Tag: Classical Conversations

My Biggest Mistake as a Homeschooling Mom

My Biggest Mistake as a Homeschooling Mom

It’s hard to believe that we’re already in our fifth year of homeschooling. Sometimes it feels like we’ve just begun and other days, when I talk to new homeschooling parents, I realize just how far we’ve come as a family.

When our older daughter was in Kindergarten, we joined a Classical Conversations community with me as her class tutor. Unfortunately, after the first six weeks or so, it became quite clear that I was not the right tutor for that group of students–and the pressure that I put on myself began to hurt my relationship with Addie.

Sometimes, when I feel guilty about that year, I joke with other moms about there being a reason that most five-year-olds go away to school. I make light of the day that I called my husband at work and asked him to meet me at the local elementary school to officially enroll Addie. I remember how excited she was to climb into the car  with a huge, empty backpack while I struggled with my emotions. I recall thinking about leaving her with perfect strangers, knowing that I was failing her both as a teacher and as her mother.

I didn’t enroll her in public school that day.

I sat behind the wheel of my car with my two sweet girls chattering in the backseat, thinking back over some of my worst moments of the previous month. My precious daughter–the most exuberant, innocent, compassionate person I have ever met, the one whose tenacity saved her life on more than one occasion–was beginning to hate me.

Despite being born 14 weeks early and struggling with several developmental delays as a toddler, Addie had more than caught up with her peers by her third birthday–testing at a speech level of a 5-year-old and learning to read shortly after. Her precociousness followed her to Kindergarten, where she memorized large pieces of memory work for Classical Conversations with little to no effort.

I made the mistake of misinterpreting her giftedness for ambition. I put unnecessary pressure on my little girl to do more, faster and without complaining. I pushed her when I should have offered grace. I took the fun out of learning. I made school more important than our relationship.

My Biggest Homeschooling Mistake
My Biggest Mistake as a Mom | child development, parenting, developmentally-appropriate learning, strong family relationships, homeschooling

I look back on that semester as a turning point for me and our homeschooling journey. In the past three years, I’ve relaxed A TON. Kate’s homeschool preschool experience has been completely different than her sister’s.

And in the meantime, I’ve seen Addie excel at the same skills that I pushed on her before she was developmentally ready. My little girl who cried through handwriting practice two years ago now regularly writes her own short stories for fun.

We take time to snuggle on the couch now. I look her in the eyes and listen to her most important thoughts that she just can’t wait to share. We take a lot of breaks. We laugh more. Sing Brave at the top of our lungs. Dance till we can’t catch our breath.

Homeschooling is about more than checking off a list of topics covered and getting through all the material by the end of the year. I’m thankful I learned that lesson early on!

This post was originally published on my previous blog, lonestarsigners.com.

Classical Conversations Review Game

Classical Conversations Review Game

When our girls were little and we were new to homeschooling, we joined a Classical Conversations community. Both of our girls are auditory learners, and we had a lot of fun learning the memory work together. Even though we no longer participate in a local community, we continue to listen to our memory work CDs and play our Classical Conversations review game.

Classical Conversations Memory Work Review Game

Creating the Game Board

I created our Classical Conversations review game board from an old box. Since I planned on using the 3.5 x 5 index cards in our Charlotte Mason memory box, I cut 4 x 4.5 pockets out of colored construction paper. Based on the size of the box, I ended up with 32 pockets—but you may end up with a different amount.

Memory Work Box

Here is a photo of our memory work box. We have three sections: odd/even, days of the week, and numbers 1-31 (days of the month). Each time we play the game, I pull the memory work cards out of the box, stuff the pockets, and set the timer.

memory work box

If we were playing today (Monday, March 10th), I would pull cards from EVEN, Monday, and 10.

How We Play

We usually play with two dice, one with colors and the other with numbers 1-6. Whatever number/color she rolls, that’s the question she needs to answer.

When the timer goes off, we count up the cards she got right. For every question she gets right, she gets a minute of time to play a math game on the iPad, which is pretty motivating to keep her moving through the questions as quickly as possible.

Based on her responses, I file the cards back into our memory work box. We go over the questions she gets wrong or struggles with, and then those cards go into the next day (ODD). All correct questions from the current six weeks go back into the day of the week (Monday). The rest of the questions are filed into numbers 1-31 based on the week of the memory cycle.

Ideally, we would play our game daily, but that just doesn’t happen in real life. However, we’ve found that this Classical Conversation review game keeps things random and fun. And even the 2.5-year-old likes to play!

Do you have a memory work box? 
How do you review memory work with your children?
Classical Conversations Memory Work Review Game
Classical Conversations & Kindergarten

Classical Conversations & Kindergarten

It’s hard to believe that we only have FOUR weeks left of Classical Conversations this year! We have had a great experience with the curriculum, so I wanted to share our thoughts with any other families who might be considering the program for their own young children.

(Reminder: Rolling Prairie Readers uses affiliate links at no additional cost to you.You can see our full disclosure policy here.)

This is Addie’s Kindergarten year. She turned 5 in June and had been reading for nearly a year before that. She has an amazing (!!) audio-visual learning style; she can easily match pitch, remember song lyrics, and describe an illustration in a picture book perfectly.

After three and a half years of watching her easily quote Signing Time videos word-for-word, I knew immediately that a classical education was something I wanted to try with her. If your child memorizes easily, Classical Conversations will likely be an excellent fit.

Last spring, I read Leigh Bortin’s The Core  for the first time. Her educational standards are extremely high, but they resonated with me immediately. Even though I excelled in the public school system, I still feel like my own education has a ton of gaps. I am thankful that I love to read and learn on my own, and especially grateful that I get to learn right along with my daughter as she goes through math, science, and history lessons that I don’t remember.

(Sidenote: my 8th-grade history teacher played the School House Rock “Preamble” video at the beginning of every class, and to this day, I have it memorized.

Our minds are much more capable than we give them credit for!)

In addition to our language arts and math curriculum, Addie and I spend about 30 minutes a day on her Classical Conversations memory work. We play Review Game for 20 minutes, and she usually has one copywork page for each subject to complete each day. We also attend our three-hour community day on Mondays—which includes fine arts, science, presentations, and memory work review.

In just 20 weeks of Classical Conversations, I have watched my five-year-old memorize HUGE amounts of information. And it’s not just that she’s memorized random facts; she is starting to notice mentions of people, places, and events everywhere: books, videos, billboards, you name it!

During a church lesson, she heard mention of Alexander the Great and could immediately put the story into context of the Greek Empire. Woodrow Wilson? He was President of the United States during World War I! Skip-counting by 13s? No problem with a simple little tune.

We were even able to discuss Newton’s First Law of Motion while reading a picture book last week (a horse stopped running and his riders flew off his back onto a haypile). These are obviously not items typically covered in Kindergarten, but Addie loves the challenge!

Our goal for Kindergarten is to memorize the Timeline song (14 minutes long), most of the math and history sentences, plus Ephesians 6. Next year, when we work through Cycle 3, two of her seven subjects will be a simple review! (Math and Timeline repeat through all three cycles of memory work.)

Have you heard of classical education? What was the last thing your child memorized?

This post was originally shared on my previous blog (lonestarsigners.com) on February 24, 2014.