The Essentials of English Language is offered at most Classical Conversations® Communities. It is generally understood by most parents, to be a preparation for their Challenge Program later on. However, I don't know how well understood the Foundations Program is, as a preparation for Essentials. Personally, before doing anything, I always need to see the big picture, and then hone in on the details afterward. That's just how my brain is wired. I have talked to a lot of people doing Foundations over the past six years, and it appears many don't see a "game plan" to prepare for Essentials. Phrases like "drinking from a fire hose" are usually a part of a conversation about the first year in Essentials. However, I really don't think it needs to be that way, if you are able to see a "game plan" while you are in Foundations. I hope my visuals and insights below, bless someone who is struggling, or wondering what is the point to all that seemingly "random" grammar memory work and gives them the "big picture" as I see it. So here it is...
*This is my personal opinion and experience after having spent five years doing CC, for whatever it's worth. :)*
Seeing the Big Picture
But Three Years???
Having covered material, is very different then truly knowing material and being able to use it. One of the key ways to retain information in long term memory, is through repetition. In addition, our brains can only take in so much information at one time. Essentials moves quickly, and there is a lot of information presented each week. The first year your child will master some material, but definitely not most of the information presented. The second year it's all familiar and repeated, so a much greater amount of material will be mastered. The brain is seeing review of things they've mastered, and able to hone in on things that are familiar from the previous year, but not yet mastered. I would say if you have a very strong student, then two years may be enough. You as the Parent will need to decide what is best for your student. However, for most kids, the full three years would serve them best for future studies -such as Latin. The third year, it should be mastery of the majority, if not all concepts presented. A layered approach to learning, requires repeated exposure to concepts, and working with those concepts numerous times. Expecting your child to cover all the material that is presented their first year in Essentials, is expecting a LOT out of your kid and yourself! It's a sure way to burn out and drop out.
How to Have a Successful First Year Student
There are a few things based on my own personal experience, that I would suggest new Essentials' parents keep in mind when starting:
- This is meant to be a three year program. Don't try to do it all in one year!
- Give your child grace. Do what you can and don't worry about the rest, for your child's first year. Really...It's OK! If all your child can handle is task one, then do just that much. Period. Keep it low stress. Creating conflict with your child over unrealistic expectations of completing the entire week's material your first year, will be a recipe for frustration, for both of you. The program is meant to be layered learning.
- Set realistic goals for the first year - don't feel the pressure to follow exactly what the Tutors suggestions are for weekly homework. The Tutor is probably suggesting homework for all levels of students from first to third year students. You as the Teacher, need trim down the program to what is realistic for your own child. If your child is struggling with Chart A, then don't move on and feel pressure to memorize any other charts the first year. Let them listen in class and then continue to work at home on Chart A. Do what they can and keep in mind, the first year is exposure and the second year will be that much easier, so don't sweat it. Again, it's a layered learning approach.
- Give yourself grace too! Don't feel like you as the Mom, have to read the entire EEL book and pre-watch all those videos the first year! Let's face it, the EEL book is intimidating. There is a LOT of information. Remember you are as much the student in Essentials as your child is. Give yourself a year to soak it all in. Don't overwhelm yourself. Spend the first year listening in class and doing whatever you feel you can handle. The second year, you too, will have an increased capacity for taking on more and understanding how the program works better, once you've got a year under your belt.
Two Simple Suggestions
- Make a separate spiral bound notebook of the Gear section of your EEL book, for your child to bring to class. (You can do this at Staples or any office supply store.) This will give them a quick way to see all the charts and information that they will need to access for class. This will help it feel more manageable, and not overwhelm your child with that intimidating notebook!
- Use the songs that they learned in their Foundations Grammar, this will help them carry over what they learned. If you want songs that are related to the various grammar concepts covered in Essentials, you can go to my Essentials Youtube channel and check out plenty I have pinned there.
