As my boys approached ten and twelve years of age, I found myself floundering with their education as we had known it at home. We had spent many years reading beautiful books aloud together, going for walks and exploring nature, maths, reading and writing. During this time, God had blessed our family with three lovely girls, and home education had been achieved in the midst of real life with all of its beauties and struggles. Seeing the boys move into quite a different time of their development and growth, I felt that they needed to be challenged and stretched and I wasn’t sure how to achieve this. I prayed, asking God for His answer for this next step of our home educating journey. His answer was unexpected. Through various circumstances, I found out more about a group called Classical Conversations. Now I had been in homeschool groups before and always found them to be exhausting. I had read about the classical method of education before, and had thought it to be, well, exhausting! However, for the sake of my boys, I felt I needed to join a community and at least try it. I fully expected to find it overwhelming and unsustainable in the long term. I expected that the work required at home might lead to burn out on my part and therefore might turn out to be detrimental for us all. As it turns out, my fears were unsubstantiated, and I could not have been more wrong. From the first day, we were all wonderfully hooked. The things that we learnt on that first day felt like a revelation. Like someone had opened up the world and allowed us to take a peek. We had memorised facts from history, science, maths, geography, English, Latin and the Bible. We sang our newly acquired and much-loved songs all the way home! And we were very eager to return the following week. That was four years ago now, and the love and wonder that we have for the classical method of learning have only grown deeper and stronger. However, aside from this satisfying tapestry of truth and knowledge, as each part weaves in so beautifully with another, has been the grace and fellowship of our dear community.
An excerpt from the Classical Conversations Essentials Guide says this: “What was God thinking when He created the amazing blessing of friendship? He knew we needed one another! Friendships and camaraderie provide much-needed companionship and accountability and help us to encourage one another through the joys and struggles of this season of our lives.” When we began CC, I honestly hadn’t considered how much I needed this. It was a lovely and unexpected blessing. I am thinking now of the dear friends that my children and I have made through this community. Of the times we have prayed together, literally put our heads together as we have pondered a new idea, shared difficulties, encouraged one another, cheered each other’s children on. Being in a Classical Conversations community has meant having sisters in Christ to share this road of raising and educating our children. It has meant receiving flowers from a friend after a rough week. It has meant books being lent, recipes being shared and fragrant coffee (with cream!) being made for a weary tutor on community day. It has meant sharing our lives in all of our messes and triumphs, to the glory of God. As we have finished each CC year, it has also meant wonderful celebrations to mark months of satisfying hard work, friendships deepened and seeing the Spirit of God work amongst us, bringing us through another CC cycle, and having done far more than we could have asked or imagined.
So after much hesitation and misgivings at the beginning of this truly surprising journey, I am now so very thankful for our community and the privilege is it to search out truth in every part of our children’s education. For being able to seek the goodness and grandeur of God in every subject and to see how it all connects in His created universe. If anyone is wondering about joining or starting a community, I would encourage them to grab it with both hands! We all need friends for the journey. Some might be attracted to the beauty of the classical method (and it is beautiful), but community is the unexpected icing on the cake. To God be the glory.