The STAR Model vs the Classical Community Model

Perhaps your family has participated in a national classical homeschool program. Our family was in a community like that for two years, and there were things that we enjoyed and did not enjoy. In developing the STAR model, I considered what we liked and didn’t particularly like about the classical community model. I will break this down by pre-K through 6th grade and 7th grade through 12th grade.

Pre-K through 6th Grade, What We Liked:

  • There was a predictable schedule every week. STAR Community days will also be predictable.
  • The class sizes were small. STAR Community classes will also be small. (See the FAQ’s)
  • Kids did projects most weeks. Students will be doing projects every week at STAR Homeschool Community.
  • We had potlucks and dress up days. The STAR calendar also includes dress up days and will include potlucks.
  • Moms stayed on site and helped out. Moms of students in grades Pre-K through 6th grade will stay on site and help out on STAR Community days as well. This creates such a nice community, as moms get to know one another and are deeply involved in their kids’ education.

Pre-K through 6th Grade, What We Didn’t Like:

  • Students memorized very few Bible verses, even though it was a Christian community. Bible memory and Bible reading is going to be a core subject at STAR Homeschool Community.
  • The history was fast paced, covering every major historical event in three years. STAR’s program will use a four year history cycle, spreading these events out a little more.
  • We were not crazy about the Latin. Latin vocabulary is useful, but we did not like making young children memorize Latin declensions. STAR’s memory work program from Claritas Publishing includes a Latin strand, but we will not be requiring it as a community.
  • The memory work had no context. Since the program was not assigning or proving suggestions for weekly reading, the memory work had no context. (An organized parent who was on top of things might pull out library books that lined up with each week’s memory work. I personally found this difficult to keep up on because of the fast pace. It would have helped me to have a guide, like the Family Guide I am writing for the STAR Community, with resource and activity suggestions that would give context to the memory work.)
  • The program was predictable and repeated every three years. Kids who had been in the program for many years were bored. I tutored a “Masters” class of older kids who had basically grown up in the program. They were good kids, but they were so bored with the material that they spent a lot of class time goofing off. STAR’s program will repeat after four years instead of three, allowing for one more year of material and one more year between a cycle that students may be familiar with. Also, some of the books and activities used will differ between the grade levels. This means that if a child went through Cycle 2 in first grade, for example, and then goes through it again in the fifth grade, they will not be doing the exact same projects or going through all of the exact same books.
  • The afternoon language arts program was intense. While a child with learning struggles might get by in the morning program, they would stand out like a sore thumb in the incredibly rigorous language arts program. The program easily took an hour a day with our ten year old, and she was an early reader and did not struggle with written words in the same way that some of our other children have. The language arts program at STAR will be a gentler approach.

7th through 12th Grade, What We Liked:

  • Our high school boys read so many great books! High schoolers in the STAR Community will also read great books.
  • Apologia science books are excellent, and I loved that they went through these with a group. STAR students will be going through Apologia science books as well.

7th through 12th Grade: What We Didn’t Like:

  • There was no Scripture memory and little Bible time. This is the most important subject our kids will ever study! At STAR Homeschool Community, our teens will be studying Scripture.
  • They had so much homework! Our boys did not have time to do so many of the things that we had done together before. We had previously done Bible time, hymn study, and history all together, and we could no longer do that. Students will not have such an intense workload in the STAR Homeschool Community. 
  • Middle and high school students were not on the same history cycle as the younger children. In addition to the fact that our boys had no time to do subjects with the family, they were studying entirely different history periods. This, along with the Bile reading and Scripture memory, is one of the most family-friendly differences in the STAR Homeschool Community: all students will be studying the same time period of history. Younger students may focus on inventions during the time period while older students learn about war—but they will all be able to look at maps and timelines together, and to hear a history read aloud as a family.
  • We did not love so much Latin. Latin vocabulary is useful, but the amount of time spent on Latin was too much. Some of our kids also took a high school Spanish course, so they did not need Latin for their transcript. The Core STAR subjects do not include Latin or any other language. Perhaps in the future, we will be able to offer a language or two either during the afternoon classes or on a second, elective day. 
  • The debate strand was okay, but NCFCA (National Christian Forensics and Communication Association) does it better. Two of our sons participated in debate club through NCFCA and went to tournaments, and their curriculum is definitely the better of the two. We will be using NCFCA’s speech, apologetics and debate curriculum at STAR Homeschool Community. If students are interested in competing at a tournament, they will have the option to do so, but it will not be a requirement.
  • There was no time to learn basic life skills. Ideally, teens should have time to cook, learn to budget with mom or dad, do household repairs, etc. These are basic survival skills, but our boys did not have any time for these things with such an intense workload. The STAR Homeschool Community workload will be less intense, and students will be doing some independent study about survival skills.

Classical communities are excellent college prep programs, but they sacrifice some of the most special things about homeschooling along the way (Bible, Scripture memory, family history and read aloud time). The plan is that the STAR Homeschool Community will aid parents in preparing their kids for whatever God has for their life (college, or whatever He has for them) while preserving a family-friendly, homeschool environment.

About Author

Brenda has been a homeschool mama for many years! Three out of five of her kids have graduated and she has seen the pros and cons of many types of homeschool communities. Brenda has a B.A. from the University of Washington in Culture, Literature and the Arts. STAR Homeschool Community is birthed out of years of experience and a love of homeschooling.

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