Homeschooling for our family signifies a certain level of freedom, independence, and family unity. As a homeschool family we are not tied to a school calendar or someone else telling us when and where we need to be. It fits our family dynamics and character traits that we want to teach our children.
Rewind 2 years to the 2014-2015 school year and I was at my wits end. I had an 8th grader, 5th grader, 2 grader, and 3 toddlers that year. To say that I was at my wits end at the close of each school day was an understatement. It took everything I had most days to keep the 3 youngest out of trouble and quiet enough for the older 3 to get a little bit of work done. Because of this dynamic my older children were quickly learning that they didn’t have to do their school work. Their academics were slipping simply because I didn’t have the time or mental capacity to manage them, the toddlers, a business, family, and a home all at the same time.
When the year came to a close I began to consider our options for the following year. I knew I wanted something with more structure for my older children. A place where they would experience positive peer pressure to excel at their studies. Classical conversations, a classical based homeschool community had been on my radar in years past but the timing for us to join was never right.
However at the close of the ’14-’15 school year I felt that our time had come to try out a local community.
That fall we joined a wonderful community in our town and I saw my children excel and shine again. It was wonderful. Not only were they learning and growing but they were building friendships. Because of our success that first year it only seemed natural to join another year.
Our second year of classical conversations started this fall. I was excited because all of my children were of age to be in Foundations or higher. I was looking forward to my littles learning alongside their older siblings and joining us in weekly review exercises.
That is until I had a change of heart.
I don’t know what started the change but from the beginning of the new school year I struggled to find peace in our community and CC studies. I no longer felt a sense of community or belonging in our group. My children were not learning in their weekly class time.
I no longer felt a connection to the classical model of homeschooling to the level which is required for participating in a CC community. I had moved away from my Charlotte Mason heart to join classical conversations and in the end that had been a very poor choice on my part. While I still enjoy and will continue to use certain aspects of the classical method, my heart truly lies with Ms. Mason and her style of learning.
The CM method I feel fits our family and the freedom that embodies the purpose behind homeschooling. Mason is a huge proponent of freedom and learning in a relaxed community environment.
However, I had committed to participating for the entire year but just a few weeks in and I was already dreading each week of community. Despite the financial commitment I knew after considerable amount of prayer that God was calling us away from our CC group.
I don’t know what He has in store for my family but I do know that I need to follow His lead and obey His calling. It is not my job to question. It is my job as His daughter to obey.
So here I am, free of a homeschool group and back to co-op free homeschooling as in previous years. I am looking forward to our freedom. We have our Thursdays back again to do as we want. I am not tied to a curriculum or program that I am not 100% on board with. I will miss the friendships I have developed over the past year but in this season of life my family is my priority and most important ministry.
Our oldest son will continue with the challenge program because it is a good fit for his needs. However, at this time there no plans for our 5 other children to continue in the classical conversations community.
If you find yourself in a similar place with a homeschool group or community situation, please know that you are not alone. If you feel unsettled, listen to that feeling and pray for God to make your decision crystal clear. Follow His guidance, He will not let you down or abandon you in your time of need.
I know plenty of families that absolutely love classical conversations. But I also know that it isn’t a good fit for every family. Our family is one of the latter.
What has been your experience with classical conversations or a homeschool group in general?