So, you can see that there is plenty of wiggle room to let your student grow into the grammar. In addition, there will be opportunities to touch on concepts and put them into further practice, when they are doing their IEW assignments. IEW is a post for another day though. :)
I hope this "game plan" helps someone who is curious about EEL for their coming year, or someone who is new to CC and is a planner looking ahead. Perhaps, you are someone who may be struggling this year and needing to hear that it's OK to not get this first year perfect, or do it all...or even most of it. It will be OK - you have two more years, relax. Next year will be that much better, and you won't believe how much more you will be able to handle.
If you are a year or two away from Essentials, or you just want some things to begin to do for the summer, before beginning Essentials, then I would suggest you read my post entitled Fun Ways to Jump Start for Essentials.
Thank you. Needed to read this today!ReplyDelete
Lizanne - So thankful that it blessed you today. Thank you for stopping by and reading! Blessings - ColleenDelete
Always great reminders! Thanks! Mary HendersonReplyDelete
Thank you for reading Mary. I appreciate your stopping by. Blessings - ColleenDelete
This is great advice for succeeding with Classical Conversations! I always wondered if you were expected to master all the memorization the first year, or to master it over the 3 years of the cycle. :-)ReplyDelete
Thank you Sara! I appreciate the comment and I'm glad that it helped clarify things for you! Blessings - ColleenDelete
Thank you!! As a 2nd year Foundations parent, I had wondered how it all fit together. However, after talking to some Essentials parents, I am beginning to understand how Foundations work is used in Essentials. I hadn't considered putting it all into print though, so THANK YOU for the chart! I've already saved it to my hard drive and will print it out when we hit Essentials in about 3 years! :)ReplyDelete
Missy - Thank you for letting me know how this helped you. It really is important to see the "big picture" to a curriculum that layers learning like CC does. So glad you are finding the chart beneficial! Have a super end to the school year! Blessings - ColleenDelete
Thank you so much- I am so thankful that I stumbled upon your site! We are just starting CC this year, and will be a 4th grade Foundations/Essentials student. Feeling very overwhelmed about the whole thing!ReplyDelete
You are welcome. It's not bad if you shift your paradigm and get what you can and leave the rest until the next year! :) Blessings - ColleenDelete
Our first year, with 3, I have all three doing Foundations and my eleven year old doing Essentials as well! I have a question, how do I make spiral notebook you mentioned earlier?ReplyDelete
I am in need of much help, I am trying to not become overwhlemd. What other supplies should I really invest in?
Hello, I am stepping out in faith, not FEAR!! lol.. I am trying CC for 3, ages 11 8 & 6. I have all three doing Foundations and oldest doing Essentials. I am def interested in purchasing lesson plan, is it hard copy or just for computer> Also i am wanting to get spiral notebook made, how and where do i get this? Do you sell them?ReplyDelete
Is there anymore helpful materials I should purchase or have made to make year more successful? Thanks so much!!
Hi Chazzie - I had my local supply store print and spiral bind the Gear section of the EEL Guide. It's less than $10. Regarding the Teaching Plan, it is a download and then you click on the various links to take you to a variety of activities and information to enrich your memory work. My advice is to just not stress and do what you can and don't worry with the rest. Your children will pick it up over the years of English Grammar - they don't need to know it all Year 1. You may want to read this post on my perspective of starting Essentials http://www.solagratiamom.com/2014/09/thoughts-on-essentialsiew-from-first.htmlDelete
Thank you for sharing your Foundations grammar-Essentials match-up. I have 2 children in Ess, one is 2nd yr and the other is 1st yr. Last year, my daughter and I were so overwhelmed we both mentally dropped out of the EEL part of class. This year I'm forcing myself to get a better understanding and I'm trying to help new moms not feel as lost as I did. We started Foundations and Essentials the same year and didn't have the grammar background so I'm trying to make sure we get a handle on those definitions as we go. Thanks!ReplyDelete
Oh, I meant to ask: what are the Teacher Sheets you refer to in Year 2 of your pyramid chart? And I somehow missed information on the Teaching Plan you mention in previous comment; what is that? Thanks!ReplyDelete