Saturday, April 12, 2014

Foundations to Challenge - Bridging the Gap! Meet the Moms

I learned so much from the Directors that participated in the Interviews for Bridging the Gap Series, that I wanted to continue to learn more and widen my perspective, so I decided to go to some Challenge Moms and see what perspective they could share with us, that might illuminate this journey towards the Challenge years ahead.

So today meet the....
 Trease Family

Can you tell us a little about your family and children?  What programs are your children enrolled in (both CC and public or private schools) and how long have you been doing Classical Conversations?

I've been married to my husband, Steve for twenty years and we have four children.  Our oldest, Andrew is sixteen and in Challenge II, Patrick is thirteen and is in Challenge A, our youngest son, Jack is eleven and in Foundations and Essentials and our baby girl, Anna Claire, is eight and is in Foundations.

All of my children are homeschooled and this is our second year in Classical Conversations®. We considered Classical Conversations® when we were looking at high school options for Andrew and the next thing we knew, the entire family was enrolled!  

What are the driving factors in your placement decisions for each of your children?

We began homeschooling our oldest, Andrew, 8 years ago. He was enrolled in a private Christian school which we loved and thought that was where we would stay until graduation. Homeschooling was not even considered. Well, it was actually considered.... I considered it NOT an option. I had a plan but God had another in mind. 

In the middle  of Andrew's second grade year our closest friends' son was in the ICU and was not doing well.  I remember vividly sitting on the back porch with my husband ,Steve, praying for our friends and their son and considered what if the Lord called one of our children home? Afterward, tearfully, I confessed to my husband that I felt like a drill sergeant instead of a loving, involved parent.  I felt my roll had evolved into just getting them out the door to school and activities while others built into and enjoyed our children. I wanted us to have that privilege, that God wanted us to embrace that privilege and then reluctantly admitted I felt God calling us to homeschool. Through that experience God taught me to never say never for He may have different plans.  He also taught me His timing not mine. I learned to step out and be obedient in faith. With that said, THE driving factor in our placement decision for school options yearly is prayerfully seeking God's will for each child and our family.  I would have never guessed that looking for high school options for Andrew would have led the entire family to Classical Conversations. I know the importance of being consistent and making plans but have learned to hold on loosely to those plans. God may have something else in store.

Is there anything you wish you had known about the Challenge program that you learned once your child was enrolled in it, that you wish you knew ahead of time while they were still in Foundations?

Andrew's first year in Classical Conversations was at the Challenge I level, so my perspective is a little different.  I find myself wishing that we would have started Classical Conversations earlier for his sake and mine.  I can see that there are things that Andrew (and Patrick who is in Challenge A) have had to work at and even struggle with, that seem second nature for the kids that have been through Foundations and Essentials.  I think that Foundation parents who aren't in Challenge should be confident that Foundations (and Essentials) is more than enough to prepare your child for Challenge.

If you have younger children that are still in Foundations, what if anything, are you doing differently because of having a child in Challenge?

Having boys in Challenge, I have realized that I need to help my Foundation kids become more self-sufficient at an earlier age.  I now create consistent weekly/ daily planners and assignments and go over it with them in the beginning of the week so that they can wake up in the morning and get started without waiting around for me to tell them what to do.

What from the Foundations program have you found to be most beneficial to your Challenge children? What is the most difficult part of Challenge for you as a parent?

Memorizing all the Latin declensions and verb ending and grammar definitions are very helpful when learning Henle Latin in Challenge. Memorizing the timeline song helps Challenge students easily put historical events in their context. The most difficult part of Challenge for me as a parent, is that I have to let go and let them.  I have to make sure they are taking responsibility for their own education. I need to hold them accountable, but also need to be willing to let them fail in a safe environment, so that they can learn from their mistakes. So I guess the most difficult part of Challenge is having a teenager or two in the house! 

What is the most difficult part of Challenge for your child(ren) (and for each learner it may be different)? What do you find to be the most beneficial part of Challenge for your child?  

I thought the most difficult part of Challenge would be the content but for my boys it has been time management.  It is all about the student taking responsibility for their own education.  They have a guide that spells out what is to be done each week and it is their responsibility, to break it down into what they need to accomplish each day, to complete the assignments. The tutors do a great job of giving them suggestions on how to accomplish this, but it is up to the students ultimately. The most beneficial part of Challenge for my boys, is that they are held accountable by their peers and their tutors and not just by me. The boys have had more than a few "ah ha" moments.  They have come home and said "Mom, you and the tutor said the exact same thing." or "you were right". The Community has helped solidify what we are trying to teach them at home, because it offers them a different perspective on how and why we want " to know God and make Him known" and how that mission impacts every facet of our lives.

If you had one piece of advice to families who are in Foundations and looking to Challenge, what would that be?

I really struggled with whether to let my 13 year old start the Challenge program this year. I thought he would really benefit from another year in Foundations since we had just started Classical Conversations® and I was afraid it would be too "challenging" and discouraging for him. It was such an encouragement to me, to talk to some other moms who also were struggling with the same decision and we prayed for each other. I finally had clarity and peace, after talking to the tutor.  My advice to families looking into Challenge, is to remind them that they are not alone in this journey. The tutor reminded me that I was the teacher, would still steer the ship and that I knew what was best for my child.  The tutor reiterated that her job was to come along side of us as parents and help facilitate our child's learning. She answered all of my questions and with each answer, I experienced more and more peace. The anxiety subsided and through the encouragement of the Community and tutor I realized that my son was ready to be challenged in this safe, encouraging community of kids. So remember, similar to Foundations, Challenge is not just a curriculum but a supportive Community.

If you have missed the previous week's Interviews, then you can find them by clicking on Bridging the Gap Series.


  1. Thank you for this post and for the time you put into this. It was incredibly encouraging to me as our 12 yr. old son will be entering Challenge A in the fall. He has had 3 years of Foundations and Essentials, so that gives this momma some rest and peace.
    Blessings to you and yours,

    1. Lori - I'm so glad that this has blessed you and given you reassurance as you head into Challenge A with your son this fall. Thank you for your comment. Blessings - Colleen

  2. Great post! The bit about time management is what I'm always hearing from Challenge moms too! So glad they're sharing their experiences with all of us :)

    1. Beth - yes, I'm hearing that a lot too. Thank yo for stopping over :) I'm glad the series is blessing you. Blessings - Colleen