Last week, I attended the Chicago Area Classical Conversations 3-day Practicum (Parent Training) here in Andersonville. Prior to the practicum, I felt 80% sure I should seriously explore homeschool options for David's kindergarten year, Fall 2015. Classical Conversations had not yet been ruled out and lucky for me, it was so close.
On Day 1, I felt a firm push to consider CC upon seeing a very dear friend in attendance. I admire this friend, and special education teacher, for the way she raises her two adopted sons on the West side while committed to ministry. She's planned to homeschool for as long as I've known her and I respect her perspective on educational processes and values. Her choosing to do CC at the South Loop location simply encouraged me to listen more closely over the next 3 days.
By Day 3, the boys had thoroughly enjoyed their 'day camps' at the practicum. David loved his camp teacher who turned out to be the director of the South Loop CC. I had a acquired a pretty good understanding of the Classical Model, called the Trivium, which divides learning into 3 stages - Knowledge (Grammar), Understanding (Dialectic) and Wisdom (Rhetoric). To explain the theory and practical application would require a phone call conversation. Their site explains the basics. And, by Day 3, I felt I had made a few friends, some who live near by.
Good things learned
- The South Loop group is new, and I will be new!
- CC structure fosters parental accountability, and children generally respond well to peer encouragement
- The first years focus on memorization of terms (Grammar Stage) through song, play, and activity. Older years are freed up to form ideas, debate and present on their large inventory of facts.
- Class day is 1x/week where the parent tutor (not me, I hope) teaches and reviews memory work w/white board and activities.
- Children speak in front of class each week and periodically present to entire CC group.
Decision time is still in the uncertainty of next year, yet I'm feeling resolved that CC will be our first step as we navigate education in Chicago. Tripp and I had the privilege of talking in length with two CPS teachers a week ago. I asked them questions which I felt were answered honestly and thoughtfully and confirmed our leaning towards home education for Kindergarten. For now, I still need to take a tour of our neighborhood school, but plan to forgo registration for the CPS lottery process this Fall.