We have been a part of a Classical Conversations community in Foundations for 3 years, but this coming fall will be our first year in Essentials. I’m excited for this upcoming journey, but also a bit nervous. I decided to meet a good friend and Essentials tutor Julie at a local coffee shop and ask her lots of questions.
If you are new to this Essentials journey, I think you might appreciate some of what I learned.
To me, the biggest question was what should I be doing to get Elijah ready for Essentials. In my mind, I wondered, “Should Elijah be reviewing the last three years of English memory work? Should we be studying ahead?” I was so encouraged by my friend’s answer. Julie said, “Nothing. You don’t need to do anything.”
I’m not sure why I forgot the purpose of our Classical Conversations community. The Essentials tutor is going to equip me with what I need for us to continue learning at home. Phew! This class is really for ME (as the parent). I don’t need to know everything that is coming or how everything will work. I just need to trust the process and learn along side my son. I’m so thankful for my friend coming along side me even in the summer to remind me of what we are undertaking.
Over the course of our two-hour multi-topic conversation, I did learn a bit in about the format of Essentials and what we’ll be working on at home.
As we talked, I started to get confused. Julie talked about EEL, IEW, and what both of those looked like at home.
Did the acronyms throw you for a loop? They did for me a first too, but I think I got a bit of a handle on them now.
EEL is the grammar portion of the class using the Essentials of the English Language guide. Mine is put into a big binder, and it is filled with information that will be taught each week. The EEL portion includes the grammar charts Elijah will copy and memorize and the sentences we’ll diagram. There is even optional editing practice and spelling in there. From what my friend shared, this part can be overwhelming the first few weeks. When I’m two weeks into Essentials and feeling overwhelmed, I hope I can remember her encouragement. I need to keep reminding myself that this is a 3-year program, and I’m only in my first year. It’s okay if we don’t get it all the first time around.
IEW is the writing portion of the class (Institute for Excellence in Writing). I don’t know what our weekly assignments will be, but I know the tutor will give them to us. I like that Classical Conversation and IEW have worked together on the book we will be using (Teaching Writing: Structure and Style). I also appreciate what my friend said about wanting to give “maximum encouragement” and “minimum correction” in reading papers. This is the part of the class that she said will pick up slowly.
I know there is also a part of Essentials class practicing math skills through games and drills, but we never even got around to it in our discussion.
For our at-home time, I am planning on about 1 hour a day. EEL portion will have similar work at home each week: copying charts, sentences with tasks (built-in dictation, yes!), editing, and spelling if we choose. She also explained that assignments will be given out for the IEW portion each week. I’m hoping that this one hour a day will work well for us.
What am I going to do to get ready for Essentials?
Well, I’m not going to have Elijah do anything, but I am reading my Essentials guide. I also plan to attend a parent night and read through the first week’s lesson prior to class.
I just read through the Introduction of the EEL guide and loved the comparison of Essentials to an expedition. I had already been thinking about this as our journey, and it was nice to see the same sentiments in the EEL book.
Some quotes and features from the EEL book that stood out to me:
- “The goal of the first tour will be to master the grammar work.”
- “Think of Tour One as a cursory overview and introduction to the grammar of language and its structure”
- I appreciated “this week at a glance” at the beginning of each lesson so that I could quickly know the focus of the week.
- There is a little note to the parent at the end of each week’s lesson including words of encouragement in the form of Bible passages.
I’ve been telling Elijah all summer that I’m excited for the start of Essentials. I keep explaining to him that we are going to learn along together. I know it’s easy for me to get nervous about the unknown, but I don’t want this to rub off on my son. Instead, I presented this as something fun to learn. I have loved CC so far and am really looking forward to starting on our Essentials journey.
(After we finished our first year of Essentials, you can read my reflections here.)
By the way, if you want to read more of what my friend Julie has written, she has shared a few times at Classical Conversations At Home. She shared some great homeschool encouragement in a post called a day in the life of her family. She also recently wrote about what she would have done differently with Challenge A.