Grades Used: K-10
We were involved with Classical Conversations for many years and I served in various leadership roles. On the plus side, we developed some very good friendships and were close to a number of families involved in the program. As a parent, I stayed with my kids in their classes and enjoyed being a part without feeling unwanted by the tutor. CC welcomes parent observation more than any other homeschool program I have been a part of.
However, this is a multi- marketing business. I can honestly say that after being a part for so many years. The focus is first to generate money and second to serve homeschool families. I will go through the contract to illustrate this point.
When signing up for CC, parents agree to pay the entire tuition by July for the entire year. It does not matter if a child gets sick or even if a family moves away. CC makes no provisions. I saw this happen to a family with three children. The dad got transferred during the first semester and that family lost $2,000.
The contract strongly encourages parents to purchase products from CC. There is no website or effort on the part of CC to help parents keep down costs by buying used curriculum. Practicums have a CC book table. This would be a wonderful opportunity for parents to sell used curriculum, but CC corporate will not allow it because they want you to buy from them brand new. CC is likewise constantly updating with new editions, making families purchase even more books from them.
The contract claims that CC class prices are similar to other co ops. This is not true. What the contract does not say is that CC Essentials and Foundations have 24 weeks of instruction per year and Challenge has 30. Public and private schools have 36 weeks per year. We did the math, and the price of CC is more per each hour of instruction than the local schools in our area except for one. Only the schools have certified teachers and there is no requirement at CC.
Beyond the contract, there are numerous rules CC Corporate has instilled that serve them to make money. The whole point of homeschool is to empower each family to make their own decisions. However, CC families, particularly those in the Challenge programs, cannot do this. Rules like a director must have ALL of her kids in the program, even highs schoolers, to continue her job. So many talented directors lost their jobs over this. If a high schooler whose parents directs at CC wants to take dual enrollment at a Community College, for example, they cannot do this unless their mom quits her job, even if she has kids in the other parts of the program like Essentials and Foundations. Why does CC have this rule? Becuase it forces directors to keep their kids in the program, which equals more money for corporate.
I would encourage you to do some research on the Bortins family before signing up. Before starting, CC Leigh entered an entrepreneur contest. She had to abandon her plan, which was selling homeschool curriculum, because she was charging families $1,000 per year and her clients found that price too high. A few years ago she bought a huge multi-level sports complex in North Carolina. Like others at the top of multi-marketing companies, she is wealthy. Please be aware that a portion of your tuition goes directly to the Bortin family. Her son, who took over at age 26, currently leads CC. He had no children of his own at the time and his wife also took a high leadership position.
I would also investigate the whole controversy of how directors are classified and receive compensation. Space does not allow me to go into the details, but there are quite a few websites on this topic.
Classical Conversations Review by Tonya RobertsJanuary 8, 2018Pros: Classical Model, Awesome Community, Amazing curriculum
Cons: Wish I would have started my oldest sooner
Grades Used: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 plan on going to 12th
I love the fact you can visit a CC community day anytime or at an open house and see how it is run. That is how I first decided to enroll. I liked the fact that the parents leading the classes are tutors and I am the teacher. I like the fact they get at CC what I can not replicate at home...peer accountability and community, It was nice to experience an educational model based on truth, beauty and goodness. Interactions with one another ought to follow the principles in Matthew 18. I really like having the curriculum laid out for me and the options to add or reduce as I feel appropriate. In the Foundations stages we were able to concentrate on the Grammar stage of memorization for community day and at home go deeper into each subject if we wanted. These memory pegs are there and daily life adds more to their understanding of each piece of memorization. Learning about the Classical Model helped me to really understand the process of learning. I early retired from the public school system so I wasn't really familiar. Now my older children are in 7th, 9th and 10th grades...I am amazed at how well my children can articulate, debate, use logic, decifer and see God in everything that they learn. CC is much more than a basic education; it addresses the heart and mind. Had I not researched the program and became informed i would have been confused with the processes and procedures. No program is perfect...we found one that fits us. No family is perfect, church or organization. We have learned how to be a part of something wonderfully imperfect and let God teach us some beautiful lessons together. I encourage you to become informed, read Echo In Celebration (Free), The Core and for the middle school years The Question & The Conversation...it makes so much more sense when you understand the Classical Model. God Bless you on your journey to finding the best education choice for your family.
Classical Conversations Review by LoriNovember 29, 2017Pros: Timeline Song, Flashcards, Curriculum
Cons: No Assurance of Group Quality, Some Hostile Staff
Grades Used: K,5
We just had an unfortunate experience with CC.
We have been using the CC curriculum for 3 years now. The first year we were in a different state. Great group, great director, I also talked to the regional director: very friendly & helpful. We moved to a different state & joined a group that was new.
