... a great education starts with a firm foundation.
Children along with one of their parents meet together with a parent-tutor to learn the first skill of learning: how to memorize anything in a fun and engaging atmosphere. Students in this program lay a firm foundation in history, science, languages, arithmetic, and geography.
(Ages 4 to 11 meet weekly for 24 weeks in the mornings.)
Once a week at 9:15 in the morning, children stream eagerly into the church building with their siblings and one or both of their parents. They hide presentations in their backpacks. They are excited to learn something new with their friends.
Families take turns opening with prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance, and a family presentation. Directors lead scripture memory work recitation and make announcements.
Each class is made up of eight students in approximately the same age group and is led by a trained parent tutor. Students and parents attend this class together. From 9:30 to noon, the tutor leads the class in five thirty-minute segments that cover new memory work, a science project, a fine arts activity, public speaking, and memory work review time.
Tutors of different age groups all cover the same memory work, but they may choose different ways to present the material based on the ages of the students. For example, in geography all the classes practice the same five European countries on one week. The youngest classes might place candies on each country as the tutor says them aloud. The older children may trace the countries with a dry erase marker, and the advanced students may trace or draw the countries on paper.
The order of the segments may vary from class to class, but the tutor will cover each of the following five components every week:
5 Weekly Foundations Components
New Memory Work
Each week the Foundations tutor introduces interesting facts from seven subject areas: the timeline, history, Latin, science, English grammar, geography, and math. These facts have been chosen from the Classical Conversations high school curriculum to help students build a firm foundation for a rigorous study of these subjects later. The tutor demonstrates a variety of study skills as he or she introduces the information. The class may sing, shout, use hand motions, draw, or play games in order to remember the information.
A half-hour segment is spent completing a science project or experiment together. A variety of interesting projects, activities, and demonstrations have been chosen to give students a hands-on experience with science. Students are exposed to the scientific method and learn some basic science concepts that serve to inspire a love of science and to prepare them for the more advanced science projects and ideas they will encounter in high school. Students enjoy doing science with their friends and parents appreciate the help with lab supplies and clean up.
Fine Arts Activity
There are four segments of fine arts in Foundations: drawing, tin whistle, famous artist painting and drawing, and orchestra/classical music. Students spend six weeks on each topic. Students engage in activities that introduce them to art techniques and music theory, as well as history and famous composers and artists. These activities inspire students to want to learn more!
Students take about three minutes of class to stand up and give a short presentation. For younger students, this is similar to show-and-tell. As the students get older and learn about eye contact, hand gestures, and other public speaking basics, their presentations become more formal. Students who practice public speaking in a comfortable, supportive atmosphere never learn to be afraid of public speaking and have a good foundation for their high school years when they will have the opportunity to participate in debate and eventually lead seminars themselves.
Memory Work Review
Students know this part of class as "game time." The tutor leads student in playing review games that cover memory work they learned previously. They may get to move around, use a game board, toss bean bags, or other fun activity geared toward having fun reviewing material. Students learn that memorizing large amounts of information is not impossible, but it is really just repetition over time, and it can be fun.
Parents go to class with a different child each week, or they go with the child who needs them most.
Parents buy the Foundations Guide, which lays out weekly memory work and activities. CDs and flashcards are also available to purchase if parents would like to use them at home. Only one guide is needed per family for all three cycles and any number of children.
At home, parents and students practice reciting the memory work that was introduced in the Foundations seminar. They use techniques demonstrated in class, sing along with the Memory Work CD, or use one of our online tutorials or iPad/iPod apps.
The Foundations program provides all the science, geography, Latin, history, and English grammar necessary for this age group. Parents choose their own phonics and reading curriculum and their own math curriculum to use at home, as these subjects are best taught one-on-one. Parents and students also read more about the science and history topics at home together.
Foundations programs can meet any day of the week. Click here to see what is available in your area.
New programs are formed every year. Contact the support manager nearest you to find out more about how to start a program.
In a classical education, students first memorize the vocabulary of a subject. The Foundations program teaches students how to memorize anything, giving them the tools necessary for future learning. The material selected for memory practice is from the Challenge program, so that students go into a formal study of a subject already knowing the basic grammar for that subject. For example, when Challenge students begin to read their physical science textbooks or to study American history, they understand the material easily because they have already memorized many of the important terms, names, and dates.
No, students can start Foundations at any cycle. All Classical Conversations campuses offer the same cycle on the same year.
Yes, students who begin Foundations around age six will get to do each cycle twice. This ensures that the memory work is firmly planted in their long-term memory. The second time through a cycle allows students to learn about each topic in more depth at home and to read more advanced books on the topics they’re studying.
Some families find that Foundations is a good match for children with special needs because the parent can be with them and assist them as needed. If your child has special needs, talk to your support manager, director, or tutor and visit a Foundations program to see if you think it would be a good fit for your child.