5 Steps to Starting a Classical Learning Community

As traumatic and dramatic as our exit from CC was last spring, we have landed on our feet. We took all the things we loved about CC and tweaked the ones we didn’t and started our own community. The even better thing? You can, too. Here’s how:

  1. Gather a like-minded friend or two. This part will either make or break your new venture. Be sure to work with others who you know well, trust, are organized and high-capacity, and agree with your classical education philosophy.
  2. Choose a body of memory work for the grammar kids. We found two that didn’t come with the same strings CC came with–Claritas Press or the Catholic Schoolhouse. We went with Claritas Press. We liked the 4-year history cycle that matched with Story of the World, the extended year (28 weeks), and the addition of Hymn and Scripture memory subjects. In my opinion the Math and Science is stronger than CC’s memory as well.
    Aside: Don’t let the lack of information or formal ordering system deter you from Claritas. They were kind of thrown into curriculum selling and are working on improving their process 🙂 
  3. Arrange your day. We decided to break up the kids into skill level groups instead of age groups. We have a very small community this year so we do everything except Language Arts as a large group. We only have 3 total adults and 1 does nursery so in order to have enough tutors, we have to divide and conquer. Our day still includes time to learn new Grammar and presentations. The notable changes are that all skill levels receive some sort of Language Arts instruction (including spelling), Music is every week, and there is a FULL HOUR for Art or Science (Art on the odd weeks; Science on the evens). The schedule does require all families to stay all day, but the extra instruction and exploration time has totally been worth it.
    bridges schedule
  4. Find a location. Not sure what comes first–chicken or egg. This may need to be your first step depending on your geographic are (or the size of your house ;).  We were able to find a church willing to work with us in a very gracious way. Basically, we’re only paying a small fee for incurred overhead and our insurance.
  5. Spread the word. Word of mouth. Facebook. Flyers (do people still use these?). Local online forums. If you need to cap your numbers based on space, know that ahead of time. You may also decided if you want to be “first come, first serve” or if you want to have an application and selection process. When advertising, make sure you communicate the expectations of families as clearly as possible. Does everyone have to tutor? What is the involvement level?

And, VOILA! You have yourself a community. We’ve completed 2 weeks and we’re all LOVING IT!

If you are schooling classically in community, what has worked for you?

classical learning community

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  1. We are in our first year of CC, but not thru a traditional campus. I was considering joining a new one at my church last year, but they wouldn’t allow me to bring the girl I was babysitting full time. This spring they changed their mind, but I wasn’t interested in the cost (I hv 4 of my own ages 6-11). At the same time I was told about a new classical co-op starting that was made up of a lot of former CC folks who had lost their director. So, they decided to start their own w/o the cost of traditional CC (no paid tutors or directors), and make some changes that they thought would make more sense. My understanding is we are not in violation of any CC copyrights so what we are doing is completely above board.
    All parents buy their own materials. The only money exchanged is for the facility insurance and school supplies.
    The one at my church is run by my associate pastors wife and we don’t discuss this because I think she thinks its illegal or immoral. She has alluded to this.
    Thoughts? Thanks!

    • Candace,
      As long as no one is breaking non-compete clauses in director contracts, and everyone is following the copyright guidelines in the Foundations Guide, you should be okay legally. Perhaps a lawyer friend can review what you’re doing to double check. As far as moral, that’s between you and God. We felt like the only moral thing to do was to leave. We are still friends with CC families and respect their decision. We also try to stick with the facts of what happened and let folks decide how they feel about it.
      Hope that helps!

  2. I know you don’t know me, but I am grateful to have found your blog while I was looking into becoming a director, and decided against it based on what you shined light on. Is there a private, secret Facebook group for CC expats? I love the model and have already purchased much of the Foundation curriculum and supplies, but want to share resources without paying $60 for CCC. Any ideas?

  3. Are you still loving your co-op? Willing to converse about what worked and what didn’t? I am seriously looking at stepping down as a director of CC and starting a classical co-op. I am so frustrated with CC leadership, practicums, our area groups being so competitive, having different rules for different groups, etc. I am in the process of talking to some close friends about starting a new group. I don’t want to hurt CC or take any families from our current group, but I know that it isn’t what God has for me.

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