Challenge I

Discipline is the cornerstone of freedom


Students fourteen years or older discover the joys of rich conversations in this challenging program.

Challenge I students are encouraged to think deeply and critically while improving their reading, writing, and research skills.

Through studies in classical literature, British government, formal logic, Latin, physical science, algebra, free-market economics, and Shakespeare, students hone their dialectical skills and prepare for the rhetorical focus of later Challenges.

Through personal investment, ownership, and discipline, the learner has developed a form for successful learning. Freedom is a prevalent theme in Challenge I literature. As students wrestle with various assignments, they can now experience greater freedom in their own rhetorical expression. Greater freedom brings expanded choices.


Classical Christian Literature (First and Second Semesters)

The study of Christian literature provides students with examples of quality writing about relevant Christian themes and exemplary Christian characters, real and fictional. The composition assignments allow practice of expository and narrative writing. The reading assignments allow students to empathize and examine the life experiences of many people as they “travel” to other times and places.


Latin 1 (First and Second Semesters)

Latin in Challenge I hones and sharpens the skills necessary to learn a foreign language. Building on the grammar, memory work, and translation practiced in Challenge B, students will grow in their ability to translate sentences more fluently and gain the freedom to understand a rich body of Scripture and to communicate it more effectively.

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


Government Documents (First Semester)

Challenge I Debate in first semester focuses on original government documents from ancient times to present day. Challenge I students are prepared to make decisions by reading and researching the available options to an issue or problem and by beginning to identify which solution is best. As they read, students will use classical methods to annotate the documents and articles and to help them process texts that are difficult to understand.


Physical Science (First and Second Semesters)

Six unit studies introduce students to the physical world, the life it sustains, and the laws that make it work. Students integrate the spirit of inquiry with the processes of scientific study, behaving like scientists by asking questions, researching, writing, and sharing results in community. As they test theories, conduct experiments, and contribute to global scientific research projects, students are not simply reading about science, they are doing it.


Algebra (First and Second Semesters)

Using the classical model to learn math motivates students to think deeply about math through conversation, and they gain confidence through interaction with Directors and peers. The orderly thinking and problem-solving practiced in this strand will also be helpful in studies in Research and Debate. Students in Challenge develop discipline and will experience expanded freedom to decide how to solve problems.

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


Traditional Logic I (First Semester)

The Reasoning strand gives students an opportunity to seek truth as never before. The study of logic hones their abilities to construct sound arguments and to recognize the unsound arguments of others. The drama study provides parents with an opportunity to wisely discuss their family’s ideas and standards regarding courtship, love, and marriage.


Each spring, local directors may offer a formal event for Challenge I–IV students.

This is not a prom or a dating event; it is a chance to learn and practice the proper protocol during formal events.

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


We recommend that Challenge I students set aside an hour per subject per day during the school day. Parents will alter this recommendation as students adjust to the progression from Foundations to Challenge, but not all weeks are the same. Families will find that on any given week some strands will require less study time while others require more.

Remember, the Challenge I Assignment Guide is just that: a guide. You are the teacher. You know your student best and know when it is time to slow down or opt out of an assignment. This is the beauty of Classical Conversations and homeschooling. You remain in control of your student’s education.

Many contemporary curricula introduce physical science in Year 9, biology in Year 10, chemistry in Year 11, and physics in Lower 6th. Students who complete physics by Upper 6th, as in Classical Conversations, are better equipped to handle the maths associated with those sciences because their maths skills are further developed and their reasoning skills are more advanced. Students need to be comfortable with the skills of Algebra II in order to solve chemistry equations. Students in other curricula are often encouraged to take chemistry and Algebra II concurrently. The problem with this approach is that they are being asked to apply algebra skills before they have mastered them thoroughly. The same pattern follows in physics. By following the traditional scope and sequence, Classical Conversations students are introduced to prerequisite maths skills ahead of time, at each level.

The beauty of our physical science seminar is that it has many goals, and learning facts about physical science is just one of them. A key component of the seminar is the time spent learning how to learn from a textbook. This is a critical skill, and one that many homeschoolers have not had the opportunity to practice. In addition, Challenge I students learn the step-by-step process involved in writing a lengthy research paper over the course of an entire semester. It is unlikely that your student has mastered all there is to know about the physical creation. Why not take the opportunity to repeat some information, mastering it further, while learning two new and important skills?

No matter what maths program a student uses at home, he or she will benefit from the conversation in our maths seminars. During our discussions, we travel up and down the spectrum of maths concepts from numbers and operations to algebraic equations and geometry and stretch into pre-calculus concepts. Too often, students are engaged in a maths curriculum with little to no conversation, and that leaves them feeling like maths is a disconnected series of steps. If maths remains a rather silent, robot-like, step-driven subject, students miss out on the joy of maths and its beauty as a tool for communicating the structure of creation. So yes! Your student should join the conversation whether or not he uses Saxon at home. We will have a great time discovering the joy of maths together.

Homeschooling parents desire to give their children a better education than the one they received. However, we often fall back on the same methods that were used in our educations, particularly in the area of assessment. As the teacher, you are most familiar with the quality of the work that your student has done, and thus you are in the best position to assign grades. Keep in mind that your student spends only about twenty per cent of his learning time in seminars. You can talk to your director and consider peer feedback as well, but performance in seminar should be only one facet of your child’s overall growth as a learner.

Perhaps you are aware that Challenge I is the year American students begin creating transcripts to record their work. Although British schools do not typically use transcripts, you may want to consider making one as it provides a good record of your student’s work to show universities or employers.