After three sessions, the class day was changed for the convenience of the people running the group, which meant my family would have to miss a few classes for dental appointments I'd made with the understanding the class was on a certain day. Not such a big deal, but not ideal.
Then one week on a Sunday night the director sent out an email canceling class on Thursday for fall vacation. A mother who was not the director, whose husband was a tutor, then sent out an email on Tuesday unilaterally reinstating class on Thursday.
I saw the email from the director canceling class, but I didn't see the email reinstating class, which just looked like a reply to the group. And nobody bothered to call or text us that class was actually still on, so we simply missed class that week.
Another issue was that my kindergartner's tutor was not not strictly adhering to the curriculum. She was bringing in books she liked and reading them to the class. That is nice, but I paid for the curriculum.
Finally, the group was imposing all these other obligations on me. We have four children, and I help my elderly mother, so I'm stretched. I was getting texts telling me to bring gifts for the tutors and to bring potluck meals.
I don't understand why no one could bother to contact me that they had reinstated class after they canceled it, but they could contact me to tell me to bring gifts for the tutors.
We withdrew from the class, and I sent an email to a director. She called me, was very emotionally empathetic, but no suggestion of actually speaking with the people running the group.
I paid almost a thousand dollars to enroll my children in this group this year. I was floored that it was being run so lackadaisically, with zero mechanism for correcting a "rogue group."
I sent another email to the director and the regional director, noting the points I've just made above. Number one, because it isn't my style to withdraw from a commitment without explaining why. Number two, I thought feedback would be valuable since it was a new group.
The regional director called me, and basically ambushed me over the phone. I received one of the nastiest most harassing calls I've ever received in my life (while watching my children at the playground).
She accused me of "rejecting community" and kept saying she was "very concerned about me" because I was "rejecting community." I answered something like "That's crazy," and she turned to someone present with her and asked "Did you get that?" in reference to my statement. I was like "Am I on speaker? What is going on here?"
I got off the phone by firmly asking her not to call me again.
I sent a communication to corporate, basically telling them I did not want this madwoman harassing me anymore (since she was doing so as their representative).
They sent me an email apologizing and asking for forgiveness. Sure, I forgive them, but man, would I not join another CC group!
Classical Conversations Review by EmmaNovember 1, 2017Pros: Rigorous, intense, cultivates skills on how to learn
Cons: The early memory work
Grades Used: 1--12
Classical Conversations, in my opinion, is an excellent homeschooling curriculum, especially if you wish to continue a good program long-term. Being a Challenge 1 student myself, I can personally see the benefits of the material that has been incorporated in my life. However, it's not meant for everyone--I've seen some of the reviews that degrade the program for its "cliques and poor directors." But that can happen anywhere--public school, privates schools, regardless of its leadership or members.
All in all, it has worked for me. But it doesn't work for everyone.
Classical Conversations Review by NLKSeptember 12, 2017Pros: met some new people
Cons: clickish groups, poor directors with very little oversight
Grades Used: k, 1, 3, 4,5
There is not a well thought out procedure to weed out bad directors or tutors or to resolve conflicts.
The program is based on the multilevel marketing model, Once the campus grows they split into other campuses so people can make more money. Seminars of less than a week are considered adequate to train tutors. If you decide you can teach your children to memorize the facts in the Foundations book at home, instead paying another mother to present the same material, a director might tell you it is illegal to use your purchased books at home, and that if you use the books on your own you might not do it correctly.
Classical Conversations Review by CaryleeAugust 18, 2017Pros: Challenge classes teach reasoning and logical thinking. Program provides accountability
Grades Used: Foundations, Essentials, Challenge A, and B
We have seven children and have home schooled for 20 years. We traveled across the country for 10 of those years selling home school art curriculum at conferences. Throughout those years we have seen and tried almost every home school curriculum option out there. We helped start a CC group in our area 8 years ago, attended/tutored for 2 years, took 4 years off, and then started back in CC 2 years ago. For those who have had a bad experience, I am sorry, but please do not equate a bad community experience with a bad curriculum over all. Our community is amazing. No, it is not the answer for everyone. For us it has been the accountability and structure our family needs.
If you think the curriculum is too simple or not enough...then you have not looked at the big picture, however. Everything in the foundation and essential programs builds to the Challenge programs. Now that I have two teens in Challenge I can see it, where before there were times I wasn't sure. Last year I saw my 13 year old son, who previous hated school, learn to look at both sides of an issue and write multiple persuasive essays on them. I saw huge growth in his academics and social skills. CC is not perfect, because we are not perfect. For us, it is worth every dollar.
