What: Three-day conference hosted by Classical Conversations (and student camp)
When: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 20-22
Where: Faith Lutheran Church, 4150 Goodlette-Frank Road in Naples
Contact: For more information, visit www.classicalconversations.com or call Jennifer LeMay at 239-253-2439.
For some homeschoolers, a hefty dose of Christianity in their lessons is a welcomed addition, something their parents embrace openly.
To aid these parents, Classical Conversations (CC) is hosting a three-day conference in Naples that focuses on ancient classical teaching methods and Christianity.
CC is a nationwide homeschool Christian international program with more than 900 communities that meets once a week to help parents and children embrace a Christian classical education, and is expanding in the Naples area. For the first time, organizers will facilitate the three-day practicum, held June 20-23 at Faith Lutheran Church in Naples, for parents interested in receiving training in this ancient pedagogic method, using the trivium model.
One local CC community director, Jennifer LeMay of Naples, said the goal of the conference is to train parents in this three-part educational model that focuses on the stages of learning using grammar, dialect and rhetoric, in that order, so that parents can then teach various subjects to their homeschoolers aged kindergarten through 11th grade.
"The goal is for parents to develop our children into articulate and eloquent communicators, ambassadors, using these lost tools of education, so the children grow with the ability to discuss a wide range of ideas including literature, current events, politics and philosophy," said LeMay, who has two children in the program.
Michele Botwright, of Naples, is the mother of four young children she is homeschooling, and will attend the conference for tutor training.
"Two years ago, I was a parent in the CC classroom, and now I am starting this year as the director of one of the Naples communities," said Botwright. "It's an amazing way to help my children become intelligent leaders and teach them that God is the center of all things."
Morning speakers at the conference will facilitate the relationship between Latin and history, while presenting practical tools for giving children a classical education at home. In the afternoons during the three-day event, facilitators will discuss homeschool challenges and topics such as Latin, language, credits and vision.
The conference will also offer tutor training for parents who have already been involved in the program as teachers.
One requirement of CC: a parent or guardian must participate in the CC educational setting one day each week while the group meets for 24 or 36 weekly sessions. The organization believes that the child's own parents are the best teachers.
The organization's mission that originated in North Carolina fifteen years ago is "to lead the home-centered education movement by equipping parents and students with the classical tools of learning needed to discover the order and beauty of God's creation and to inspire others to do the same."
The organization was founded by Leigh Briton and had some 38,000 students nationwide last year with a projected registration of 55,000-70,000 students next year.
According to LeMay, Naples resident Stephanie Miller was the driving force in bringing the movement to the Naples area almost two years ago. There are now three communities here with 110 kindergartners through sixth graders and 48 students in grades seventh through 11th. The phases of the program are Foundations, Essentials and Challenge. (See sidebar.)
Joshua Beightol, 14, from Marco Island sits at a round table with a few other students. Beightol talks with his hands and exudes confidence. He has been in the Challenge program for two years.
"I like Challenge because I really get to interact with my peers and talk about the lessons," he said.
While Florida homeschoolers are not subject to FCAT testing, they are overseen by Florida homeschool statutes and receive a graduation diploma upon completing high school.
Some 90 adults are already registered for the conference. A three-day camp is offered for students, although most spots are filled.
3 programs for Classical Conversations
Foundations: Ages 4-11
Grammar stage: Studies math, science, literature, Latin, history, geography and fine arts. The children here memorize facts, which constitutes the foundation for the next stage.
Essentials: Late elementary ages
Dialect Stage: Students work toward mastering English language skills and improving their writing technique. They gain greater understanding of facts they learned in Foundation.
Challenges I, II, III and IV: Middle and High School years (grades 9-12)
Rhetoric stage: Students work toward becoming independent learners; they read, discuss, debate, analyze and write about award-winning literature — always within the framework of history and a biblical worldview.