16 August 2021
Our journey into the land of homeschooling began with a good dose of fear. “I don’t want to screw up my kids!” was the prevailing worry as I looked at my then 5 and 3 year old. Could I do this? Could I do this WELL? (Without going insane?!) Early on I stumbled upon a home-schooling blog that provided much needed encouragement, by pointing me back to God’s Word.
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” Deut. 6:7
“Teach them to your children, by talking about them when you are sitting around your house and when you are out and about, when you are lying down and when you are getting up.” Deut. 11:19
Both verses show that if you want to impart something to your children, it will require a lot of consistent togetherness. My husband and I knew that our hearts’ desire was for our children to know Jesus, and this certainly shifted the way we began looking at home-schooling. According to the verses above, the best way to do this is through time spent together. Lots of it. Instead of home-schooling just being about how best to impart academics, it became a “whole-child” conversation. Two things gave me great peace in those early months. An absolute assurance that God had Called us to this path, and that if He had Called us, He would equip us! And so we stepped out in Faith…
Shortly thereafter, God began Calling us in another way, and this leap of faith saw us moving from Georgia, USA to Somerset West, South Africa, my husband’s hometown. I quickly got involved with our local homeschooling group, and was a regular attendee to field trips, playdates, and mom’s meetups. But no matter how many events I went to, and how many great people I met, it was a struggle to form deeper friendships. Different people attended different events, we homeschooled for various reasons, had different world-views, and even used different curriculum. How could I find “my people?” Like minded people who were homeschooling for similar reasons, had similar goals, and wanted the same end results? How could we support each-other to meet those goals, encourage each other through the hard times, and be equipped where we felt ourselves lacking? For those of us who felt Called to Homeschool, it is vital, because staying the course is also about obedience. And God didn’t Call us to do this job poorly!
Enter in Classical Conversations! CC was a program I had heard about and seen at an expo while still living in the States. It was a program I was drawn to and really wanted to participate in, but there were no Communities in South Africa at that time. They had my information on file, and I got busy with our move. It was after living in South Africa for about 2 years when a CC friend from the US let me know that a Community had formed in Cape Town. I was SO excited! I was willing to drive once a week into the city just to become a part of that community, and I couldn’t wait to learn more! Upon making contact I learned that there was no community… Just someone interested, named… ME. I was devastated. And slowly I began to ask myself, if I’m this devastated… what would it take to actually start a community? And start, we did!! There are a lot of details I could add here, but what I was asked to share is what impact being a part of CC has had on my home-school journey. So let me focus the rest of my attention there.
I found my tribe!! So did my children! With weekly meet-ups, acquaintances became friends, and those friends became a solid friendship circle! We’ve been in CC since 2015, and here is how I have watched my children progress. From simple information that was presented to them in simple ways, art projects, science experiments, review games, snacks, giggles and conversations, my children learned the basics about the world around them. As they entered into the Essentials program at age 9, they began to add more details to some of the history information they had learned, deepening their knowledge. They began to learn a deeper understanding of English Grammar and how sentences are constructed, how to write essays, creative writings, and even to fuse ourlines. They grew in confidence as every week they would stand in front of their classmates and present… presentations, weekly writing assignments, or answering grammar questions. They were able to do this in a supportive environment of friends and trustworthy adults. At home, the simple information they were learning in their Foundations classes became pegs on which to hang more information. For example, they learned that the Roman Empire divided into the Eastern and Western Empires. They also learned that what followed was an east/west schism of the Catholic Church. So, when at home learning about the nation of Greece, and finding them to be Greek Orthodox, my children made the connection that Greece must have been on the Eastern side of the split, since they weren’t Roman Catholic. I could list more and more examples of instances like this, where I would sit in shock and wonder of how these memory pegs were allowing my children to catch random information presented from all over, grasp it, and understand how to fit it into the bigger picture of history, science, and more.
In Challenge, or CC’s high school program, I have seen every week how the information they learned in Foundations, the understanding they began to form in Essentials as well as the skills they developed there, have come to provide a firm foundation for the efforts we put forth in Challenge. What are those efforts? Firstly, it is to find our Creator in all that we study. It is to learn the skills of thinking, so that we can discover truth for ourselves, and develop the skills of writing and presenting, so we can communicate those truths to others. It is a rich curriculum! If you haven’t already, you should look at the Challenge levels regardless of how old your children are, because Challenge is the goal! You want to make sure you want the goal you’ll be working towards. As we prepare for high-school graduation, I can say with confidence that I believe the Challenge Program provides everything my children will need for whatever their futures hold! We are choosing to pursue an American High-school Diploma, through HLA, and it is fully accredited, and accepted by South African Universities.
As a parent, I can only point my children to Jesus. I cannot make them believe, or make them choose to follow Jesus with their whole heart. But what CC helps me to do as a parent, is to give them all the skills they will need to seek and find that truth. And if they set out to find Truth, I believe with all my heart that they will find Jesus. Lastly, as a home-schooling parent, being a part of CC has helped me to have accountability with like-minded friends. By joining a community, investing myself into friendships and community life, I have found a tribe. It’s the kind of tribe where you pray together, make meals when someone’s sick, encourage each-other, and when necessary, cry together. We’ve sat through countless training sessions on how to teach our children creative writing, how to teach them to write a persuasive essay, etc… but we’ve done it together! Usually with baked goods, and that was fun! We’ve shared links and resources, funny stories, celebrated birthdays, both young and old. We’ve celebrated successes and prayed through struggles together. Having a goal, and a plan to meet that goal, the accountability to keep at it, and knowing I wasn’t alone, are 3 of my biggest blessings of having joined CC. My children would say it’s the friendships and getting to do the hard things together. In the end, it’s unanimous! We LOVE CC!!