Help! Need Solutions for School This Fall?
Consider Experiential and Classical Christian Education
by Amy Rickman, Educator
Time is precious! Life with our kids at home will only last so many years. Make each moment count! Our family has focused on home schooling as a lifestyle for 8 years. Experiential learning — learning through real life experiences — along with Classical Christian Education is where this journey has taken us.
Giving our kids meaningful knowledge and life skills is our focus. The key is to allow them to explore their interests along with learning fundamental educational concepts. Our family spends a lot of time outdoors enjoying the beautiful Colorado environment. We love to travel, do projects, go on many field trips, visit museums, and spend time with special friends and family. Reading and listening to lots of books is another favorite past time for us, as is playing games.
If I had to classify my style it would be classical and experiential with a focus on books. My philosophy is:
- Read, read, read
- Make learning a joy
- Experience life, concepts, responsibilities, and places first-hand through trips and real life as much as possible
- Turn anything, any location, and anyone into a learning opportunity
- Increase our faith with various resources while we spend time savoring God’s beautiful world
My goal is for my children to be equipped to understand God’s world. Although we utilize the computer for supplemental support, screens are not our focus.
Emaline and Daniel at Bryce Canyon
If I have the choice between teaching something from a book and going to experience it, I choose the experience to support whatever we are studying. While watching a documentary on Bryce Canyon is interesting, seeing the overwhelming beauty of Bryce Canyon in person can be inspirational. Learning about volcanoes is intriguing, but peering into an active volcano, as we did in Nicaragua, is thrilling!
Meeting ‘History’ Face to Face
Learning history can be fascinating. Talking to someone who lived during a particular time is far more engaging than just reading about it. My husband’s mom, Sarah Byrn Rickman, is the author of 10 books about the women pilots who flew in World War II: the Women Airforce Service Pilots — better known as WASP. Sarah now focuses on writing books about the WASP that are aimed at today’s young women ages 11-15. Her goal is to show that women who lived many years ago had dreams and the determination to do great and unusual things — like fly airplanes — just as young women today want to do great and exciting things. Girls can be whatever they want to be and are willing to work to be, is her message.
Through Sarah, our kids met and developed relationships with some of the WASP. That first-hand experience brought their history and the history of WWII into a whole new perspective. Our son established a special relationship with WASP Millie Young while attending Women in Aviation with Sarah in Reno in 2018. (see photo). Millie, who we lost in 2019, also lived in Colorado Springs.
Millie and Daniel deep in discussion.
CC is a Christian program that lasts 24 weeks. Each CC group meets together one day a week for a community day. Families continue memory work at home for the rest of the week. CC communities are found all over the country and in many locations overseas, especially close to U.S. military installations. My children have attended CC and I have served as a CC tutor for five years.
Overview of the CC Foundations Curriculum:
The CC manual is designed for ages 4-12. All CCs follow the same three-year sequence — 1. Ancient Kingdoms, 2. Medieval, and 3. Modern times. Each class has no more than 8 children with one tutor and at least one parent. Kids usually look forward to community day because the class time is so engaging.
- The morning is divided into 30-minute sessions: Grammar; Fine Arts; Presentations; Hands-on Science; and Review. Math, History, Language and Geography are incorporated into these sessions.
- Students train their mind to retain information.
“CC” Essentials is the program for 9-12-year-olds. It is held in the afternoon following Foundations Curriculum. It consists of
- Grammar: The focus is an in-depth knowledge of grammar.
- Math: The kids play math games to sharpen their mental math skills.
- Writing: The last 45 minutes is spent learning to write and present papers using the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) program. The kids usually work on a paper at home during the week and read the paper in class.
Learning Styles: All learning styles —Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic — are incorporated into every area in Foundations. For more info on CC: https://www.classicalconversations.com/.
Additional Curriculum and Programs
- CC does not provide a full math program. I have used Math-U-See with our kids. https://mathusee.com/. Using short videos, a math teacher explains the content of each lesson then the children do the problems on a worksheet. It works very well.
- Science: https://www.apologia.com/ is a curriculum; https://www.homeschoolsciencecolorado.com/ is a hands on program through which home school children can compete in the science olympiad.
- Spelling: https://www.allaboutlearningpress.com/all-about-spelling/
- Reading/Spelling for Dyslexia: https://bartonreading.com/
- Music: https://pikespeakhomeschoolband.org/musical-programs/. Organized bands and strings programs for homeschooled children.
- Foreign Language: CC does teach basic Latin, but the full Latin program begins when kids begin Challenge at age 12.
- Keyboarding/Typing: typing.com
- Home School Co-ops: https://actshsc.wixsite.com/acts
- Sports (Colorado): https://www.cshsl.org/
Experiential Learning Opportunities:
- Space Foundation
- Science Museums
Field, Day and Road Trips:
- Local/State/National Parks
- Field trips
- Chico Basin Ranch is a working cattle and training ranch. This location also offers a program during bird migrations. An ornithologist catches and identifies birds. http://www.chicobasinranch.net/
- Cripple Creek has a mine tour http://www.goldminetours.com/ and train https://cripplecreekrailroad.com/ that is worth the time.
- Littleton Museum: https://littletongov.org/city-services/city-departments/museum
- Denver Science has free days: https://www.dmns.org/
- Colorado Wolf Center: https://www.wolfeducation.org/
- Denver Aquarium has home school days with special programs: https://www.aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumdenver/default.asp
- WWII Museum: This place has educational programs that home schoolers can attend. Their collection of aircraft is impressive. Volunteers restore aircraft at this location. https://www.worldwariiaviation.org/
- The USAFA was showing freeing IMAX movies to the public. School programs are offered for free at their Planetarium with a local astronomer. The USAFA has a free museum and tour of the campus. https://www.usafa.edu/academics/facilities/planetarium/
- The Old Town Museum in Burlington was worth the drive: https://www.oldtownburlington.com/
- Rock Ledge Ranch is another favorite in the summer when living characters are in the different locations showing history from Native Americans to the 1800s. https://rockledgeranch.com/
- Denver History Museum: https://www.historycolorado.org/history-colorado-center
- Peterson AFB offers a program called Starbase that is geared towards fifth graders and is science focused. Home schoolers can join with other school programs. Starbase also offers summer day camps. https://dodstarbase.org/
Civil Air Patrol (CAP)
CAP provides aviation and science resources to educators. For around $35 per year, an educator is given a free flight on a small aircraft and access to free educational kits and resources. We received a full flight simulator from CAP that has been a highlight in our home. I also used the materials provided and the flight simulator to teach an aviation class for our co-op. https://www.gocivilairpatrol.com/
Amy was delighted to get a flight in a small plane.
- Young Eagles — EAA (the Experimental Aircraft Association) — provides free introductory air flights for children 8 and up. https://www.eaa.org/eaa/youth/free-ye-flights/eaa-flight-plan/eaa-student-membership-step-2-of-eaa-flight-plan
- Five in Row is the primary curriculum I used for the first few years when my children were younger. https://fiveinarow.com/
- Lapbooking or Notebooking is project-based learning that is put into a folder. https://heartandsoulhomeschooling.com/list-of-free-lapbooks-for-every-subject/
- Sally Clarkson is a local author with numerous, helpful resources, https://wholeheart.org/
- Home School Legal Defense Association (HSDLA): This is a good option to assist in navigating legal issues that relate to home schooling. Our family is a member of HSLDA. https://hslda.org/
PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO YOUR FRIENDS WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED.
From Sarah: Thank you for reading my daughter-in-law’s Guest Blog. I hope it is helpful to parents looking for alternative ways of schooling in these trying times.