Classical Conversations Review by AmyAugust 12, 2017Pros: Fellowship and group activities
Cons: too much game playing by the moms
Grades Used: 4th and 5th
The first year was great. We had a great teacher and had a lot of fun. There was one kid who was always trying to rattle my kids cage because he wanted to be best friends with the directors boy who got along great with my boy. His mother was a psychopath. The second year rolled around and the same thing happened. A few of the mothers wanted a tailored group and ganged up on us and got us kicked out. After that they ended up leaving CC. The clicks and back stabbing, the lies told about the director, me and my son were disgusting. These were so called Christian mothers. All I can do is shake my head.
Classical Conversations Review by BrittJuly 2, 2017Pros: Excels in the high school years
Grades Used: k-7
Addressing the points -
Directors are untrained and incompetent- the idea behind CC is to equip parents to present the same material at home in the same way. It would FAIL if it intimidated parents and they walked away thinking they were not as capable as the tutor. The PARENT is the teacher. The tutor is just a parent that presents the same material that is in the guidebook. The tutor is NOT THE TEACHER.
This is not a co-op. You must be familiar with the classical model of education or you won't understand how it's set up. The elementary grades are the Grammar Stage and this is the time when kids want to absorb information like little sponges. Memorizing facts is just one small part of it. Those facts are like pegs that they can hang information on as they get older and start to see the whole picture. My 4 yo can fill in the rest of the sentance when someone mentions Constantine in a public setting. She has a peg now and can build on that later. High school is not the time to fill heads with knowledge. This is very different from public school. Please don't approach CC with our public school format as your benchmark.
The flower of CC is the Challenge years. That's for the 12-18 year olds. The Grammar stage is the stem that supports that. If you haven't checked out a campus yet, please stop in and observe the older teens. They impress. They have poise and confidence.
If you have little one's that are under 4 and too young, it's is up to the parents to set up a nursery or babysitter during that time. We do it in the church. The moms take a rotation so each one only watches kids twice a year. A teen is hired for a nominal fee to help in the room. It's not the directors job to do this.
Cost- We looked into an online highschool class. The cost of one year of biology was $900. The same curriculum was covered in CC, but several other subjects were presented as well for just a little more. It's really quite the deal when you look at it from a financial aspect.
Classical Conversations Review by ZJune 21, 2017Pros: Small class size, opportunity to know other families well
Cons: Must take all 6 classes with no room to choose electives, unqualified directors,
Grades Used: 3-9
This is a review specifically of the Challenge programs. I speak as a parent who was involved for three years with several children.
I have seen Challenge, under the right circumstances, be a fantastic fit for some. However, I have also see it be disastrous for others. In my experience it depends on the qualifications of the director and how well the kids in the class work together.
The small class size can be an advantage if the kids get along well. There is less room for cliques in this very small setting. But they are with each other 6 hours with the same teacher in the same room. I would find out as much as your can about the other families before signing up.
I would likewise get as much info as you can about the background and qualifications of the director. It is very unlikely you will find a person who is familiar with that many subjects. In at least one subject (most likely more) your child will be learning on his own.
You will also be grading your child, so I would make sure you have extra time to invest in learning some of the subject material with him. (In Challenge B, it is recommended that parents put aside time to specifically learn Logic. You will probably need a lot of time in understanding this, as very few adults have a background in Logic.)
Also, keep in mind that there are no placement tests to enroll. It is very possible that there will be kids who are behind, especially if they did not take the Essentials course (Challenge 4-6 program) and are brand new to the program. This was very common in Latin. In Challenge 1, the class had kids who were entering their 3rd year of Latin and likewise those who were new to Challenge with no prior knowledge of Latin or English grammar.
In my area, many kids start with Challenge A, but fewer and fewer continue with the program as the years go on. By Challenge 4, there are hardly any programs at all. If this is the case where you live as well, I would carefully consider even more if you should enroll. You must pay for the entire year at the beginning before you know if the program will be a good fit. And you will not get any of the money back if you later discover that it is not.
That being said, Challenge is the right program for many kids under the right circumstances. It served our family well when we first began. It was especially nice during prom season to have all of the kids go to a play and dinner together. No no one was left out. We also knew the families very well and came to trust them with our kids. Some (but not all) of the directors were outstanding. Maybe it is the right path for your family. But I would consider the concerns I have listed here in making your decision.
Classical Conversations Review by Charlie VigilanteJune 7, 2017Pros: None whatsoever. Not even a community.
Cons: The arrogantly ignorant leading the blind
Grades Used: Elementary
I am a trained teacher with a Bachelor of Education, homeschooling my children. After a year in a Classical Conversations community, I’m absolutely shocked by the attitude of the CC crowd! What I find very crazy about CC is that that style of “teaching” children is arrogantly ignorant of different learning styles & the multiple intelligences. Memorizing lists of words in Foundations does not meet the learning needs of the different learning styles and multiple intelligences. Not to mention that it’s all JUST surface “knowledge” – CC discourages the child’s questions about these random list of words. The goal is to simply memorize lists of words. I was told to shut the children down if they asked too many questions… YIKES! And yet there is TONS of research that the best way to learn is by asking questions and having those questions learned. Do yourself a favor – don’t bother with it. It’s truly the arrogantly ignorant leading the blind!
