To know God and to make Him known.

Challenge: The Icing on the Cake (How to Manage Foundations, Essentials, and Challenge at the Same Time)

I used to think that Foundations was the best time of homeschool life. It is fun to sing the songs, read the picture books, and take lots of field trips. However, now that I have two teenagers in high school (Challenge I and Challenge II) I am experiencing some payoff for all the hard work that I have poured into them!

I spent years training my children to develop good study habits. I modeled, coached, pleaded, reminded, and I made checklists. And now, they are applying those habits on their own!

Every morning since birth, practically, we have had breakfast and started math right away. It is as normal as brushing your teeth. When a student begins Challenge A, they add a second habit to their day: Latin.

These two habits get each day off to a great start. My high school students know to do this without having to ask me about it. This gives me time to spend with my Foundations-age student, who still likes me to work sample math problems with him, and who still needs me to keep him on track. (Actually, I could say that about every subject with a ten-year-old boy.)

After completing math and Latin, my high schoolers select the subject to tackle next. They usually announce it. Everyone has a desk within hearing range of me.

The checklist is one organizational tool I use. I keep it general so I do not have to make a new one each day; it simply lists my high schoolers subjects. They check off a subject when it has been completed for the day.

This year a fellow Classical Conversations mom rocked my world when she told me she is using framed white paper as a whiteboard. I tried it myself. It makes my formal dining room-turned-schoolroom look a little nicer than the shower board from the hardware store. I took a large frame and put white foam core board where the picture should be and I write on the glass with a dry erase maker. It is brilliant.

My daughter took this idea a step further and bought an 8 x 10 frame for her desk. This is where she keeps her checklist. I thought she had such a great idea, that I typed up a checklist for everyone and put it in an 8 x 10 frame for their desk. Now, they can keep track of their progress and it stays out where I can see it!

Challenge A and Challenge B are the most challenging years for parents. These are the years of rigorous training in managing the work and developing good study skills, and it did take a lot of my time and energy. (Plus, it was less fun than singing memory work.) However, the payoff is great! I have two great students who work hard, but need little from me except the fun part: I discuss their literature with them, I check math tests, and we discuss big ideas that come up. It is really the icing on the cake.

TIERS: challenge
CATEGORIES: Articles, Classical Christian Education, Dialectic Stage (ages 12 to 14), Rhetoric Stage (ages 14 to 18)

Leave a Comment