Our family has been a part of Classical Conversations communities since 2010. I homeschooled a year without it, and while I enjoyed being able to guide the direction of our studies, I knew that if I was going to make it through the high school years, I'd need a community. When I found CC, I loved the vision and path that they mapped out for the middle school and high school years. Little did I know that more than the great content studied, great skills were developed.
My son just completed Challenge B, so I'll be talking more about that in the future. These are the top three - but by far not the only - skills gained.
1. Cultivating observation by drawing
In Challenge A you do a whole lot of drawing. You draw maps.
You illustrate research.
You diagram body systems.
What we discovered is that this type of approach really requires one to be highly observant. When you transfer an image, your eyes take on so much more information than simply filling in a blank chart. This skill isn't about fine art, so you don't have to be a great artist to excel in this skill. If you're looking to scale Challenge A for your student, don't ditch the drawing, just scale your expectations of frame-able work.
2. Memorize, memorize, memorize
You'd think if you're moving out of Foundations, then the memory phase of learning would be complete and the discussion phase can begin. However, you can always add more grammar to a subject. In my own educational experience, at some point I was expected to be an expert in whatever I was studying. Therefore there was nothing new to add to my knowledge. Challenge a takes what kids already know from the Foundations program, and adds a whole heaping helping of new things to memorize!
In Latin, they memorizing vocabulary, declensions, conjugations, and grammar rules. In Geography, they are memorizing countries, capitals, and features. It doesn't stop there. In science they memorize a sentence or two from each chapter, giving them a basic working knowledge of the subject. All of this memorization produces the understanding that in order to learn any subject you have to start from the ground and build up. If you're not in Challenge yet, work to be a memory master. Learning the skill of memorizing early will only bless your student as they move up into the Challenge years.
3. This is my education.
In Challenge A, One of the hardest things to do as a mom is to allow them to learn how to manage themselves. Since education only happens when a student owns it, my favorite skill that my son learned that year was how to break down any amount of work in a week and get it done. We would work together in the first few weeks planning out how the work was going to get done, then he'd have a couple weeks to plan on his own. Inevitably, there would be something he missed or didn't quite get done, so we would work again to figure out how to remedy that problem. Is it okay to let your kid fail? I think this is the best time to let them fail, because the stakes are not very high. Every family has a different schedule, so it was important to find a rhythm that worked best for our family and my son. For us it meant getting together on Wednesday nights after church to sit and work on some Latin together. I cherish those times, and I am so thankful that he's getting opportunities to practice managing himself before he leaves for college!
Want to hear from him? He answered some common mother questions as a guest blogger on my blog. Click here to read more.
Betsy Strauss is an unexpected homeschooler, mother of three, who is in a relationship with a sweet man for life. She loves reading books, drinking coffee, and learning anything with her kids.