Classical Conversations Review by JaclynMay 16, 2017Pros: Essentials, IEW, memory work, community
Cons: it is a long day when you take Foundations and Essentials
Grades Used: K-5th
We just finished our second year of CC and we have loved it! It has been great fit for my 10 year old son. He is very independent and loves the memory work. My 7 year old son loves it as well, but mostly for his friends.
I love the fact that both my boys have the same memory work but I can choose how much we elaborate on certain things. I tend to elaborate more with my 10 year old since he is more interested and ready. I know my 7 year old will be going through all the cycles again so we just work at his pace. I will say, that CC is what you make it. I see a lot of reviews saying they don't think it is a quality education. I totally disagree. My kids and I have learned so much through CC but i think it's because we spend a lot of time reading about the memory work at home. For example- we read Story Of the World to correlate with the history sentences. We loved it and got so much out of it! I also added a science curriculum this year to expand on the science memory work.
I am totally blown away by Essentials and how much my 10 year old has learned. He knows more grammar than me or my husband and can diagram a sentence like nobody's business! We had an amazing tutor though. We love IEW as well. It has helped my son learn how to write a paper on his own and have confidence in his writing (writing is not his strong suit).
Our community is fabulous as well. We have made so many wonderful friendships and I so enjoy meeting like minded mamas. So all in all, our experience with CC has been wonderful! i would recommend it to anyone!
Classical Conversations Review by JKMay 13, 2017Pros: Memory skills, kids have a good time learning
Cons: Some inept tutors, Parents competing, gossip, control issues, bullying, expensive
Grades Used: K,1,2,4
I was with four different CC groups because we move a lot with my husband’s position. My daughter loved being with other kids. She did well and was able to do Memory Master. I tried to stay out of all the gossip, control issues and competition I saw in each group. In one group, some moms were even crying over their child not achieving Memory Master( the kids were fine! No tears. ) and the proofers were talking behind one of the mom’s back. I said they should speak directly to her. They simply ignored me.. It was pretty sad. At one group, my child was bullied by the director’s daughter. She was a new director and told me her previous director said her daughter cheated on the final proof of memory master. She then proceeded to tell me that she does not believe her child does anything wrong!! That was scary to hear. When we tried to talk about what was going on, it was beyond ridiculous . It got so bad, we left the group. The girl was constantly bullying my daughter. The other kids saw it and tried to help her. My daughter was so hurt, we finely left the groups. The regional director tried to help, but she spoke of forgiveness and made them say they forgave each other. The other girl sneered at me and my daughter after when no one was looking. We finally left peacefully, lost a lot of money, and yet the next time this director saw us, she glared at my daughter, would not look at us and her daughter did the same. I cannot even explain how insane it felt to see this behavior exhibited. To know God and make Him known is not something I have seen with CC. Some of the ciricullum is good but it is not the only one. Once a lady was sharing with me different sources she uses. I told her I like to get the teacher’s Manuel’s as a reference. One of the tutors piped in and told me if I needed them, I should not be homeschooling. I now have my child in school. Her average is 100. Or close to in most every subject. I think I did okay, And, she has some really sweet friends. Well, for all it is worth, that was our experience.
Classical Conversations Review by AndrewMay 7, 2017Pros: Fun and great for getting interaction between students and between tutors and students.
Cons: Expensive and rigid.
Grades Used: 2-7
Our boys had a great time in Foundations and Essentials. They will be in the Essentials class next year. The have made lots of home schools friends through this group (and another group which we also belong to). However we consider that CC is an expensive program.
The challenge program for middle school and high school is particularly expensive and very rigid, with no room for students who may be ahead of the curve in some subjects, or for special needs. Spending the same amount on other curricula more suited for the individual student, will probably get much better results.
Classical Conversations Review by CarolynnApril 15, 2017Pros: Good for very early education
Cons: Expensive no refund prepay, Cliquey, Lots of additional curriculum needed
Grades Used: 3-5
Our daughter is now 12 and we completed three years in classical conversations, changing co-ops one time. Being that she is an only child I had hoped to become a part of instead it was very cliquish. Besides the $960 tuition, registration fee and etc., we also purchased additional spelling, math, science, foreign language and history curriculum. We also had our daughter in additional music and violin classes. I was stunned at the constant emails and requests for donations to help this person and that when everyone was fully aware of these people being much more financially secure than many of us. There was even an email that went out to all of us requesting that we "pitch in" to buy about $700 worth of "Young Living" oil's and diffusers for a family. I lost it, that is not a need, it is a want!!
