Tag Archives: Classical Conversations Essentials Program

On the Eve of My 1st Day as an Essentials Mom: Essentials Encouragement

17 Aug

Essentials

I posted last month a two-part Q&A: How To Gear Up For Essentials. (Missed the posts? Find them here and here.) A reader commented and shared her wonderful wisdom, and as I head to bed tonight and will awaken an Essentials parent on the morrow, I am repeating her sage sentences in my mind. Starting or recently beginning your Essentials journey? These words are for you and me:

I have had the pleasure of attending Essentials for five years and tutoring for three of them. I would like to also add that Essentials is a class that enables the parent to meet the needs of their student wherever they are academically. The degree of ability of the students and parents will vary, and it all works out quite nicely. Since it is designed to be a three year course which mimics the Trivium, no prior formal preparation in an English grammar program is necessary particularly if the parent chooses to spend those years simply engaging their child in good literature. Most parents will be learning right along side their students, and that is okay! If you are a first time Essentials parent, I recommend to adjust your expectations accordingly, be diligent in your efforts, and remember your second year will look nothing like your first year!

Thank you, Melinda!

Also, heading to bed reminding myself that the Lord is with me—always, and that includes Essentials class. 🙂

I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come?
My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in
from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 121 ESV)

Essentials Program: How To Gear Up For Your First Year (Part 2)

22 Jul

Essentials.Part Two

Thanks for joining us for Part 2 of my Q&A with Julie Largent about how to gear up for the Essentials Program of Classical Conversations. If you missed Part 1, you’ll find it here.

Today, we look at 4 additional questions related to preparing for Essentials. This will be my family’s first year of Essentials, and I have been sooooo nervous about it! However, reading Julie’s wisdom has calmed my heart and mind! I pray you will be able to say this at the conclusion of today’s post, too!

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5) For first year Essentials parents who are planning to do Essentials a second and third time, how do you suggest discerning how much or how little of an assignment should be done?

God Almighty has put you as their parent and He will give you the wisdom and discernment on how much can be done. I would encourage you to not push them so hard that they feel overwhelmed, but at the same time realize this program is meant to step things up and move into the dialectic stage so know your child well and be ready to stop and pick up the next day or continue on to show them they can do it. Just remind yourself, it is meant to take 3 years to grasp it…..even now I’m STILL learning and this will be my 5th year in Essentials!

6) What advice do you have for first year Essentials parents whose child will have one year only in Essentials before moving up to Challenge?

Repetition repetition repetition! Truly having a strong foundation of the English language will be extremely beneficial in learning Latin in Challenge. Having said that, don’t go in thinking you’ll have to understand everything in one year. Trust the Sovereign Lord, if He’s called you to Essentials for one year and move to Challenge He will bless your efforts. As in anything, work as unto the Lord. I’m not trying to being over spiritual:), there are just some concerns/fears we need to lay at His feet.

7) Do you have any advice to offer parents of reluctant writers?

This is one, of many, reasons I love IEW because Andrew Pudewa says it allows the young boy who would rather poke himself in the eye with is pencil than write a paragraph about what he did over the summer as well as the young girl who can creatively and effortlessly write five pages without really saying much. It is almost like a math equation because you choose from a list and fill in blanks. It’s much more than that, but it helps those brains who don’t do well with coming up with things on their own. This builds a foundation to build on and I’ve seen it over and over again that they begin to use their own brains and don’t need to simply fill in blanks. It also helps organize the five pages of creativity into a well constructed paragraph or story. I had several 4th grade boys this last year and their moms were very hesitant. I can say without a doubt, those boys absolutely thrived!!! It was beautiful to watch!

8) Now that you’ve been through Essentials, both as a parent and an Essentials Tutor, what do you wish you had known or done before beginning the Essentials program?

Honestly, you can step in to your first year and do fine having only the Foundation English Grammar memory work, but I use First Language Lessons for my younger kids. I feel it feeds nicely into Essentials. I’ve heard of others that also work well, but I’m not familiar with them**. Our very first year with CC my 4th grader was in Essentials. I was doing well to keep my head above the water so I wish I would have been more familiar with the guide before the class started….this seems like the story of my life! haha

**Before starting our first year of CC, I was wisely encouraged by seasoned CC Moms to alter the definitions for whichever English Grammar curricula you use at home to align with the CC definition. In previous years, we have used First Language Lessons and Shurley Grammar. When either curricula had a definition for my sons to memorized, I substituted the CC definition instead. This practice has worked well for our family. By pairing these various curricula with the English Grammar definitions memorized in CC, a bridge between CC and the curriculum concept was provided. This aided my sons by minimizing the confusion of memorizing multiple definitions. The CC English Grammar definitions memorized in Foundations are used in Essentials, so this is another way to prepare your child for the dialectic discussions that await in Essentials!

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Thank you, Julie, for graciously sharing your wisdom with us! For those of you reading this post who have journeyed previously through Essentials, what would be your advice for Essentials “newbies?” Feel free to comment below!

