Tuesday, April 5, 2016

A Day in the Life of...

A lot of people ask what we do at Classical Connections. Or people hear about it from friends and wonder what all the fuss is about.

On one hand, what we do is very simple. We read books, we write stories, we observe nature, we memorize Scripture and poetry, we study grammar. We employ much of the same curriculum as full-on classical schools. We use all of the same methods of teaching and learning. What Classical Connections does is neither rocket science nor revolutionary. What we do is something that every family can do on its own and in its own home.

On the other hand, what we do is unlike any other educational program. As far as we know, there is no other supplemental classical program. Children have the chance to learn and engage with their friends. They have the opportunity to enhance their public education by focusing on areas of education that are vital for developing skills that help students be agents of change rather than consumers of culture.

Essentially, it's a program that does all of the things (with friends) that you want to do with your kids, but either don't have time to do or haven't figured out a way to get it started. But, we've written about these things before. We have posts that explain the why behind what we do, we have posts about (and others have written about) the value of classical education and teaching students how to think and how to learn, but still, that doesn't give you a breakdown of what we do every time we meet. So, here goes:

A SAMPLE CLASS DAY at Classical Connections

3:00-3:15: Students arrive and have time to check out books from our growing library. We have a CC Reading List that has compiled reading lists from classical schools, reading specialists, authors, bookstore owners, and all of the books in our library are from these lists (separated by grade). Students have the opportunity to earn gift certificates from pizza places, donut stores, bookstores, Chickfila for reading a certain number of books per semester from these lists.
3:15: Review Vocabulary Words/Discuss Extra Activities/Review Story
3:20: READ together from our selected reading book. (We read a book that's above the average reader's skill to challenge their reading and because we are reading and discussing together.) Discuss a particular reading comprehension skill like plot development, noticing details, context clues, character development
3:35: NATURE OBSERVATION-- We do various activities ranging from growing vegetables and observing life cycles of bugs to simple, silent time observing aspects of nature. The purpose of this time is to teach students to slow down, to focus attention, and to develop observational skills. Students need this time to both chill out and to focus so they can learn to be observant. Students who are observant are curious, and curious students are great learners.
3:45: WRITING-- Our students imitate the writing of other great writers. We walk through a simple process of writing/imitating a couple of different selected pieces of writing. By the end of each semester, the students have written 2-3 "publishable" pieces of writing. We stress the importance of editing and improving writing.
4:00: MEMORIZATION-- The students memorize a passage of Scripture and/or poetry together. Students are capable of memorizing much more than we imagine they are capable of memorizing. For reasons why this is an important skill, read some of these articles about the stages of classical education and the value of memorization.
4:08: GRAMMAR-- We work on grammar in lots of different ways. Sometimes we do songs, sometimes we play games, sometimes we work on editing sentences. No matter what, grammar is key to learning how to properly express oneself and is a prerequisite for learning advanced writing and speaking skills.

While it's easy for parents to recognize these incredible learning opportunities that the kids are being offered, the students rarely recognize how much they are learning. That doesn't mean that they aren't learning, but rather that the lessons sink in while they're having fun. I cannot stress enough (and it's sort of hard to believe until you hear your student begging to come) that this is fun. It has to be to work.

It is a lot of learning, but it is a whole lot of fun.  

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