When I had 3 surgeries, in concession, I was told that they would have some stuff for us for my husband to pick up. It was a laundry basket full of junk food and fresh fruit and vegetables, some of which had already begun to (odor) deteriorate. I finally broke down and spoke with a number of other mothers and the director in our co-op about feeling as though we were outsiders and of course in good pretentious fashion, they gushed expressing sympathy and began inviting us to things. When we attempted to take them up on those offers the excuses felt like psychological battery!!!
I have learned a great deal about homeschool and curriculum since then and I'm no longer a part of CC.
Classical Conversations Review by Charlie VigilantMarch 4, 2017Pros: My kids have made friends
Cons: Snobby, clichy, uneducated & a perfect curriculum for underachieving
Grades Used: 1-5
I was looking for a Homeschooling community and thought I'd join Classical Conversations. I ordered my books for both Fundations and Essentials at the beginning of August and unlike a most million dollar reputable companies (who use a reputable delivery company), they sent these items snail mail. The end result was that the books arrived well after classes already began, I didn't get the chance to see what the books had to offer & I lost out in a lot of money in class fees (because you can't drop out once classes begin).
The Fundamentsls book is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen! It's no more than a table of contents! It's like handing a child the table of contents if a well written story, asking them to memorize just the table of contents and then puffing out your chest and telling everyone that your child read the book! People who love to learn are not satisfied with just memorizing a list of words! I've never encountered anything more ridiculous! This is clearly just a business and a very deceiving one for people who have no clue! It's little wonder why our governments feel they need to regulate us homeschoolers more! This is below what public school has to offer! Sorry if that offends people but it's a fact!
The Essentials guide was also ridiculous! The only thing that was of value was the IEW, which Classical Conversations can take NO CREDIT FOR! Sadly, Essentials doesn't cover the THIRTY lessons in IEW! Instead they do SEVENTEEN of this Lessons. Let's do some Math - that's only 57% of the wriring course! Thats barely a passing grade if this were a test!? Then they say they completed the book...? This is also ridiculous!
I encountered some beautiful people in the group (new comers who haven't been caught in the cult) but the people who have been in the program for several years are very clichy, ignorant (the unlearned kind) and closed minded. They really think this is the "be all end all" and God forbid if someone has a different opinion. I also found them to be very threatened by the fact that my grade three child was able to do the work in IEW when it clearly states that it's for grades 3-5 & they have students as old as grade 8&9 doing this course (which I did NOT point out)! This obviously threatened their little bubble! They also have get-togethers after CC but don't include everyone. At one point a party was announced during CC, the host didn't invite everyone (she excluded people) and there was no accountability for her snobbery! The director of the group (although she's a nice person) lacks leadership skills, regularly misses people in her emails and doesn't take responsibility for anything. I'm happy my children have made friends but it's hardly a community with these snotty women!
This is a perfect group for people who want to get by with the bare minimum. Somehow this low achedemic standard slips by facilitator/school boards supervising. I however now understand WHY governments are starting to monitor homeschoolers more!
Classical Conversations Review by JamesFebruary 20, 2017Pros: community
Cons: boxed curr
Grades Used: 6th grade going to 7th
My daughter is currently attending Essentials and we are trying to make the major decision of Challenge A or not. To the former director Ibell please give me guidance on what to do. I like the community feel of Challenge A but I don't want her to live in a box during her educational years. I have taught her mostly without any boxed curriculums and she is very bright naturally. However, I want her to love learning and not kill the passion of learning. You gave a true honest review that I appreciate so much.
I have struggled with trying to see how Essentials Grammar is really helpful. None the less, she has really enjoyed the class participation. She is very creative and also very analytical as well. I don't know how to balance that when most groups are one or the other. I do hate that there is not enough creative writing during this time and would she even have time to do so?
Thank you so much for all of your reviews. God bless.
Classical Conversations Review by TonyaFebruary 17, 2017Pros: Quality Literature, Great Support, Loving Community, Subject Integration
Cons: Wish I would have found CC sooner.
Grades Used: 5th through 9th so far
CC came along right when I needed support and direction in our homeschooling path. CC is not for everyone, just as most things in life. It is a great fit for us. I love that I am my students primary teacher. The one community day gives us the accountability that we need to have our work completed. The resources to assist our teaching and the personal experience offered is priceless. Our children have met lifelong friends. Most important our children are amazing individuals in their character and integrity. These are qualities that have been drawn out and supported through the CC curriculum.
Classical Conversations Review by B.February 9, 2017Pros: We have met some great people. Super honest, and seemingly loving people
Cons: Feeling lost for the first few months. You are not sure if you made the right decision.
Grades Used: ??????
I pulled my daughter out of traditional school, and gave u her IEP scholarship to do CC. It seemed like a great idea. She loves to sing, and is very social. The class was setting was small.
