The Christian Classical Model of Education
"To know God and to make Him known."
The very phrase had been echoed to me over and over from various friends and home educators and although I thought it was a novel idea and a truth I very much wanted for my own family, I had not quite bought into the idea of Classical Conversations. In a past post I explained how I was very much a Charlotte Mason girl at heart, but 4 years ago almost to the date, God continued to lay something out in front of my face. Not just once, but over and over and over again until I said, "YES!". That very thing was Classical Conversations.
All Summer I had been praying that God would lead us to the right community where we could plug in and have friends and support who were on the same journey of education we chose. I was on a couple waiting lists, and my dear friend from High School had reached out to me and met up with me several times to gently explain Classical Conversations. I enjoyed spending time with her sweet family and very much admired what a great job she was doing with her children, but I did not want to cave.
However, God made it abundantly clear (as in we ran into 3 people over the course of a weekend who mentioned they did Classical Conversations and continued to rave about their experience and offered to show us the curriculum..hello billboard). Classical Conversations was where God was leading us (truly, he works hard to get through to this stubborn girl). I immediately called my friend Kristin asking if we could get into a nearby community where she was directing, and she so sweetly let me know that her group was pretty full, but I could probably get into another one close by. That community got us in and we have never looked back. It has been incredibly clear this community is for us. The level of support, love, and friendships we have gained along the way is unlike any other I have experienced anywhere.
So I thought it would only be appropriate that my sweet friend and encourager Kristin Phillips explain to you a little more about the classical model of educating and her experience as a homeschooling Mama of 4.
Tell us a little about your family. How many children do you have and what are their ages?
I have 4 kids. 5th, 3rd, Kindergarten and a 4-year-old.
How long have you been homeschooling and what made you decide you wanted to homeschool?
We have been homeschooling since the beginning. This is a journey for us not only for educational purposes but for discipleship and character building.
How would you describe your homeschool style?
We homeschool with the classical Christian model of education.
For someone who may not know what the Classical model of education is, how would you explain it?
I would say that Classical Christian education is a style of educating which emphasizes first and foremost a deep understanding of a Biblical worldview with the model of teaching in three stages. These stages consist of the knowledge/grammar stage, the Understanding/logic stage, and the wisdom/rhetoric stage.
**In thinking about how to help readers better understand a Classical Model, I would also add that the Classical approach does lead a child through 3 stages of teaching which are parallel to the ways in which a child grows in both maturity and cognitively. It finally clicked with me because I had someone explain it to me in terms of how a doctor goes through several stages until they finally become an official doctor. First they have the schooling where they learn the terms, next they go through residency where they are practicing what they know with help and guidance from others, and finally, they are in the real world where they get to apply what they learned and gained in experience and knowledge.
Do you use one main curriculum or a mix of several?
We do Classical Conversations and add in our additional curriculum which would co-inside with the Classical Conversations Curriculum. Additional curriculum may include Story of the World, timeline cards, YouTube videos for Science, devotionals and copy work or cursive workbooks for the older kids and Math.
How did you land on your style of education and curriculum for your family?
We believe CC (Classical Conversations) is an all-encompassing program providing the best style of education for our family, which would include our core Christian beliefs as well as a strong community aspect.
Do you attend any co-ops/community days/nature study groups/field trip groups?
We attend Classical Conversations once a week as well as monthly field trips with our CC community.
What does a typical homeschool day look like in your home? Do you have a certain start and stop times, or are you flexible throughout your day?
We are fairly structured. A typical day would begin at 8:15 where I read to the kids for 30 minutes, followed by 30 minutes of history. Next, we do CC memory work for 30 minutes. I would then do Essentials, which is equivalent to language arts with the older two in the style of a one-room schoolhouse, and then a math lesson as in a one-room schoolhouse for the other two. As they are working on their math lesson I begin with my kindergartner and then we break for lunch and do chores and come back to finish our reading and anything from the day that had not yet been completed.
Do you homeschool year round, or just 9ish months out of the year?
We take a summer break
What have been some of your biggest challenges in homeschooling your children?
I am often pulled in different directions by each of the kids but this has been a growing experience in better training my kids and myself. There is always something we can be doing better and we strive to do so! Homeschooling is a journey that has stretched and brought growth to both myself and my kids.
What would you say is the biggest reward in homeschooling your family?
The biggest reward of homeschooling for me is the relationship that is built from the quality time and investment with each of the kids.
What is your current favorite homeschool resource?
Classical Conversations curriculum, and then on the parent end Teaching from Rest by Sarah Makenzie.
Do you read-a-loud as a family, if so, what is your favorite (or top 3) read-a-loud books?
The Priscilla Shirer's series, Prince of Warriors, Chuck Black's Kingdom series and then Story of the World.
How do you balance homeschool and family life or outside extra curricular’s?
I think homeschooling is a part of our family life, we have the opportunity to do everything together and then share our day with dad at dinner and talk about what we are learning. We get to take more field trips and we get to make our schedule unique to what works for extracurricular activities.
Being a Homeschool Mom takes a servant heart and a lot of sacrifices; How do you find time to take care of yourself, or make sure you are doing something you love and enjoy?
I make sure to save time to work out during the kids quiet reading time, and then we have time where the kids either play outside in the afternoon or play quietly in their rooms if the weather is poor so I am able to work and get things done around the house.
If you could give one piece of advice to a Mom who is contemplating homeschooling her children, what would you say? Or, what is the best advice you have been given in regards to homeschooling?
A friend once said to me "You get one chance to raise your kids!" That is a strong statement and so important. The Lord has entrusted these souls to my husband and I to Shepard and care for as well as educate and disciple, we know we are the best people for our children to be influenced by in all these areas.
I am so thankful for Kristin and her insight and encouragement! I think the biggest thing that sticks out for me in a classical education, is teaching your child how to learn and how, not what, but how to think. Tools that will benefit them all their life. If you would like to learn more about Classical Conversations, you can follow the link.
If you have any questions we would love to answer them in any way. Homeschooling can be overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be! There is such a great support of Mamas out there who all encourage those questions!
Next week I am going to highlight the homeschool method of Charlotte Mason and we will hear some great information from another Mama who is both encouraging and inspirational in this field. Stay tuned!