Hey, new CC parent! I'm excited for you! You have made a great decision, joining a CC community and jumping in to this program. Maybe you signed up to have a social outlet for your kids, maybe because you are completely on board with the Classical approach, or maybe you don't know anything about it and just didn't want to do the homeschool thing alone. Whatever your situation, and whether your child is four or eleven, or somewhere in between, here are some tips from a fifth-year mom (and fourth-year director) to make the most of this first year.
Get ready the night before. Lunches planned and maybe even made, backpacks and diaper bags by the door, breakfast dishes on the table, a simple supper planned. Community Day is only once a week; you can do this.
Expect a learning curve. The classical approach is completely different from the approach in most modern schools, whether public or private. You may feel like a fish out of water for the first semester, maybe even all year, and if so, that is okay. You are in the grammar stage of understanding CC and next year, you will "get it" so much better, trust me. It's okay to sit back and do lots of watching and listening this year.
Read your Foundations Guide. Don't fall prey to the idea that maybe you can get by without it. The Guide is valuable. Not only does it have all of your memory work for the year, but it also contains chapters about the classical approach, how to memorize, suggestions for how to organize your homeschool day, information about the science and fine arts projects, all of the maps...so read it. I didn't my first year, until April, and just about kicked myself, because all of that would have been SO helpful.
Know what CC will and won't give you. It won't teach your kids math or reading, so make sure you've got that covered, although you sure can ask other parents what they do. (Once you're in Essentials, Language Arts is covered.) It will cover science and social studies, though. (See the point "Trust the System".)
Be ready to fully engage on Community Day. Put your cell phone on vibrate and leave it in your purse except to take pictures. Don't sit in the back and chat with other parents. Come ready to get on the floor with your child's class and learn alongside him or her. Model involvement for the sake of your child and other parents, and for your own sake, too. The tutor is there to model the classical approach for you as much as, or more than, for your kids
Have realistic expectations - of your kids, your community, and yourself. This is all new for you, but also for your kids. They probably won't do Memory Master this year - and that's okay! You will actually be shocked at how much they learn and remember throughout the year, but it may take them a little while to find their groove, too. And your community? Remember that they are all homeschooling families just like yours, everyone trying to do their best for their children, and every one of them on the sanctification road. Someone may rub you the wrong way, and vice versa, and so we all need to give grace - to ourselves and to each other.
Trust the system. The "CC System" is something like this - if you do the Foundations curriculum, plus math and reading, and then add Essentials when your child is 9, and let your child read read read, that is enough. Academically, you don't need to add anything more than that for them to be prepared for the academic rigors of middle school/junior high at age 12. Are there exceptions? Sure, and you need to be watchful for what YOUR child needs, but as a rule, the system works. It feels totally different than school as most of us know it, and so it can be tempting to add in extra stuff, and as a result we feel really overwhelmed, but you probably don't need it. Honest.
Limit your time on CC Connected (CC's subscription service), Google and Pinterest. If you search for "CC Cycle 3", you will find hundreds, maybe thousands, of pins and blogs and worksheets. It's overwhelming Don't spend too much time looking. Ask friends what one blogger or CCC contributor they trust and do that, but don't stress about what your kids could be missing out on by not doing a morning basket or this unit study. Just don't. Keep it "stick in the sand" simple, especially your first year.
Keep your eyes on your own lane. Don't compare your life with the mom you eat lunch with on Community Day. Don't compare your child with the one he or she is in class with. We are each on our own journey. The CC community is about encouraging and supporting, but not about comparing. You've got this!
Most of all, pray. Pray for your director and tutors. They aren't supermoms or dads who have it all together, just parents like yourself. They are the lead learners, but not untouchable leaders. And they need your prayers. (Trust me, as a director, I am certain of this!) And pray for your community, for the other families on the same, yet different, homeschooling road. And for your kids, and for yourself. Because God will teach you more this year than He teaches them, and will guide you each step of the way if you let Him.
Have a wonderful year!!