I can say, I felt a little lost. I think, I came in around September. It was really hard to catch on. I go to school, and work, and added homeschool to my plate. I was so confused. For weeks, I was not sure if I was letting her down. I still don't know where to find the calendar on big tent. I am surprised when we have a week off. There should be a sit down to welcome you in. Who wants to feel lost???
I like to have a definite structure, and then expand from there, The book is great structure. However, locations could be a little better on helping new people blend into this life. It's like everyone is this big family, and we are slowly fitting in. However, I am not cut from the same mold at all. I am not a stay at home mom at all. I have one child, and I am making business moves.
Is there something better for me??? I'm not sure!
Classical Conversations Review by lbellJanuary 18, 2017Pros: Community
Cons: Loss of Control; lower educational expectations
Grades Used: 3rd-8th
I was actually a tutor and director of CC for several years. My daughter started CC in 3rd grade. She did Essentials and went all the way through Challenge B in which I was the director. There are things I really like about CC and things I’m choosing to do differently. Since starting CC, however, I feel there are better options. Here’s a synopsis.
1. Essentials - My daughter told me not to do Essentials with my son because she never mastered english grammar. Most Essentials tutors use the analogy that Essentials is like throwing spaghetti against the wall. Not all of it will stick, but some will. The problem we ran into is that not enough stuck. I wish I would have done Easy Grammar or Analytical Grammar with her while she was in Challenge A & B, but I “trusted the system.” I know they consider Latin grammar, but it didn’t help in retaining everything necessary for high school writing.
With my son, I chose to do Easy Grammar in 3rd grade to introduce each part of speech. This year for 4th grade we used Winston Grammar and he learned to parse sentences one part of speech at a time. I can’t tell you how much I love Winston Grammar and how much easier it is than Essentials. Next year, I will use Analytical Grammar Jr. or Well-ordered Language 2 by Classical Academic Press if it’s published in time. Next year, my goal is to add diagrammimg.
I do like IEW but I prefer Writing & Rhetoric by Classical Academic Press because it allows for creativity. My son is doing Writing & Rhetoric 1 online through Classical Academic Press.
My sister in law is doing IEW online through IEW.
Another friend is doing a 5th grade writing/grammar class with Wilson Hill Academy and loves it. They use Shirley Grammar.
2. Challenge A - This was a great year for my daughter to learn to study and self-govern. Fortunately, she had a tutor that actually taught them in class which is a no - no, but it made it worth taking the class. I plan to have my son do classes through Classical Academic Press and Wilson Hill instead.
3. Challenge B - I did Challenge B because of Logic & Mock Trial. Current Events ended up being a highlight too. One thing that drives me crazy about CC is the pace of the work the kids are suppose to do. They don’t expect kids to master it the first time. I believe less needs to be done at a higher level. You need to learn to study for mastery. I will probably have my son do writing & Logic with Classical Academic Press and his other classes with Wilson Hill.
4. Challenge 1-4 - Science and math are a year behind especially if your child wants to pursue a career that requires them. I have learned, if possible, students should do Algebra in 8th, Geometry in 9th, Algebra 2 in 10th, etc. so they have covered what is necessary by the time they take the SAT & ACT.
Physical science, used in Challenge 1, is an 8th grade curriculum. It’s ok if your child is not STEM bound.
There is no true history curriculum. They read historical books and documents but there is no context. Tutors are not suppose to add to the curriculum so it’s up to the parent to fill in the historical gaps which few have time or the knowledge to do. I also think you need to start with ancient history, move to medieval history, etc. to understand our constitution with is studied first in Challenge 1.
I know many like CC, but I guess it basically comes down to - I want more. I also want the freedom to change curriculum I don’t like and choose inspiring teachers/classes for my children.
Classical Conversations Review by April PalmerMay 19, 2016Pros: social connections on community days
Cons: a creepy need for control and unwavering devotion to the company, exploitation of Scripture to further corporate goals
Grades Used: K-4 - 5th grade
Though I'm mostly going to talk about the structure of the CC communities and not the content, this is still a review of the product since CC insists that their product IS the community, not just the curriculum.
I was a part of a CC community for four years, and it was great!... Until the managers stepped in and told our director she was doing a lot of things wrong. This company claims that directors own their own business, but managers consistently step in and "guide" the direction of the campus. The managers even have a system for correcting a wayward campus. It's called a SMART plan. Our director was placed on a SMART plan, and it included punitive requirements such as a public apology to every family in our campus (all 29 of them - we were a large campus) for not following CC standards exactly. We're talking small things like how she allowed her tutors to magnet printouts on the board instead of handwriting the material. On the one hand, CC is trying to offer a consistent product. On the other hand, they are attempting to keep the cheapness of hiring "independent contractors" but then treat them like employees. So many of us have had negative experiences with this company's methods for control and been ignored when we ask CC leadership to address the problems that there is a public Facebook group discussing these issues. It's called "Exploring CC's Business Structure".
