How is Valley Classical School Different from Classical Conversations™?


It is very exciting, albeit a bit confusing, to have both Classical Conversations and Valley Classical School in the New River Valley! Though these educational offerings are both “classical,” they are also both distinct (click here for VCS's approach to classical education). In brief, Classical Conversations is a homeschool group where the parent is the teacher. In contrast, Valley Classical School is, as its name implies, a school where two days a week the bulk of teaching is performed by the school teachers with parents as the support or “co-teacher” at home.

This chart attempts to summarize the differences between VCS and Classical Conversations (CC):

CC Foundations (up to 6th grade) CC Challenge (> 6th) Valley Classical School
One half day a week (full day with Essentials*) One full day a week Two full days a week
Parent chooses and teaches own curriculum at home (Foundations focuses on supplemental memory work, plus science and art projects). Essentials supplements English grammar, writing, and math curriculum Pre-Selected Curriculum taught by parents (Material reviewed/discussed with tutor during weekly class) Pre-Selected Curriculum taught in school by teachers with parents as “co-teachers”
Parents required to be present Parents have the option of being present Parents invited to join morning assembly only (in addition to special events)
No grades given No grades given (parents grade and record transcripts) Grades given, transcripts created
Parents responsible to show progress to state Parents responsible to show progress to state School administers standardized tests to meet state requirement
Parent as teacher Parent as teacher Parent as “co-teacher” (teaching diminishes progressively in grades 7-12)
Classical Conversations “Tutor” (must be a Classical Conversations parent) Classical Conversations “Tutor” (must be a Classical Conversations parent) Teachers, one per grade for Pre K through 4 and Subject or Master teachers Junior High and High School
*Classical Conversations's Essentials program is an optional supplement to Foundations.

More on Classical Conversations™

Classical Conversations offers its “Foundations” program for students up to about 6th grade and its “Challenge” program for older students. In addition, its “Essentials” program provides supplemental English grammar, math, and writing instruction to students in 4th through 6th grade. In the elementary school years, Classical Conversations does not provide a comprehensive homeschool curriculum. Instead, the weekly meetings, led by parent “tutors,” focus on a rigorous set of memory facts that include math, science, English grammar, Latin, and history. In addition, students complete a weekly art project and a hands-on science project. 

Briefly, the term “tutor” is used in Classical Conversations in part to be clear that the parent is the teacher. The structure of Classical Conversations is that all “tutors” must be parents with children currently enrolled in the program. In all levels of Classical Conversations the “tutor” is not expected to teach, rather they are to review material. As the parents are required to be present in the Foundations program, Classical Conversations meeting days provide an opportunity to fellowship with other homeschooling parents, exchange ideas, and support one another. 

Where Foundations is designed as a supplement to a curriculum that is selected and taught at home independently from the Classical Conversations material, Challenge offers a comprehensive curriculum. Parents remain responsible for all teaching and grading at home, and students prepare for a weekly class with their “tutor” and peers to dialogue about the week’s work. 

Valley Classical School Compared

Valley Classical School is a significantly different offering from Classical Conversations. Valley Classical is a formal school, but limits itself to two days a week in order to honor and support time with family at home as well as provide flexibility with extracurricular pursuits or individual educational needs.

Where the elementary school years of Classical Conversations focuses on supplemental memory work, Valley Classical teaches a full curriculum in math, science, history, language arts (which includes spelling, grammar, composition, poetry, and reading), and Latin. The arts and music are woven into the curriculum, as is physical education. In Kindergarten through 4th grade, home assignments are given for two days each week (that is, two days in school, two days of home assignments) and the fifth weekday is a flex or free day. In 5th through 12th grades, home assignments are given for all three non-campus days each week in keeping with the depth of the material as the children mature. Assignments given for home days are turned into the teachers on the next school day and graded.

The home assignments are posted through an online interface the Friday prior to each week.  They walk the parent step-by-step through the material to be completed at home. In the elementary school years, the parent will not be responsible for teaching new material in science and Latin on the home days but will be introducing new material in English grammar and mathematics.  As the student grows older, specifically in Junior High and High School years, the “co-teacher” role of the parent diminishes and the bulk of the teaching occurs at school though subject or “master teachers.” This occurs with the understanding that the material becomes more specialized and difficult during the Junior High and High School years. 

Valley Classical School conducts parent “co-teacher” training in late summer to ensure that parents feel equipped to manage home days.

Rani Rosborough