Top 3 Skills Gained in Challenge A

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.

europe map drawing challenge a
You illustrate research.

diagram of an ant sketch notebook challenge a
You diagram body systems.

brain drawing challenge a
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!

latin flashcards challenge a

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!

Top 3 Skills gained in Challenge A Classical Conversations program

Want to hear from him?  He answered some common mother questions as a guest blogger on my blog.  Click here to read more.


  1. […] year, my son and I completed Challenge A.  I say I completed it because I was the tutor in the class, and in order to facilitate the class […]

  2. Shari on December 30, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    How in the world did your son get so great at drawing the map? I have my son practice all the time and he is still having difficulty. He was a triple crown memory master his first year ever going for memory masters. His ability o memorize is incredible! The maps just seem overwhelming…

  3. Allison on April 4, 2019 at 7:26 am

    Just curious what would you say to a homeschooling family who has never used CC approach and has two daughters 15, 13, and a 10 year old son?

    • Betsy on April 4, 2019 at 4:56 pm

      I’ve had new families join my class in a variety of different levels. The key to success is scaling. You can’t expect your new to CC students to perform in the same way as someone whose been in the program for 10 years, just like you wouldn’t expect a new football player to be the quarterback right away. I’m not saying that the ones who have been in CC forever will all be rock stars, it will just be more familiar to them. If you give yourself and your kids grace to ease into a new system, there can be a lot of beauty that comes from jumping in at any time. Your older students will hear the memory work from your younger student and glean the material a different way. If you have a clear vision of what you want for your students and you use the program as a tool to help you achieve your vision, it works really well! Also keep in mind for the Challenge students, every year is new for every student still, so you’re not going to be way “behind” anyone because it will mostly be new for everyone!

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