Our CC campus was great. We followed the curriculum, had a great director and great tutors. It was the company and its managers that ruined it for us. Our campus was dissolved after five very successful years.
That one reviewer would question whether the people leaving negatives reviews "love the Lord" gives you an idea of where this company and its most devoted followers' heads are at. I most certainly love the Lord and having a negative opinion from a bad experience with a multi-million dollar company doesn't change my standing with God.
Classical Conversations Review by AngelaApril 25, 2016Pros: Comprehensive program
Cons: Educational environment inconsistent
Grades Used: K through 7
CC offers a unique educational environment which in parent involvement is crucial. In the elementary years (up to grade 6), the students are given the facts and the parent is responsible to expand on the facts and to reinforce the material. It is dependent on the parent to go into the subject matter more deeply.
In the middle and high school years (starts at grade 7), the students are given assignments which are to be completed. The students then are able to discuss their research and explain the subject matter at the next meeting. They are encouraged to learn independently with parent and tutor assistance. Comprehensive curriculum with Christian apologetics.
I have been with CC for the past 2 years and had experience with 6 tutors. Our tutors and directors were committed Christian women.
This year, a 10 year-old classmate had disrespectful and disruptive behavior. His mother was a tutor for another class and was not present. The tutor had a son in the same classroom. The son and this classmate have been friends for years and they both had been in CC for years also. The issue was never addressed sufficiently. Some parents had their child withdraw from CC because of it. Others did not sign up for the coming year. My child did not like the drama and distractions; and it caused him to not look forward to class.
We signed up for CC next year, knowing that my child will not be in the same class as the said student. We like the CC program and highly recommend it for upper elementary and up. My kids are looking forward to next year also. For lower elementary, I feel that it is just a lot of material that is just too much for a kindergartener, first, or second grader.
Classical Conversations Review by Kira BroadwaterApril 25, 2016Pros: Great Classical Program, Excellent Home-school Support Base and Accountability, Excellent at Equipping both parent and student
Cons: Marginal cost (compare with any other program though, and it is a drop in the bucket)
Reading some of the current reviews of CC, I am shocked! Are these reviews from people who love the Lord?
I think that grace and truth, as well as a spirit of love and building one another up is what we should strive for as we objectively review any program for our children. In scripture we are taught to bring our children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They are our ministry. God has called us, as parents, not CC tutors or directors to be the teachers of our children. How they see us act and react to others is a direct reflection of our Savior.
That being said, my husband and I have been homeschooling for just five years, all five through Classical Conversations. Our choice is based off of the principle of putting Christ first in our home, and seeing God in all areas of our educational journey, as well as a belief in the classical model of learning. We have been a part of a very small three family CC community, as well as a full-community, and one with only three or four classes. We have sat under two directors, and numerous different tutors, who all work in different ways. It is not their job to be the perfect teacher to our children, it is our job as parents to work through every teachable moment as a reflection of Christ.
These teachable moments include not only responding to things we may or may not agree with/methods we do not prefer, but also the interest of our child regarding a piece of memory work. While many believe that younger children should dig deeper, and not simply memorize, they do not realize that there are moments to do so, but that is not the primary natural learning stage the child is in. Jump on those teachable moments and dive in! But, keep the focus on memorization during the early grammar stage.
This curriculum and program has done all the leg work of finding quality (not quantity/exhaustive) information to memorize as a foundation for digging in to that information in the rhetorical stage. It is easy to implement, great for time-efficient home-schooling, gives excellence in achievement to your child (especially if they master most or all of the information), provides accountability, and a great parent support base.
Essentials is not a difficult curriculum, but is overwhelming to those who do not approach it in baby steps. It is designed to master over a three year period, and in a classical method. Memorizing charts allows the child freedom from researching tools while trying to parse words in a sentence. All they have to do is reference the chart in their brain and follow the question confirmation they have memorized to help them figure out what a word is and how it functions in a sentence. While this may not make sense to many of you who are unfamiliar with the terms I have used, I will try to explain it in a different manner. The students approach a sentence with a set of questions such as who/what is this sentence about? (subject), noun or pronoun? (memorized from their chart is the definition of each. a noun names a person, place, or thing, activity, or idea, a pronoun replaces a noun in order to avoid repetition--i.e. I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they) ETC. The more questions they ask about the sentence, the more they understand each words role in the sentence. This allows the student to find any word and determine how it is used in context, even to the extent of whether it is a limiting adj., descriptive adj., or reflexive pronoun, etc. This is an excellent base for studying foreign languages (i.e. Greek, Hebrew, Latin, or modern languages such as French or Spanish, and understanding the meaning of any modern English text as well. Keep in mind, the student and parent are not expected to master the material the first year. The first year provides exposure and as much memorization as possible. Year two often allows a moderate level of understanding, more memorization, and more application. Year three is when parent and child really begin to understand the material to its fullest, and can work through any sentence, chart, or diagram. Memorization in year three continues, and review is constant. The program overall is an excellent language curriculum.
