For those of you unfamiliar with Essentials, it is a complete language arts program. I say complete because that's exactly what it is. We didn't do any grammar or writing prior to this class, and I honestly don't feel like we suffered because of it.
It was truly an enlightening year and we learned so much. My daughter and I sat side by side through the entire 24 weeks and soaked it all in. There were times that we both were learning and then there were times we were both lost but we walked it together and that made it a lot less scary.
WHAT WE LEARNEDGrammar
The class begins with a grammar lesson. During this time grammar skills are taught and applied through a modeled lesson, guided practice and then independent practice.
We also learned to diagram sentences. This is one of those things that is done in baby steps. However, it's more than just diagramming sentences, it's actually analyzing sentences and breaking them apart to decipher its true meaning. Analyzing sentences is a skill that will truly be helpful as they move from learning to read to reading to learn.
I'll be honest with you, I used this skill, of analyzing a sentence, just today while reading the Bible.
My daughter had very basic background in writing. She could write a complete sentence but was unfamiliar with the structure of writing a paragraph. Because the Essentials program differentiates for first year students versus second and third year students, she was able to quickly apply the writing skills that were taught during class without the fear of having to write a long elaborate essay.
As a former teacher, I love IEW. It is well written and teaches the skills necessary for creative writing and informational writing. It also makes the process of writing a research paper more manageable by breaking it down into steps.
WHAT I WISH I HAD KNOWNIt's a 3 Year Process
I use the word process because first year students, although presented the same curriculum, are given a different assignment based on their skill level. They have the option of completing the assignment for the second and third year students but it's not required. I wish I had known this, it probably would have saved me some stress going into this.
Foundation's Grammar is Applied Now
Essentials covers the grammar of all 3 foundation years in 1 year. My daughter had most of the grammar from foundations memorized, so I feel like this made the grammar charts easier. She had a peg to hang the new information on. In retrospect though I wish we had spent more time memorizing it.
THINGS I HAD TO REMEMBERI'm the Teacher
In the classroom there is a tutor presenting the information. It seems like they are the teacher because they are presenting new information to the students. However, I am ultimately the teacher at home. Our tutor did offer to read my daughter's papers and comment but I was the one who graded it.
The manual is written for a general audience but it can't take into account the needs of every child. As the teacher and authority on all things concerning my child, I decided what assignments were relevant. I also decided if the assignment needed to be adjusted to fit the needs of my daughter.
Trust the Process
I feel that having a traditional school background truly is a hindrance when it comes to homeschooling. I've had to erase my programming built in by societies modern belief of how a child should be educated.
Classical Conversations is a method of instruction that builds on itself throughout the Foundation, Essentials and Challenge years. It is designed to allow parents the freedom, in the Foundation years, of only adding a math and a reading curriculum. In the Essentials years, it takes some of the information memorized in the Foundation years and allows the students to apply it through writing and some discussion.
Throughout the year in Essentials, I had to keep reminding myself that this process has been tested and works. I have met young adults that attended Classical Conversations throughout their early years and graduated from it. They are my proof to trust the process.
I'm looking forward to this upcoming year as we delve into Cycle 2 and learn about the Medieval Period in our reading and write about what we learned.
If you are in the Essentials program, are there any ah-ha moments you had?
Hopefully this was helpful to any upcoming Essential families.
I'm praying for each of you!