This coming school year, my daughter and I will embark on a journey I did not know I would take back when I first decided to homeschool, taking it “one year at a time.” She will be homeschooled through her first year of junior high! I am still taking it one year at a time, trusting the Lord to guide our decisions about her schooling.
This year my daughter is enrolled in Classical Conversation’s Challenge A Program. She will attend class one day a week with no more than eleven of her peers who will be aged anywhere from 12-14. There are six learning skills or “strands” that students are taught to develop throughout the Challenge program, and each classical subject is taught within the framework of these strands. In class, students are encouraged to interact with each other and with their tutor. The atmosphere is conducive to much questioning and breeds innovative thought and relationship-building.
The rest of the week, she will have assignments to complete. Not only will she be learning information in different subjects (i.e, seminars), but she will also be learning how to balance her work throughout the week so that she is not overloaded on any one day.
The first learning skill of the day is Logic with the specific subject, math. CC believes that studying math gives students problem-solving skills which will later be used in studying formal logic. Math this year will be Saxon 8/7.
Because my daughter will be learning four lessons at a time during class and then will be expected to go back and do the work for each lesson the remaining days of the week, I will also have this resource close at hand in case she runs into a wall:
The language study throughout Challenge is Latin. I’m a bit excited (nerdy of me, I know) to embark on this journey because I’ve always wished that I knew Latin. Now I have my chance! I am thinking about ordering myself my own student books so I can do the work alongside my daughter….in this way, we can learn — and compete — together.
In this skill strand, Challenge students learn and practice how to research, argue, think critically, speak publicly, and use logical analysis. Challenge A students study a comprehensive and exhaustive Geography course. Not only can they name every country in the world and its capitol city, but they can DRAW and label the entire world….freehand. How’s that for gaining information later in life?
This portion of the curriculum involves intensive writing and is linked with literature and history. The first semester, we will focus on the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW)’s Bible-Based Writing Curriculum. We’ve already used two IEW curriculums and are excited about working on this one because it will pair what we’ve learned about clear, structured writing/thinking with what we learn from God’s Word, the Bible:
To help us with our technical writing skills, we will use these handy reference charts for proper grammar usage. We’ve already learned these skills through our enrollment the past two years in CC’s Essentials classes, but these reference charts will definitely come in handy:
The second semester, the writing will be based on novels that students read. Students will read and discuss a novel the first week and will have a paper due on the novel the second week. A key component of this class is that students are required to orally present (read) their papers to the rest of the class for feedback. To assist in this portion of the class, students use:
In this skill set, students study science and perfect the research learning skill. Biology and Natural Science are the topics for Challenge A. The first semester, students will research a topic and present the information each week in class. They will use a research notebook to help them organize their findings:
The second semester, students will focus on the human body systems. This will require extensive memorization not only of terms, but also of the visual appearance of each system as they will learn how to draw each system — freehand.
The sixth and last component of our curriculum is Rhetoric, where students will combine writing, public speaking, and logical thinking. Challenge A students use two books to help them in this endeavor:
This robust curriculum reminds me somewhat of the Saturday courses I took in college — one intense day in the classroom followed by multiple assignments throughout the week. My daughter will be more prepared for college than I ever was when she learns how to handle this course load! (By the way….this first year of Challenge is considered the “easy” year!)
For more information about Challenge programs in your area, visit the Classical Conversations website.