Homeschool High School With The Classical Conversations Challenge Program

Homeschool High School with the Classical Conversations Challenge Program

Homeschooling high school CAN be done! 

In fact, homeschooling high school is where I am starting to see the fruits of my homeschool mom labor.... why would I quit now when it's just getting good?  

We have been part of a Classical Conversations community for the past three years. In that time, my oldest (now 9th grade) has completed Challenge A and Challenge B - and now she is on the home stretch in Challenge I. 

There are so many reasons I would recommend Classical Conversations, but for high school I love it for a few BIG reasons. 

1. Unlike many other homeschool high school programs, I (as a parent) retain the control in grading and assignments. Our Challenge tutor partners with our family, but we still have all of the authority. 

2. Students learn together (in an intimate setting) about TOUGH topics. Everything is based on a give and take - lots of discussion. 

3. The five canons of rhetoric - invention, arrangement, elocution, memory, and delivery - are emphasized throughout ALL subject areasThis prepares our children for a world where they will need to defend their faith in God and viewpoints in an articulate and accurate manner.  

Families who appreciate the classical model recognize that the current deluge of trivia and the trivial has damaged their ability to engage in meaningful, responsible discourse. They want to train their children in the art of thinking and using words to clearly express those thoughts. Practicing the five canons of rhetoric inculcates these abilities.
— Leigh Bortins


*I have not been compensated by Classical Conversations for this post.  I'm just a happy CC mom that wants to share our experiences. 

A Word About Accreditation and Transcripts

Before we go any further.... so much of a homeschool parent's fear about homeschool is wrapped up in accreditation and creating transcripts.  

After doing much research, I am confident that I will be able to transcripts my children's high school experience and help them gain acceptance into a college of their choice. 

I will be using The Total Transcript Solution from The HomeScholar to assist me in creating a transcript.  I recently had the pleasure of hosting a high school webinar with The HomeScholar.  

If you'd like your heart to be calmed about homeschool high school, listen to the webinar playback. It will give you GREAT peace of mind! 

About Challenge I

Challenge I translates to ninth grade. See the full scope and sequence (scroll to the bottom of the page) of Challenge to learn more.

Anna meets one day a week 4 other classmates and a tutor.  This tutor isn't responsible for being the "expert" who imparts all of her knowledge to the students, rather she is a fellow learner that comes alongside the young people and models learning and helps lead discussions. 

Six seminars are covered each week, and they are all so beautifully woven together and they all point the students back to their Creator. 

  • Latin

  • American Literature and Persuasive Essay Writing

  • Free Market Economics and American Government

  • Physical Science

  • Drama and Music Theory

  • Algebra

The students are accountable to each other and to their tutor - and this accountability spurs them to do their best work. 

The theme for this year is Discipline Brings Freedom.

Homeschool High School with Classical Conversations Challenge

When I asked Anna's tutor to describe Challenge I in a nutshell - this is what she said:

I like Challenge 1 because the students showcase their budding independence. They have been preparing and practicing in A and B to take the lead in their own education. Challenge 1 takes the next step in the process. It is the first level where workload and effort is recorded for future college admissions. This level also opens the students’ eyes to some of the realities of our fallen world as they transition from children to young adults.
— Challenge 1 tutor

A Typical Week in Challenge 1

Anna attends class each Tuesday.  She plays on a tennis team that practices every Tuesday after CC - which a great way to get some energy out after a full day of academics! 

On Wednesday morning she makes a planning sheet.  She looks in her Challenge 1 guide to assess what is due the following week, then she schedules the work onto a planning sheet.

This skill - of discerning, prioritizing, and planning her activities - has been one of the most valuable things in Challenge.  She knows what is expected of her and is in control of when to complete the assignments. Sometimes it goes well, other times it does not. But through all things we are learning and growing. 

Homeschool High School with Classical Conversations Challenge I

Drama/Music Theory:

I love Classical Conversations' careful incorporation of the fine arts into all areas of their curriculum. This year the students read The Taming of the Shrew for drama and now move on to music theory in the second semester. 

Anna is my piano player. She loves music and says she wants to be a Music Therapist one day. 

