Challenge A

Students are introduced to the robust work of the Challenge program as they encounter the joys and challenges of this discussion-charged Challenge A program.

It is a mix of grammar and dialectic materials as well as an introduction to basic rhetorical skills.

This fulfilling program prepares students for the later Challenges by serving as a bridge between the parent-directed elementary level and a more self-directed stage of learning.

In Challenge A, students have the opportunity to personally invest in their studies by reading, writing, and memorizing. Students devote themselves to “own” their studies and assume the responsibilities of learning that which they can only learn for themselves.

Exposition

Newbery Literature and Persuasive Writing (First and Second Semesters)

The Lost Tools of Writing train students in the art of clear thinking and persuasive writing.

This comprehensive program guides students in the art of thinking clearly.

Each week students are challenged from their assigned reading to ask good questions, employ stylistic techniques and craft a persuasive essay.

Grammar

Latin A (First and Second Semesters)

Students study Latin with an emphasis on vocabulary memorization, declensions, and conjugations.

Students learn to parse and to translate from Latin to English and English to Latin.

The third step in learning anything is to communicate winsomely in word or deed what you have learned.

Debate

Cartography (First and Second Semesters)

This seminar includes continent cartography and memorisation of current political boundaries, countries, capitals, and 150 geographical terms.

The goal of this seminar is for students to draw the world from memory.

Each week, students practice drawing and labelling various continents of the world.

Mastery of the contents of this seminar equips the students with senses of achievement and competency.

This propels them to pursue excellence in subsequent Challenge levels.

Research

Natural Science (First Semester)
Science Fair (First and Second Semester)
Biology (Second Semester)

Students study natural science during the first semester by researching an assigned realm of nature, recording findings, illustrating results and having weekly class presentations.

The final five weeks of the semester allow students to implement their research skills as they practice the scientific method through their science fair projects.

The second semester prepares students to present their science fair projects, and introduces biology through drawing, labelling, and memorising nine human body systems.

In Challenge, our content, assignments, and discussions help students progress from knowledge to understanding to wisdom.

Logic

Mathematics (First and Second Semesters)

Each week, students engage in conversation around numbers, operations, and laws, setting a firm foundation for higher maths studies.

Students may work from Saxon or any other maths book they are using at home, bringing questions to seminar each week to fuel the maths conversation.

Reasoning

Clear Reasoning / Apologetics (First and Second Semesters)

Two general topics are discussed during the year: a comparison of evolution vs. intelligent design, and thinking and speaking truthfully.

Both courses set the foundational premises upon which other Challenges build.

Students will be assigned weekly reading and summarizing of key ideas and arguments and will be asked to memorize a series of catechism-style questions and answers about science and creation.

In seminar, directors lead a discussion on the material studied, challenging students to defend their views.

Abstract thinking is now put into practice as students solve problems, write original papers and speeches, and lead discussions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the benefit of having one director for all six seminars?

Classical Conversations’ directors acknowledge that Christ is the Creator and the sustainer of all areas of study. The beauty of staying with the same director all day is the student is able to observe the director weave the various seminars together and learn how the various areas of study are intertwined. Being with the students across all subjects helps directors mentor each student as a whole person. One director writes, “I think being with the students across all the subjects helps me love them. Perhaps they aren’t great writers, but they are brilliant in Latin, and they can quote a Bible verse for any occasion, so it’s easier to appreciate that God made us all different, and He is wise… It gives you patience: a patience that doesn’t communicate that students can slide, a patience that communicates, ‘I know you’ll get this; you’re going to be great; I’ll do what I can to help you get there.'”

How long will it take each day to complete Challenge A assignments?

Classical Conversations recommends that students spend an hour on each of the six seminars every day, for a total of six hours of study each school day.

What is so special about Latin? Why study Latin?

Because over 50% of our English words come from Latin, the study of Latin provides context and meaning to the English language. Learning Latin also brings richness to the study of maths, science, and logic, as many terms in these areas of study are Latin words. Additionally, knowledge of Latin provides the student with a tool to study literature. Lastly, Latin trains a student to think critically and well as they wrestle through translations. Students who have studied Latin perform better on standardised tests as a result of having learned how to think well. Dorothy Sayers, a British educator and contemporary of C.S. Lewis, wrote, “I will say at once, quite firmly, that the best grounding for education is the Latin grammar. I say this not because Latin is traditional and medieval, but simply because even a rudimentary knowledge of Latin cuts down the labour and pains of learning almost any other subject by at least 50 per cent” (The National Review).

Why do students stay together when they are on different levels of maths or Latin?

The Challenge programs emphasize discussion. Regardless of the Latin or maths level that a student is studying, he can participate in the seminar conversation concerning the concept that is being modelled. The concept might be review, it might be precisely where the student is at, or it might be a preview of a concept the student will encounter shortly. Each scenario is highly beneficial to the student’s education. The beauty of homeschooling is that students can move at a faster or slower pace as needed when they are at home. Our communities give them a unique opportunity to practice compassion, helping students who have more difficulty with the subject, or humility, asking for help from students who find the concepts easier to grasp.

Why does Classical Conversations use The Lost Tools of Writing?

Just because a student can speak English does not mean he can write well. Good writing, like any other skill, is taught and honed through systematic study and practice. The Lost Tools of Writing is the perfect writing program for students in this age range. As they transition from concrete to abstract thinking, they need tools to help them transfer their thoughts from brain to paper. The Lost Tools of Writing (LTW) equips students to think and arrange their thoughts well by breaking the writing process into small, attainable steps.

Why do you include cartography/geography?

A timeline of world history provides one kind of structure, placing events, people and ideas in the context of time. A map of world geography provides another type of structure, locating events, people and ideas in the context of space. Knowing where to find places and features of the world is foundational to understanding other areas of study. For example, in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, the main character, Mary Lennox, moves from India to England. The story becomes much richer when you realize the distance that Mary travelled, the climate change, and the differences in culture that she experienced by moving to a different region of the world.

Why doesn’t Challenge A or B use a standardised curriculum for science?

Since universities and employers focus primarily on the last four years of secondary school, CC has seized the opportunity to have students study science in a purely classical manner. That means students learn about God’s creation through observation, research, and drawing, acquiring tools to study the world around them throughout their lives, not just in a laboratory.

Why do you do Saxon 8/7 maths when most Year 8 students are doing Algebra 1/2?

Challenge A provides a bridge between the Foundations/Essentials programs, where the emphasis is on naming, memorising, and reciting; and the Challenge programs, where the emphasis is on discussing and presenting. Saxon 8/7 is also a bridge between basic and higher mathematics, making this book a perfect fit for Challenge A. The book begins by reviewing the vocabulary, basic operations, and laws of maths and then transitions to exercises that require problem-solving skills. To help students make the transition, directors introduce maths concepts in a way that engages all of the students regardless of their maths level or ability. The maths seminar is not a lecture; it is a discussion.

Why don’t Classical Conversations directors mark students’ papers?

It is our desire to let parents experience the joy of homeschooling their children in the manner that best fits their family dynamics, while still using the Classical Conversations model. Directors exist to demonstrate this model to parents and students. They support and encourage, but they do not take over the role of the parent. When parents grade their student’s papers, they see the areas where their student needs help and further study. This information is not as beneficial to the director as it is to the parent, who remains the primary teacher. Each family has their own standard of acceptable and unacceptable work. Having parents grade the work keeps parents in control of their goals for their students.