The Challenge-ing Future


This week, we are taking a much needed spring break.  During our week off, I thought I'd come out of the closet.  We are no longer a Classical Conversations family.  In fact, we haven't been for well over a year.  I debated whether or not to even mention this educational change on my blog.  So, why now ... ?  Over the past few months, I have been questioned repeatedly and often about my status with the organization.  My post about our new involvement at the YMCA hinted about our change.  Because most of the traffic to this site is still for my Essentials and Challenge A posts, I thought it necessary that I come clean.

Over Thanksgiving break of 2015, my husband and I took our then fourteen-year-old-Challenge-B son out for coffee.  We told him we had something pertinent to discuss.  After much prayer, thought, and discussion on our part, we presented him with a question:  Do you want to quit Challenge B?  Eagerly and enthusiastically he responded: Yes!  He then followed with: I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  My son did not return for the spring semester of his Challenge B year. I finished the Classical Conversations year tutoring Essentials while my daughter finished out her sixth and final Foundations/Essentials year with no plans to enter Challenge A.  We have not done anything CC related since this time last year.

It was something my husband and I had discussed for many months, and it was not a decision we made lightly.  There are so many elements of CC that I love, and homeschooling without it is a new kind of journey.  I feel like I've been a spokesperson for the organization since we first enrolled in 2010.  I loved tutoring, training, directing, and (most dearly) modeling for parents how to learn alongside their children.  I envisioned my family being part of the CC community until both my children graduated from high school.  (Just so you know how serious I was about CC, I even met Leigh Bortins herself while I was in the midst of making this decision.)

Posting about our decision eighteen months after the fact enables me to remain fairly objective.  Publicly, I will not share with you every reason we made this decision.  Please know there were many.  Our ANI chart was quite full.  I don't believe there is one right way to educate your children.  I don't believe there is one right way to homeschool.  I do believe that every family needs to make the best decision for their children and move forward with it.  For the record, I am still an avid fan of the Foundations and Essentials programs.  But reality is, the Challenge program is not the best fit for our family.

Since you've read this far, I will entertain you with one of the reasons we moved away from the Challenge program. We want our children to have a say in what they learn and when they learn it.  (That value shows up in this post.)  Our children have shown far more ownership in their studies when those studies are interest-based and self-directed.  The bulk of this blog is about just that.  I discovered that we needed a little more time and freedom to pursue those areas of study.  This year, my 9th-grade son came to me and said:  I want to learn Spanish.  I'd like to take a Spanish class.  I said: Sure!  He has owned and embraced this subject more than he did with any of his Challenge work.  (As an encouragement to those of you still tackling Latin, my son also said:  Spanish is a breeze after all those years of Latin and English Grammar.)  About six weeks ago, my 7th-grade daughter, who has been diligently working through Saxon 7/6, came to me and said: I would like to start Algebra next year. I know you wanted me in Pre-Algebra, but do you think we could finish that over the next several months, so that I can start Algebra in the fall?  Again, I said: Sure!  She has been knocking out Pre-Algebra lessons left and right, all on her own.  I am reassured about our decision.

If you have any questions, or would like to know more the reasoning behind our decision, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I will gladly share more of this journey in private.

- Anne

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