For those of you who are avid followers of my Facebook page, I owe you a HUGE apology! I promised 10 days ago that I would have this post up on the blog. Upon just completing the busiest 10 days of my life (2 sons’ birthdays, a birthday party for both, hosting 45 family members for a family reunion, and getting ready to depart for a mission trip), time vanished before my eyes! Please forgive me, friends! This is SUCH a great post (thank you, Julie!), so I hope you’ll find it was worth the wait! :)
One of the greatest joys from this blog is getting to know other amazing women across the country and around the world! I am so blessed to have “met” Julie Largent (via the internet only, sadly! Hoping we can meet in person in the future!). She and I instantly connected as we are both married to church planters and are Classical Conversations moms! Our family will be starting the Essentials Program with Classical Conversations this fall. Julie is a veteran Essentials tutor and parent, so I asked her if she would do a Q&A with me regarding preparing for Essentials, an “Essentials-for-Newbies,” if you will. She graciously agreed! Today, Julie answers 4 questions to help us gear up for Essentials. Join us tomorrow as we will finish up with 4 final questions.
1) At the first Classical Conversations Practicum that I attended, an Essentials tutor conducted an Essentials demonstration. At the conclusion of the demo, she said, “If I can just get the parents to not freak out in front of their kids (The children aren’t freaking out; it’s the parents!) and make it through the first six weeks of Essentials, all will go well.” What advice would you give new Essentials parents to talk themselves off the ledge those first six weeks of Essentials? How can parents (and children) thrive, not simply survive, those pivotal first 6 weeks?
So true! Except I feel it’s more like the first 3 weeks. I love how Leigh puts it; this is a 3 year tour. You are not meant to grasp it all in one year. Also, the first 2-3 weeks we are showing the entire massive puzzle of the program. Then, we take it apart and rebuild it piece by piece. It’s kind of like putting your mouth around a fire hydrant and trying to drink. Just remind the parents to stick with it; it does slow down. I would encourage the parents to read the lessons each week with your student. Explain to the parents to not to get discouraged, but do their best. It does pay off!
2) What would you recommend as “summer reading” for new Essentials parents from the Essentials of the English Language (ELL) guide and Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) guide in order to get their Essentials year off on the right foot?
Become extremely familiar with the EEL guide. Read, highlight, underline, take notes or whatever you need to on pages 3-23 of the EEL guide. If you feel your student would understand some of it, I would have them also read it, or you can simply read it together. Talk with your Essentials Tutor or other Essentials moms on how to organize your binder. There will still be a learning curve, but this will help start off well.
For IEW, I would say organize your SRN (Student Resource Notebook) with tabs in order to make it easy to find things. Become familiar with the teacher’s guide as well. I just received my ‘new’ IEW books for cycle 3, and I anticipate looking over them. The format is just slightly different than the previous years’ books, so even experienced moms might want to familiarize themselves with it. Read up on suggestions on how to organize your time through the week for each assignment.
3) What are your “must have” resources for at-home use with the Essentials program?
Must haves: EEL guide (Essentials of the English Language), dry erase markers, a spiral notebook, pens (Andrew Pudewa strongly encourages only the use of pens:), TWSS notebook (Teaching Writing Structure and Style), dry erase board, SRN, IEW Student book, the EEL tri-fold, and a synonym finder and thesaurus.
4) What does a typical day look like at home for completing Essentials homework?
If you read in the EEL guide, Leigh gives an example of what a typical day may look like (p. 19-22 of EEL guide). This depends largely on the student and where they are on this journey. For 1st year students, it may work well to set a timer for 15 minutes and stop wherever you are; start there again the next day. Another option is to copy 1/2 of the chart or every word that is in bold or in a box or everything except what’s in italics or everything including italics. For 2nd and 3rd year students, they may be able to whip through some of these charts quickly! If your student struggles with handwriting or it exhausts them, have them dictate it to you sometimes. You scale it to what fits your student. This is just one of many options of how to schedule your day at home. It may take several weeks to get in a routine and find what works best. Then, I say work on a sentence a day and do the assigned number of tasks listed in your weekly lesson in your EEL guide. It may take your 15-20 at the beginning of the year and longer towards the end. Again, this will depend greatly on where your student is and what they are ready for. IEW may look differently each week depending on the assignment. We would spend about 30-45 a day on IEW after the first few weeks.
Thank you, Julie, for sharing your wisdom with us! Join us back tomorrow as Julie answers four additional questions to help us prepare for Essentials!
Julie Largent lives north of Philadelphia with her husband and 4 kiddos. If you’re in the area, checkout their church plant! Find Julie on Twitter: @j_largent