Combining classical and Christian education may seem odd to some, but parents who home-school their children are benefiting from the combination.
Classical Conversations is a program for home-schooled students in kindergarten through eighth grade that combines classical educational tools with a biblical worldview. Parents and students meet once a week throughout the school year at Grace Bible Church in Killeen. The tutoring program hires and trains parents whose children are in the program and does no hiring from the outside.
“We are equipping parents with the tools they need to be effective classical, Christian educators in their own homes,” said Angi Mattox, director of the Foundations program for grades kindergarten through sixth and the Essentials program for grades fourth through sixth.
She also has children enrolled in Classical Conversations.
“We provide free training for the tutors and directors and a reduction in tuition for their children to attend the program,” Mattox said.
Directors and tutors, who are required to sign a statement of Christian faith, receive more than 40 hours of training each year and monthly Internet seminars.
Differences in programs
The tutoring program differs from a regular home-school cooperative in that parents pay tuition for their children to participate, rather than donating their time, and the program is taught on Christian principles. The Bible is taught in the classroom and students discuss a devotional book every week, said Melodi Woods, director of the Challenge program for seventh- and eighth-graders.
“With the older students, we have theological discussions. We use news and current events to learn about geography and apply a biblical view,” she said. “We have been having a lot of discussion about the current situation in Syria and the religious wars going on in Afghanistan and Iraq. Students learn what’s true and what’s not true and how to respectfully agree or disagree.”
Parents also attend class one day a week. At home, parents review their children’s work and study more about the topics of interest. Families choose a math curriculum and reading program that suits them. With small class sizes of six to eight students, the program meets different learning styles of students.
“I have one child who learns differently than the other two. I started looking into the program for him,” said Jacque McLean of Fort Hood.
“Once I learned how the program worked and that it was hands-on and kids were not just sitting at a desk, I pulled him out of (Fort Hood) schools and enrolled him in Classical Conversations. It is a perfect fit and I have now enrolled my other two sons in the program and am home-schooling them as well.”
The program strives to provide student activities that are difficult to replicate at home.
Students as young as 4 are required to prepare and give weekly presentations, to help establish foundations for high school speech and debate.
Weekly science and fine arts projects also are included, with supplies provided by directors.
Classical Conversations began 15 years ago, but the program is in its second year in Killeen.
Twenty families and 52 students from Nolanville, Belton, Harker Heights, Killeen, Copperas Cove, Fort Hood and Kempner are enrolled.
“Our program has seen tremendous year-over-year growth with a 200 percent increase in enrollment,” Mattox said. “With 52 students, we have more than doubled where we were last year when we started. Now, that’s God at work.”