We had always been entertaining the idea of homeschooling our children, but only last year did we seriously ponder over it.
On one side, there was our extrovert four-year-old who constantly craved for friends to play with, yet unfortunately more and more peers of hers could no longer be found at the playgrounds as they were getting busier with schools and homeworks. On the other side, we wanted her preschool years to be filled with plenty of play and free time instead of academic schooling – as is healthy for a four-year-old, but the preschools that shared our philosophy were just beyond expensive. And then, there were also the reasonable inquiries from the grandparents if their eldest granddaughter would be starting any formal education soon.
Considering all the above, we concluded that if we were to continue with our education philosophy for our eldest daughter, we would need to find a community of people to do this homeschooling thing together. This we hoped would provide healthy peer interactions for her and also assure our own parents that we were not queerly doing this alone, that we had a community that supported us and a community we were accountable to.
That was how we decided to join a Classical Conversations (CC) community, a Christian homeschooling community that pursues a Christian classical model of education. If I could summarize it simply, classical education is a philosophy of education in which the goal is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue in its students, using the greatest ideas and thinkings of the wise men past as its main resources, learned by its students through three major stages called the Trivium:
3. Rhetoric stage (where students learn to synthesize ideas based on what they have learned and present their case in the most persuasive way possible).
I like to think of these three steps as the steps I take in making a meal: get the ingredients, cook, present. And I think, in essence, almost everything naturally goes through the trivium process, like how my preschooler and toddler memorize my vocabularies, internalize them, and spit them out back at me to their advantage, can you relate? 😒 Anyway, if you’d like to find out more about classical education, you can start here.
So, back to the community, we were really blessed to have found a CC community nearby (with a toddler in tow, I could only do minimum traveling). We met once a week with several families from 9 AM to 12 PM. Our community day always started with prayer, scripture memorization, and national pledge, after which a tutor (CC engages one mother of the families as tutor) would guide the class through:
5. Review of the previous 6 weeks’ grammars. With so many things going on and so many facts to memorize, it seems rather hefty, doesn’t it? Thankfully, it was not as intimidating as it seemed to be. Points 2 to 5 involved a lot of moving around, games and hands-on moments so they were engaging. Now, for the new grammars memory work, although we used many creative ways to aid the memorization process, I have to admit that the amount of informations needed soaking up were not few. However, we were really impressed with how the children did it quite effortlessly! It’s not mere hear-say, children truly have amazing minds and memorizing comes naturally to them. (Think how our toddlers just copy whatever they hear from their surroundings.) And I was not less surprised to find that old brains like ours – the parents’, could keep up too when re-trained!
A CC year spans across 24 weeks, usually with a break every 6 weeks, following the U.S. school year it starts in September and ends in April before the summer break. We have just finished one cycle last April and are loving the long break, but we also miss the weekly meet-ups, especially the fellowship over lunch and the playground time afterwards.
For now, we are keeping the academic side of the learning light for our eldest, and we intend to keep it that way throughout her preschool years (after all, it’s called pre-school for a reason). To us, most importantly her needs for meaningful and extended interactions with peers were met through the CC community. When asked what she liked most about CC, she replied “My friends, of course!” And we are glad for her.
As for me, I am thankful for a community of very supportive and gracious Christian families. Homeschooling can be a lonely journey, it is tough and is often full of doubts. Having a group of committed people to journey together is truly a blessing.
Looking back, we thank God for a blessed and fruitful year. Looking forward, we can’t wait for September to come!