Questions for a Challenge Student

Will Strauss pic



Today's post comes from a guest son Andy (14).  He is about to enter his 7th year as a homeschooler, and 6th in the Classical Conversations programs.  He spent three years in Foundations and Essentials, and then completed Challenge A and Challenge B.  Hope you enjoy!


A few weeks ago, a group of homeschooling moms had an opportunity to ask some middle/high schoolers in the Classical Conversations Challenge program questions about their experiences. Being a home schooler myself, I attended and answered some of their questions, and I thought I'd share that Q & A with you.

Here are a few things they asked:

“How involved are your parents?”

Throughout my education, my parents have been very involved. Yet they strategically involved themselves in a way that allowed me to succeed and make my education my own. They also let me fail. Why in the world would my parents let me fail? Although I didn't know it, letting me fail helped me to grow mentally by learning from my mistakes. One example would be my schedule.  At the beginning of the week, I would schedule out my week.  Often I would underestimate the time it would take to complete tasks.  By giving me room to fail, I learned how to better estimate tasks and become a better manager of my time.  While my mom didn't make my schedule for me, she would sit and talk through the week's work with me.

“How have your grammar studies improved your studies in Latin?”

In our home school community, the 4th - 6th grade classes direct their studies in the afternoon to developing their English grammar and writing skills in the Essentials program. When a 6th grader moves up to 7th grade, he/she will begin studying Latin. What I have discovered is that if you want to learn a new language, then you absolutely must know your own language. Consequentially, I was prepared to charge into middle school. My grammar studies helped me to easily understand Latin.

“What are some cool projects you have done?"

Since I am home schooled, some of the projects I get to do are different than what a public school student might do. One of the first projects I got to do is memorize and draw the entire world!!

questions for a challenge student drawing maps

I know. It sounds crazy, but I managed to memorize the states, capitals, countries, continents, oceans, and some features in one measly school year. At first the world seemed really big and impossible, (because it is) but as I started to memorize those things the work I needed to do to have it cemented in my mind seemed to decrease.

questions for a challenge student science fair

Another project I got to do was a science fair. After searching for a good, strong idea for my project, I finally came up with this question: “Do lowered temperatures effect a ball's bounce?”

So I found four different sized balls and froze them in our freezer ( 20 degrees ) for different amounts of time. Then I set up a chart vertically against the wall. Finally, I bounced the icy balls beside the graph and marked the tip of its bounce. Once I set up my project board, I was ready for the fair. I didn't win any medals or trophies, but it was an amazing experience and I learned a lot more than I expected about rubber, density, and how balls progressed from pig fat footballs to what we have today.

questions for a challenge student mock trial

My most recent project is probably my most memorable. I had the opportunity to participate in a “Mock Trial.” My home school 8th grade class was assigned with a murder case. We were given evidence, witness statements, and instruction on how to act in a courtroom and told we had this semester to figure out a way to defend and prosecute Barbara Barrett – the killer. Of course, since this is a Mock trial, we were all assigned parts in the case and one of the girls got to play as Barbara Barrett. I was assigned “Lead prosecution attorney,” which meant I had to lead my “co-counsels” in a way I had never done before. Thankfully, with the encouragement of our community, when the trial was over, we discovered that we had won the case.

“What was the most important thing you learned?”

With all of these fun projects and studies, the most difficult yet important task I faced throughout my whole 8th grade was what laid outside of my studies. A few weeks before class started, I learned that I was going to be the only boy in my class. I'm sure most would gasp, but since I live with two younger sisters my mom and grandma, (no brothers) I felt... mostly prepared. Thankfully, I'm not a rough, rowdy, throw dirt everywhere type of guy, but little did I know what God had in store for me. I learned what it means to be a gentleman. Mom and Dad, being my sole tutors in this study of etiquette, pushed me to be polite. Slowly, yet surely, I figured it out and made it a habit. Now I find myself absent - mindedly smiling at strangers and holding the door open even when the line of people passing through seems endless. I am very thankful God had and still has a plan for me. He trusted me to be a part of that class and now he is trusting me to a new adventure next year!

“What would you tell your 5th grade self to prepare yourself for the years to come?"

5th grade me: Live out Micah 6:8, trust God, and you'll do great. (And yes, I meant to rhyme.)

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, o mortal what is good,

And what does the Lord require of you?




With the Lord your God.

I hope you enjoyed hearing from my Challenge student.  What questions would you like to ask a Challenge student?

Questions for a Challenge Student

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  1. Elizabeth Hafferty on March 14, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    This was amazing. Thanks for the insight.

    • Betsy on March 16, 2017 at 10:08 am

      Thank you! You’re welcome. I’ll have to have him write another one now that he’s a couple of years further down the road.

  2. Michelle on March 23, 2022 at 5:16 am

    I’ll admit, I got a little choked up when he said he learned how to be a gentleman. Of all the things he’s been learning, that may be one of the most valuable. The world needs more kindness.

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