This semester she is using her expertise in music theory to help lead the class in a new study - Math in Motion: First Steps in Music Theory. Her tutor has let her take the lead with the class. Anna helps explain new grammar and has been making up her own review games to help her peers. She LOVES this! 

This week she completed the theory exercises in her book and continued to plan review games for the class. She also practiced playing the example hymns from the book.

 American Literature and Persuasive Essay Writing


The American Literature selections for the Challenge 1 years are carefully selected. Most books are then followed with a persuasive essay on an issue of the student's choosing from the book. Because these kids have been using The Lost Tools of Writing since Challenge A, they are becoming quite adept at writing persuasive essays.  

Anna just finished a persuasive essay after reading To Kill a Mockingbird, and is starting Up From Slavery.  She's also beginning to compose an issue and start an essay for Born Again.  

Good stuff - not exactly what I was doing in the ninth grade.

The literature list for Challenge 1 is impressive. And yes, they read ALL OF THIS in one year. 


The surprise of the year has been how much Anna enjoys science. 

The text they are using is Apologia's Exploring Creation Through Physical Science. She goes straight through the textbook, completing the study guides for each module and taking tests. The students complete experiments and labs in class.

(Again, I grade all tests and study guides. The tutor does NOT do this... the parent retains all grading rights!)

This week Anna continued to complete notecards from her sources for the science research paper. This research paper will be worked on for the entire semester. I love that they are walked through the research paper process over a long period of time. 


Latin is one area where we have veered from the Challenge guide. 

Classical Conversations suggests Henle Latin, and we abide by that suggestion. It is a rigorous Latin text that takes discipline and perseverance to complete. 

I wasn't able to devote the time to learning Latin alongside Anna (which is really necessary for success in Latin without a traditional teacher), so we made the decision to enroll her in Henle Latin I through Memoria Press Online Academy.

Anna's class meets online once a week for 90 minutes. She is completely accountable to that teacher.  All quizzes and tests are completed online. Anna keeps up with the daily exercises and is graded on in class participation and test grades. 

This has worked PERFECTLY.  Anna benefits from a Latin expert and also from having the experience of strict accountability to a "teacher". 

Anna still participates in the Henle Latin seminar in class - she is just working at a different pace than her classmates. 

I love that we can customize her Challenge 1 year to fit our family's needs. 

Homeschool High School with Classical Conversations Challenge Program

Free Market Economics & Debate

The first semester was spent reading ORIGINAL American documents and annotating them. Anna also created a timeline of important events in American history. 

(We then traveled to Washington, DC as a family to reinforce this learning -- what an experience!)

In the second semester, using Whatever Happened to Penny Candy and A Bluestocking Guide: Economics, the Challenge I students are tackling some hard to understand concepts. 

When Anna and I sat down to talk about her assignments this week we were looking at The Big Mac Index and going over economics terms I hadn't heard since college. 

She is also following a stock portfolio each week - she invested $10,000 (imaginary!) in the stock market three weeks ago, and will track her stocks' progress until the end of the semester.

In addition to this, the students are working on a budgeting and personal finance project.  Anna will choose a profession - determine the salary she will be making - and then create a working budget based on that. 

How cool is that? 

Also this week, Anna is preparing to present her IE - a 3-5 minute memorized Individual Event. She has chosen a sweet AA Milne poem, "Teddy Bear", and is having fun with this. 

Algebra I

Classical Conversations recommends Saxon Algebra I. 

After many frustrations with the upper levels of Saxon, Anna switched to Mr. D Math. 

I've written before about Mr. D. He is my math savior!  This is an area where we needed an expert to HELP us.

Anna takes Algebra every Monday afternoon with Mr. D and several other students. They meet online for an hour.  I HIGHLY RECOMMED Mr. D's math curriculum.  Read my review if you want to learn more! 

The beauty of Challenge is that Anna can still participate in the math conversations they have each week in her Challenge I class. They are discussing CONCEPTS and students take turns leading the class with different ways to solve problems.  Anna has benefitted greatly from her experience with Mr. D, and hasn't suffered at all during math seminar at CC. 

