Lessons on Joining a New Community Midyear

With the new year upon us, have you found yourself wanting to try something new, something different? Maybe the last few years have left you considering another option for your child's education. Are you feeling God nudging you into potentially… homeschooling?

How to Start Homeschooling Midyear in a New Community

Often, the new year has us reevaluating our priorities and considering doing things we may not have thought about before. In a leap of faith, you may have decided to homeschool your child, and midyear at that. What timing! You have timidly—or eagerly—started looking at ways to homeschool your child and have stumbled upon Classical Conversations and are ready to find out more.

It can feel overwhelming to start something new, especially in the middle of the schoolyear. You might think that your family will fall behind or that you have no idea what to do or who you can turn to. Luckily, we have you covered. We have had many families start homeschooling midyear or even midsemester with Classical Conversations. Hopefully the insights gained through helping them with a smooth transition will help you as well!

Begin Where You Are

Are you worried that there is too much information and that you will never catch up? In my experience, the sentiment given the most is, “But we’ll be so behind!” The homeschooling parents in my own community have one response to this ever-present feeling: “Behind who?”

One of the best pieces of advice I can give is to begin where you are. This isn’t a race; you don’t have to “catch up.” What I love about homeschooling—especially with the Classical Conversations curriculum—is how easy it is to tailor your student’s schoolwork. The point of homeschooling is to meet your child where they are and to adjust your learning to their needs. The beauty of Classical Conversations is that it meets you—your child's best teacher—where you are at as well.

Let’s Get Practical

You might be thinking, “Great, but let’s get practical. What does that even look like?” Well, let me illustrate with some examples from families I know who have started homeschooling midyear or midsemester with Classical Conversations.

If your student is currently in or joining the Classical Conversations Foundations program, it is very easy to join a new community midyear. Once you are in a program and see the curriculum being modeled, you can simply just start on the same week as your community. If you are joining your community at Week 12, just begin with the memory work for Week 12. One thing I love about Foundations is that your student will also review previous weeks' memory work along with the new memory work. They will catch on to what was learned before your family joined with ease.

What if you are joining Essentials? Well, when it comes to the writing portion of the Essentials program, some new families start with the unit the rest of the class is on but choose to tailor the writing to just one paragraph or introduce easy dress ups only. Instead of writing one paper a week, your student can write one paper per unit until they warm up. With the grammar portion of Essentials, just start where the rest of the community is at and rest easy knowing you will see all of this information again the following year. This semester can simply serve as an introduction to a new program where all the pieces will fall into place later.

What about older students joining a Challenge community midyear? After all, Challenge is a different beast. That's true, but the same concepts apply and it really is not difficult at all to tailor the Challenge program. For subjects like Latin, you can focus on vocabulary, noun declension or verb conjugation endings, or start at the beginning of the Henle books and slowly work your way through. If you are concerned about the Exposition strand, start with the book the community is currently reading and go back to Lesson 1 in The Lost Tools of Writing. If writing a new essay every three weeks is too overwhelming, have your student build on the same essay as they work through the lessons while continuing to read the other books so they can take part in the community discussions.

These are just some practical actions families have taken when joining a community midyear. Of course, if you have an eager student, let them jump in with both feet! If you need to, you can always scale back if needed after they begin.

Focus on the Basics

The best thing for you as the parent-teacher to do is to focus on the "grammar"—or basics—of each program before diving deep. In other words, start small and pick up the pace as the weeks progress. One thing I have found over the years with my own children is that they constantly exceed my expectations, that my worries are not theirs, and that they end up doing just fine no matter what.

At the end of the day, exposure is key. Classical education is an incredibly intuitive method. And since each year with Classical Conversations builds upon the next, your student will likely see some or most of the information they learn this semester again. My favorite thing to share with others on this journey is to remember the point of all of this. My Area Representative says this all the time, "God first, then character, skills, and finally subjects." Each one supports the goal above it, ultimately glorifying God in all we do. So, don’t sweat the big stuff, focus on the small things you can do to make this work for you and your student. One phrase you will hear many times in a Classical Conversations community is “easy plus one.” Take it to the bare bones, keep it simple, and add in more work as you and your student become comfortable.

Find Support in Your Community

One of the biggest draws of Classical Conversations for so many people, including myself, is the community. Community means having someone to count on. Part of what I love about being in a Christian community is the support from other parents welcoming you with open arms and genuinely wanting to help.

Almost every Classical Conversations community has parents with a vast array of homeschooling experience. I always try to encourage families in the communities I support to lean on those who have gone before you. I think of Naomi and Ruth, and the woman in Titus 2. We can join together using one another's gifts and graces to lift each other up. I think of 1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

So, who can you lean on for help? The Licensed Director of the community you are joining is a great resource. Your Director is likely the first person to speak with you about joining a community, so they will understand your needs and be able to walk you through this journey. Your Director can also connect you with another parent who has been in your shoes. Another resource would be your child’s Tutor. Watch how they lead students in community and model that at home. Also, get involved in community and step in to help your student's Tutor. The more involved you are in community, the more you learn as a parent.

Being part of a community means you never have to homeschool alone. God calls us to community. In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, it is very clear the Lord desires us to live in community with others. In six years of homeschooling with Classical Conversations, my family and I have moved a few times and have been part of three different communities. Each of these communities have offered consistency, accountability, friendship, a soft place to land in a new city, and others who know just what we are going through. Your community will build you up. They will guide you. They will answer your questions. So often, this community becomes like family.

It's Never too Late to Start Homeschooling!

If the one thing you and your child gain from joining a Classical Conversations program midyear is making new friends and finding your people, consider this schoolyear a success. However, I am certain your family will end the year with a lot of knowledge, skills, and character-building you didn’t expect. The good news is that it is never too late to start homeschooling midyear by joining a new community!

Want to learn more about how to start homeschooling midyear by joining a new community? We'd love to hear from you. To reach out to a local Licensed Director by searching a community in your area, click here.

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