Julie Largent lives with her husband and 4 kiddos in the Philadelphia area. If you’re in the Philly area, checkout their church plant!  Find Julie on Twitter: @j_largent 

 

Essentials Program: How To Gear Up For Your First Year (Part 1)

21 Jul

Essentials.Part One
For those of you who are avid followers of my Facebook page, I owe you a HUGE apology! I promised 10 days ago that I would have this post up on the blog. Upon just completing the busiest 10 days of my life (2 sons’ birthdays, a birthday party for both, hosting 45 family members for a family reunion, and getting ready to depart for a mission trip), time vanished before my eyes! Please forgive me, friends! This is SUCH a great post (thank you, Julie!), so I hope you’ll find it was worth the wait! 🙂

One of the greatest joys from this blog is getting to know other amazing women across the country and around the world! I am so blessed to have “met” Julie Largent (via the internet only, sadly! Hoping we can meet in person in the future!). She and I instantly connected as we are both married to church planters and are Classical Conversations moms! Our family will be starting the Essentials Program with Classical Conversations this fall. Julie is a veteran Essentials tutor and parent, so I asked her if she would do a Q&A with me regarding preparing for Essentials, an “Essentials-for-Newbies,” if you will. She graciously agreed! Today, Julie answers 4 questions to help us gear up for Essentials. Join us tomorrow as we will finish up with 4 final questions.

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1) At the first Classical Conversations Practicum that I attended, an Essentials tutor conducted an Essentials demonstration. At the conclusion of the demo, she said, “If I can just get the parents to not freak out in front of their kids (The children aren’t freaking out; it’s the parents!) and make it through the first six weeks of Essentials, all will go well.” What advice would you give new Essentials parents to talk themselves off the ledge those first six weeks of Essentials? How can parents (and children) thrive, not simply survive, those pivotal first 6 weeks?

So true! Except I feel it’s more like the first 3 weeks. I love how Leigh puts it; this is a 3 year tour. You are not meant to grasp it all in one year. Also, the first 2-3 weeks we are showing the entire massive puzzle of the program. Then, we take it apart and rebuild it piece by piece. It’s kind of like putting your mouth around a fire hydrant and trying to drink. Just remind the parents to stick with it; it does slow down. I would encourage the parents to read the lessons each week with your student. Explain to the parents to not to get discouraged, but do their best. It does pay off!

 2) What would you recommend as “summer reading” for new Essentials parents from the Essentials of the English Language (ELL) guide and Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) guide in order to get their Essentials year off on the right foot?

Become extremely familiar with the EEL guide. Read, highlight, underline, take notes or whatever you need to on pages 3-23 of the EEL guide. If you feel your student would understand some of it, I would have them also read it, or you can simply read it together. Talk with your Essentials Tutor or other Essentials moms on how to organize your binder. There will still be a learning curve, but this will help start off well.

For IEW, I would say organize your SRN (Student Resource Notebook) with tabs in order to make it easy to find things. Become familiar with the teacher’s guide as well. I just received my ‘new’ IEW books for cycle 3, and I anticipate looking over them. The format is just slightly different than the previous years’ books, so even experienced moms might want to familiarize themselves with it. Read up on suggestions on how to organize your time through the week for each assignment.

3) What are your “must have” resources for at-home use with the Essentials program?

Must haves: EEL guide (Essentials of the English Language), dry erase markers, a spiral notebook, pens (Andrew Pudewa strongly encourages only the use of pens:), TWSS notebook (Teaching Writing Structure and Style), dry erase board, SRN, IEW Student book, the EEL tri-fold, and a synonym finder and thesaurus.

4) What does a typical day look like at home for completing Essentials homework?

If you read in the EEL guide, Leigh gives an example of what a typical day may look like (p. 19-22 of EEL guide). This depends largely on the student and where they are on this journey. For 1st year students, it may work well to set a timer for 15 minutes and stop wherever you are; start there again the next day. Another option is to copy 1/2 of the chart or every word that is in bold or in a box or everything except what’s in italics or everything including italics. For 2nd and 3rd year students, they may be able to whip through some of these charts quickly! If your student struggles with handwriting or it exhausts them, have them dictate it to you sometimes. You scale it to what fits your student. This is just one of many options of how to schedule your day at home. It may take several weeks to get in a routine and find what works best. Then, I say work on a sentence a day and do the assigned number of tasks listed in your weekly lesson in your EEL guide. It may take your 15-20 at the beginning of the year and longer towards the end. Again, this will depend greatly on where your student is and what they are ready for. IEW may look differently each week depending on the assignment. We would spend about 30-45 a day on IEW after the first few weeks.

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Thank you, Julie, for sharing your wisdom with us! Join us back tomorrow as Julie answers four additional questions to help us prepare for Essentials!

Julie Largent lives north of Philadelphia with her husband and 4 kiddos. If you’re in the area, checkout their church plant!  Find Julie on Twitter: @j_largent