IEW is also a phenomenal program designed for both students who love and really do not like to write. It gives them checklists empowering them to write well, and a system of writing that provides confidence which gives birth to creativity and excitement for every student. It reinforces the memory work the student is already memorizing, allowing them to dig a little deeper, and teaches them the writing process successfully. The parent has the freedom to work through more of the book as well when CC is over for the year, providing reinforcement of the material, since the basics were covered in 24 weeks (this accounts for the extra chapters). Again, the parent is the teacher, and is encouraged to take their child through the program at the child's pace, and yet challenges them to stretch themselves academically. The accountability, and positive peer pressure drives the students to work hard in the classroom, and grow in a positive environment. Granted tutors change the mood of the classroom, but here is where grace and the educational team of parents with the tutor work together to strive toward improvement in all of the children.
CC is not a cult, by the way. CC is simply a support team to encourage, and empower parents and students on this often overwhelming home-schooling journey. Leigh Bortins does not set legalistic rules, but does set standards in communities for consistency, which is vital for families that relocate and desire consistency in their home-schooling. I love the fact that I came from the UP to Virginia Beach and still have the same "classes" and curriculum each week. Leigh is only a part of an administrative support team that does much of the grunt work, to make our life a little easier as we approach home-schooling. My children are flourishing in this program, each with a different learning "style".
In terms of growing the communities, parents are equipped to explain the classical model in three minutes and encouraged to tell others how the classical model works...not CC. This is so that the parents themselves understand rhetorically the model that they are choosing to educate with. True mastery of the model only comes when you are able to explain it to others. For instance, you cannot become a famous chef, until you understanding cooking well enough to teach others. Also, while many communities are growing to capacity, and directors are encouraged to fill the program, in the same manner, so does any local business, school, club, or ministry outreach. Do they force entrance and ostracize those who leave the program? No. CC is not chosen by everyone, and we as believers must stop comparing ourselves to others, and home-school moms to others. Let us encourage one another on whatever journey God has for our families, and in love strive to learn from one another, for we will never be the perfect parent, or the perfect educator. We simply have a task to remain faithful to the Lord in the ministry he has placed before each of us, and extend love and grace to those who have chosen differently.
Classical Conversations Review by SusanApril 3, 2016Pros: Great way to make friends.
Cons: Essentials Curriculum is Awful
Grades Used: 2-5th
I was in this program for two years, and I was disgusted by the curriculum and the director. The first year, I only had my children in the foundations program, because I was concerned the Essentials program might be too difficult for my daughter. Despite my repeated asking to see it, I was not allowed to look at the Essentials curriculum until I enrolled into it. Even then I was not allowed to see the curriculm until the practicum training and only after I had paid for it. If I had seen the curriculum, I would not have enrolled in this program. The Essentials curriculum (grammar and writing) is awful. The grammar book is so hard to understand, even the tutor (our director) didn't understand it. She would occasionally ask me what a word in a sentence on the board was (such as an adverb) because she couldn't recognize it herself (I had a really good grammar teacher in high school - apparently she didn't and she couldn't learn it from the curriculum itself, which was a bad sign).
The grammar curriculum is based on a list of grammar mastery charts (labeled A through GG) that the students are supposed to copy repeatedly until they learn them. There is very little explanation of how to recognize things such as nouns, verbs, adverbs, etc. Instead the kids memorize and list model sentences, parts of speech and lists of nouns, pronouns, etc. It's a fire-hose method of throwing everything at the children at once, and as a result, students who were in it for the second year, still didn't know much.
The writing curriculum was also frustrating. The source - Institute for Excellence in Writing or IEW is good, but the book - written apparently by I.E.W. for C.C. - is based on a 30-week program, and C.C. is a 24-week program, which meant we skipped about six chapters. You would think that the person who wrote the curriculum and the people who run the C.C. program might have communicated better before the curriculum was published, but not so.
The Foundations curriculum was okay, but as others have mentioned, memorizing facts without any background explanation doesn't work, and unless you keep reinforcing it over and over again, the kids forget it. I'm all for memorization of certain facts, such as the multiplication tables, but memorizing history and science statements without any background information is meaningless. We have switched to a different curriculum, and my daughter keeps saying how much more she is now learning.
We also had problems with cliques, and our director was just awful. She is rude and unpleasant until the end of the year and then she is sweet as honey, until you re-enroll. Then she's rude again. Everyone else was nice, but the director was so awful, that I'm glad to be free.
C.C. is currently the fad, but just because it is popular doesn't mean it's right, and it's overpriced as well. I would urge parents to proceed with caution.
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