Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Our Memory Master (and what that means)

A friend asked what Memory Master is, and so I realize that this is my third post in a row that is about homeschooling, and that is unusual for me, so while I plan to return to posting about other aspects of our life, I am going there again. Not posting about homeschooling would be strange, since half of my kids are homeschooled and it is a huge part of our lives. But I did want to let anyone reading who doesn't care about this aspect of our life to know that there will be more posts about the cute little ones in our family, or random musings of my heart in the near future, just hang in there!
Me and Jon, the day he finished proofing for Memory Master

We are just days away from completing our fourth year in a program called Classical Conversations. Considering that our oldest child is only eight years old, sticking with something for four years that you have to pay to be involved with says something. For us, it says that we are loving this program and what it has been/done for our family. But I am getting ahead of myself. I know that many people, even in my own family, don't really know what Classical Conversations is, so I'm going to start there.

Classical Conversations is a program that is available all over the world-we know families that who have taken part in Japan and in Germany, not to mention friends who are a part of CC in Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania and Ohio. A family joins a community or campus, which meets weekly for 24 weeks each school year for the Foundations level (K4-6th grade). Each week, the Foundations classes meet from 9:15-noon, and many stay for to have lunch together afterwards. The kids are separated into groups of 8 by their birthdates. They are then led by a tutor (a mom, who teaches/leads and models for the other moms what they can review and/or dive into more deeply with their kids at home). The tutor introduces the new material, called the new grammar, for the week. Each week, the grammar consists of a new question and it's answer in each of the following categories: History, Science, English Grammar, Latin. Along with those questions and answers, there are facts for Math (counting by numbers 1-15, memorizing the formulas for finding areas, conversions, etc.), Geography locations, and a Timeline of over 150 facts of which they memorize 7 each week. After she introduces the material by chanting, singing it to some catchy beat or some other fun, yet simple way, the class does a science experiment and an art project, each child does a presentation-think show and tell, but more advanced as the kids mature-and then the time is rounded off with a review game to go over the new memory work. Each year, the students are given the opportunity to try to achieve the title of Memory Master, but committing to memory all of the information covered during the 24 weeks. 
Sam and his buddy, Luke, learning to play a song on the Tin Whistle
The basic idea behind the classical model of educating is that there are three stages of learning: the grammar, the dialectic, and the rhetoric. My boys are in the grammar stage and the idea here is memorize, memorize, memorize... You often hear adults talking about how much harder it is to remember things, well, that is actually true, so why not have those little ones just soaking up that information. We can explain it in more detail as they become old enough, but first, just get those memory pegs in there while it is fairly easy to do so. For this reason, CC has three cycles, one per year, that get repeated. Jon was first introduced to the information of this year's cycle when he was five. Now, he's eight and we can go into some explanations that we couldn't when he was five. Next year, we'll circle back to the cycle he covered when he was six. As a nine year old, we'll be able to dig deeper than we did before. It's really a very cool process to be a part of with my kids.

Now that I have probably thoroughly confused you, let me get back to the main reason I am posting, explaining what becoming a Memory Master means. I am going to give a basic recap of some of the information that Jon memorized this year to become a Memory Master. For proprietorial reasons, I can't list all of the information or exact way that it's presented, but if you have questions, feel free to ask and I will try to give a better explanation.

Timeline: over 150 facts that started at Creation and goes to the present day, they also memorize all of the presidents
Jon and a few of his classmates learning about some
 of the leaders during the Age of Absolute Monarchs
History: 24 questions and answers on information that covers everything from Charlemagne to the explorers to the Cold War and much, much, more
Science: 24 questions and answers regarding the food chain, the seven biomes, three of Newton's laws of motion and three of the laws of thermodynamics, different types of stars, the phases of the moon, the planets, types of consumers, and more.
Jon learning the phases of the moon with Oreos at CC earlier this year
English Grammar: the eight parts of speech and their definitions, a list of indefinite pronouns, the nominative pronouns, the reflexive pronouns, the possessive pronouns, the types of sentences, and more.
Geography: all the countries of Asia, Europe, and Central America, some countries in Africa and South America, the major bodies of water, mountain ranges and rivers in Europe and Asia, and some cities in many of those countries as well.
Latin: the first conjugation endings of 6 verb tenses
Math: Counting by 1's through 15's (i.e. 15's:15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 105, 120, 135, 150, 165, 180, 195, 210, 225), formulas for finding area of basic shapes, conversions for liquids, metric and U.S. Standard measurements, and more

They also learned about several composers and several artist during the fine arts portion, and we went over a portion of scripture from Ephesians each week. Those things were not included in the Memory Master proofing. 

In order to become a Memory Master, the student is required to go over all of the material covered in the seven subjects mentioned in bold above with a parent, then one other adult, then their CC tutor, and then with the director of the CC campus. Jon just completed his final proofing on Tuesday. I am so proud of how hard he has worked this year. If you see him, feel free to ask him to quote a part of his timeline or ask him to name the eight parts of speech or to count by 14's. I cannot wait to see how this knowledge, and the disciple it took to attain it, will come in handy as he goes forward from here. 

One last thing, while Sam did not want to try to earn Memory Master this year, he knows most of the things listed above, so feel free to ask him, too, he'll love showing off a little! ;)