In homeschooling news, I lasted all of three weeks as a CC Essentials tutor. Long story short: too much prep and too little intuitiveness. A language program designed by engineering types didn't mesh with me at all, though my eleven year-old daughter, whose memory and technical thinking surpasses mine, was mastering it. So we're back to Writing with Skill and Rod & Staff grammar. Because I had signed the younger two up for a geometry art class during the first half of the Essentials time, I'm now using that hour to do logic with my oldest, which we both enjoy immensely - it comes pretty naturally to her and it's enlightening, as well as stimulating, to me. We also seem to laugh a lot. As for the Essentials class (all of two students), our CC director decided to take over teaching it.
Foundations is going well - the kids like it and I really don't have to do much, since it's just a supplement to our curriculum. They learn most of the memory work in class, and then review with the CD and tri-fold board on their own during the week. One thing that bugs me (okay, there are several) is that they use classical Latin rather than ecclesiastical, which is what Memoria Press uses, our Latin program for the past four years. I cringe whenever they say "muss" and "tiss" instead of "moose" and "teese". Another concern is that as the history sentences increase (we're up to five facts), some of the students are starting to jumble up the ones that sound alike, so names and dates are mismatched because of certain prepositional phrases at the beginning or in the middle of the sentence. I noticed this as I quizzed them at the end of class time (parents help the tutors as needed throughout class time - I rotate being in each of my three kids' classes). I'm hoping that with correction and repetition, this will iron itself out, but part of me thinks that this is the natural outcome of memorizing information without meaning/context. That was a hard pill for me to swallow initially, but I convinced myself that because we are going through the Story of the World (and have already done one complete four year cycle with my oldest), it would be okay. I'm trying to stay convinced of what hooked me - that going ahead in history is putting in the pegs upon which we will hang more knowledge in the future...but part of me worries...
This year is definitely an experiment - it's our first time not doing our homeschool group's co-op (we did it for the past three years since its inception, which was a grassroots effort), but they have adopted a programmed approach this year as well - doing the Odyssey of the Mind competition. I had already signed up for CC when I found out about that - I knew we couldn't do both and I wanted to stick with what seemed a better fit with our educational philosophy. The kids don't seem to care what the format is, as long as they get to be in a group learning setting once a week. Sometimes I think it would be better for us not to do any co-op (and in fact, Susan Wise Bauer said at the convention I attended last year that she doesn't recommend them), but hands-on stuff and memorization are some of my weaker areas, and CC covers those with a creative approach - songs and hand motions for the memory work (I would never do it that way), as well as science experiments and fine arts, but it's all pretty abbreviated, since it's only a three hour block of time, which also includes presentations and a few other elements. I like the variety and that they get to be with other kids, but I'm not sure yet about the content's enrichment value - hoping that will be clear by the end of the school year.
I'm on the fence about Challenge, which initially was what drew me to CC, but after reading more about it on the The Well Trained Mind forum, as well as seeing the curriculum on the CC site, I'm not sure it would be the best for my oldest. Ironically, it doesn't look challenging enough - she's definitely already ahead in Latin and literature, nor do I like the idea of abandoning the history and science cycles...it really would force me to choose between that and the WTM way. The monetary and time investment (it basically has to be your whole curriculum) is questionable to me...then again, it might be a good way to transition her into more independence during the middle school years (even if we didn't stay with it for high school), thus making less work for me, so I could focus more on our younger ones. We'll have to see...