Thursday, April 24, 2014
Why Classical Conversations’ Challenge B Program Was Perfect for Us
It was almost a eighteen months ago that I had finally wrapped my brain around the goals and aims I had for my oldest son’s first year of high school. I blogged a little about it here, meant to write more about it, but just ran our of time and steam.
We had a list of options to check out – some would take time, others were just a matter of having a few discussions in the car. In the end, Ben nixed even entertaining traditional government (public) or private high school. He even nixed online classes (for the most part) and expressed the desire to really be with his peers.
After about a month of weighing options (local co-ops designed for high schoolers with elective classes for sibs, plus online courses), we settled into the idea of using Classical Conversations’ Challenge B program for his freshman year of high school. And now, here we are, just a few weeks from completing the program and considering what do to for his third to the last year of home education. You can catch a little on my thinking about this here.
1. Accountability – The challenge program provided accountability to both Ben and me. Ben had a list of assignments that had to be completed in a week’s worth of time, and I had the accountability to make sure it happened. I appreciate the flexibility of the challenge program – I am still the teacher, but the tutor exercises that not-mom authority figure that helped keep us moving forward in our program. I’ll admit, there have been (sadly) many occasions when we have gotten distracted by life, let a project or paper or book fall to the wayside and then not resumed it when we were less distracted. With the ability for me to flex what I wanted Ben to accomplish for his work (for example, he was accountable for completing half of each Latin exercises), we were able to make CC work for us.
2. Novel Programming/ Classes – I faced reality a few years ago. While I know that I can do anything to further my kids’ educations, I don’t. I admire women who are easily able to gather together families to start a new co-op or those who easily put together enrichment classes. I just realize that the skills necessary to do those sorts of thing are not in my skill set; however, I can easily come along side others and help make things happen. Classical Conversations, then, has filled a void for me to allow Ben to do some great things that I wouldn’t normal have the gumption to initiate on my own. Weekly public speaking events, a science project program and Mock Trial are three of the things I can think of off the top of my head that totally blessed our homeschool experience this past year.
3. Peer Pressure – I’m talking positive peer pressure here folks. Last year, we participated in an online co-op for history. I was hoping that some peer pressure (completing assignments, online presentations,etc) would raise the bar in our home school for Ben in preparation for high school. While it did to an extent, the students in class were very abstract to Ben (because the lived in his computer), and it didn’t quite have the effect I wanted. This year, however, was perfect. Ben had two strong students in seminars with him, and I could tell that they really pushed him to excel. I was most impressed by Ben’s turn around in Latin. Latin is not a language that Ben likes, but he has done very well, not giving up at all. His two classmates had already done a bit of Latin last year (the first ten lessons or so) and I know that Ben was a little discouraged at the beginning of the year as they worked through those lessons, which were Ben’s first encounter with the Language. However, his tutor was really happy to see that once everyone was on an even playing field and learning new information, Ben really held his own and excelled. We are even talking about continuing Latin for the next year to fulfill the college entrance requirements for foreign language (he has nearly a full credit for Latin 1 right now – a few more weeks and he would be ready for Latin 2).
This past month or two, the students have been reading short stories in preparation for their own short story. Creative writing is not something Ben enjoys (or any writing, for that matter….), but I know that he really pushed to make his story presentable to his classmates.
Many people wonder how to award high school credit for a Challenge B program. I do not think this is hard to do. Based on the hours that Ben put into his work, he certainly earned elective credit in a number of classes. I will be writing in a month or two on how we finish out the year, credit-wise, for Ben. We have a few more things to do to finish the year well.