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A review/opinion of the Challenge program, please!


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Hi!

We've had to go back to the drawing board for our high school plans. My son starts 9th grade next year and he had been attending a program that allowed you pick and choose what you wanted and pay for individually. However, that is not going to work out for this next school year. So, I've been looking at the Challenge I program. It looks like a good fit for us. We have been given the option to drop the math/science portion if we want. And, I think we will since we use MUS and my son has already had physical science this year.

 

So, can I get some opinions about the program? Likes and dislikes? Anything I might should consider before taking the plunge?

 

Thanks so much

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Do you have a way to sit in an visit a class from the actual campus you'd be doing CC? There is a significant variant in the quality of the program dependent on the teacher and the campus. We tried Challenge 1 when my oldest was in 8th grade. I should have listened to my instincts. I didn't think it was going to be enough work or challenging enough so I asked to have her placed in Challenge 1 even though I thought that was a bit light as well. They were very reluctant, telling me it was way to much for someone not in high school. Eventually they relented, we too did math and science at home, but even with a year ahead - it was not nearly enough for any subject. Fortunately it was 8th grade and I didn't have to worry about it being enough for credit and we supplemented everything at home. But for the money - it was not close to worth it and without supplementation I would not have felt comfortable giving high school credit for the work. I have heard people who have not had this experience and it often sounds like different people have different programs depending on what the teacher does - so definitely try the actual campus you will be on. Don't assume they are all the same.

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I am a first year Challene I tutor, and also fairly new to CC. My daughter jumped into Challenge B last year for the second semester. I really love the program, and have not found it to be too light at all. As a tutor, I have added writing instruction and supplemented the econ and gov some-which is technically the parents' job, but since I have two kids in there and we are a small group, I did it for everyone. The main thing you have to remember in order to get the CC vision is that it is not a one day a week drop off school program. They very much expect parents to be involved. If you go into it thinking it is like a coop or university model class, you're going to be disappointed. The tutor is not supposed to give grades (we correct quizzes and give a fraction of #correct/#total) and give feedback on the papers. The midterms and finals are the possible exceptions. Also, the tutor is not a master teacher, he/she is learning with the students, encouraging them, facilitatiing conversations/discussions, etc.

 

I wouldn't recommend A for a 9th grader. I have a friend who put her 14 year old son in A this year, and while the work load has been ok, socially it has been very hard for him to be in there with much younger kids. If you think Challenge I will be too much, I would suggest B. Mock Trial is a blast and they learn a lot of great material/skills in B.

 

One of the things I most love about CC is that it keeps you accountable yet allows flexibility-if your family has the flu or dad gets an unexpected vacation, you can excuse your child from assignments with no penalty. I also love that we meet 15 weeks in the fall and 15 weeks in the spring. That doesn't by itself get in our 180 days, but my kids have worked for at least four hours every weekend while CC was in session. Add to that the work they had to do over Christmas and Spring break, and technically we are done with school at the end of April! We will still do some math and writing, but there is no pressure. I also love that there is not a frantic search for materials for next year. Usually I am driving myself crazy with planning by now, but with CC it is all done for me:) And lastly, the training sessions for tutors, parent practicums, forums, and community are invaluable for the support they provide. ok, I know I sound like a CC commercial here, but I really, really, love it and think that if more of our kids had this type of Christian classical education, we could change the world:) My daughter has changed dramatically since starting CC-she thinks and watches the news and is really interested in what's going on in the world around her. We've always done classical (I've been a member here for oh, 12 years?), but something about the opportunity to really discuss and present projects about what she is learning really encouraged her. Although nothing is going to make her like Latin:)

 

I would listen to all the mp3 downloads on the website, read the articles, and go visit. Maybe you can split the day between the different challenges to see what each is like. And don't forget to ask to look at the guide.

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Do you have a way to sit in an visit a class from the actual campus you'd be doing CC? There is a significant variant in the quality of the program dependent on the teacher and the campus. We tried Challenge 1 when my oldest was in 8th grade. I should have listened to my instincts. I didn't think it was going to be enough work or challenging enough so I asked to have her placed in Challenge 1 even though I thought that was a bit light as well. They were very reluctant, telling me it was way to much for someone not in high school. Eventually they relented, we too did math and science at home, but even with a year ahead - it was not nearly enough for any subject. Fortunately it was 8th grade and I didn't have to worry about it being enough for credit and we supplemented everything at home. But for the money - it was not close to worth it and without supplementation I would not have felt comfortable giving high school credit for the work. I have heard people who have not had this experience and it often sounds like different people have different programs depending on what the teacher does - so definitely try the actual campus you will be on. Don't assume they are all the same.

 

Can you be more specific about what wasn't nearly enough for any subject? Just for starters they do Henle Latin 1, Saxon Algebra 1, and an Apologia science text. They read and discuss and write about 21 different novels and books of essays. That's way more than I ever did in any high school class. Just these four areas look like plenty of work worthy of high school credit. I'm not familiar enough with the assignments for the other two subject areas to have an opinion.

 

I ask because my son is going into Challenge B this fall with the plan to continue with Challenge 1 the following year.

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They also write a 10 page research paper in Challenge I on a science topic, while keeping up with all the regular work in the text, plus writing at least one formal lab report for each module. I never wrote a research paper at all until my upper level college classes! The theater is light, but it's supposed to be fun. The main work is the project due at the end of the semester. My dd did hers on what type of clothing the characters would have actually worn, complete with drawings, research, and oral presentation. The same goes for philososphy in the spring-it is a lighter subject. They read three chapters from the book each week and make a chart to be memorized for the final. But the project is the cruxt of written work and is similar in scope to the theater project. And I am totally ok with those subjects being lighter as the literature, math, science, debate, and Latin are so full.

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Here's a good thread on this (I realize that the search function isn't always helpful): http://forums.welltr...de-high-school/

 

I weighed in with my issues there. I don't regret our past choices, and I don't regret doing mix-and-match for my oldest instead of Challenge II this year. He just wasn't pushed in the way that I would have liked in Challenge I last year, and I knew that Challenge II would be no better. I would say that it was largely the program at that point for us, although we had peer issues the previous year in Challenge B (poor behavior and poor participation).

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