Weekly Check-Out

Every Monday afternoon at 3 p.m. (yes, we have a time on the calendar for this) Anna and I sit down and have a check-out for the following day. 

We go through the guide together and check off her assignments, discuss any areas of concern, proofread papers, and just assess the week in general. Check outs in Challenge A and Challenge B were sometimes rough. It's a learning process.

Now, however, check out meetings are running smoothly.  Anna is generally well prepared and we have good discussions about  the stock market, music theory, American Literature, and debate topics. 

I never imagined homeschooling a high schooler in the first place, and I am constantly AMAZED at what a beautiful, God-centered education my child is receiving - with Classical Conversations as our partner in education. 

Ultimately, that we have the freedom to choose what works best for our children and for our families.  Homeschooling high school doesn't have to be scary. There are so many options out there. 

Do you homeschool a high schooler? Do you have any anxiety THINKING about homeschooling a high schooler?  I'd love to know. 


Homeschool High School with Classical Conversations Challenge Program

Collage Friday

Collage Friday at Homegrown Learners

Join me on alternating Fridays for a wrap up of the week - or just to share pertinent thoughts that have been rambling in your head during the past week.

Be sure to include your photo collages!

Then, visit other bloggers that have linked and leave them a supportive comment.  I love the Collage Friday community!

Add your link using the widget below. Additionally, if you'd like to join further, use the hashtag #collagefriday on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter. 

5 Tips for Lefties

If you have a lefty, you know certain things can be somewhat challenging. 

Spiral notebooks, three ring binders, dry erase boards, and even traditional pencils can present unique challenges for our southpaws.

There is, however, also a great sense of pride that comes along with being part of the lefty club.

I've found that a few simple adaptations make life for my lefty much easier. 

After homeschooling a lefty for the past seven years, I'd like to share the tricks  we use to simply our life.  

Might I also recommend The Left Stuff?  It's a great read that gives lots of insight into left handedness. 

5 Tips for Lefties

1. The White Board Flip

This is so simple. 

Have your lefty write on the white board as normal. Then - flip the board upside down and have them write in another column. 

In this way they won't erase what they have already written. 

5 Tips for Lefties

2. Wet Erase Markers

A leftie's hard work on a white board is less likely to be erased by their left hand if you use Wet Erase Markers

We use these Wet Erase Markers and they eliminate MUCH frustration. 

*For younger children you can also use Dry Erase Crayons for the same results. 

5 Tips for Lefties


3. Top Spiral Bound Workbooks

You can create your own workbook for your leftie.

Simply take your child's workbook to the office supply store, ask them to unbind it and then add coil binding at the TOP of the pages. 

I love our Prescripts books from Classical Conversations because they are already bound this way! 

5 Tips for Lefties

I've also seen these lefty spiral bound notebooks. Who knew? 

Of course, you can also purchase composition notebooks, which are great for lefties! 

4. Use Filler Paper in Binders

We use traditional three ring binder with filler paper. 

When my lefty does his work he takes the paper OUT of the binder to complete the assignment, and then returns it to the binder when he is finished. 

This way all of his work stays together and his left hand isn't bumping into the rings. 

OR, use the same principle as #3 and write on the paper horizontally in the three ring binder.

5 Tips for Lefties

(And here's an unrelated tip -- use graph paper for math and you have no issues with the way the lines run.)

5. Don't Make a Big Deal

To be perfectly honest, we've never given being left handed much attention in our house. 

I did have one well meaning relative tell me early on that I should "take that crayon our of his left hand and put it in his right". I simply smiled and moved on. 

God made my guy left handed. End of story.

If something is a problem for my lefty we try to work it out. Some things he has learned to do with both hands (cutting, computer trackpad, eating), and I actually think that being a lefty works to his advantage!

Do you have a lefty?  Care to share a tip with us? 

5 Tips for Lefties

Getting Started With LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 - Gyro Boy

Learning to build and program with LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 has been of such TREMENDOUS benefit to my son (now 11). 

His LEGO obsession goes back many years, and it has been such fun chronicling it and providing LEGO learning materials here at Homegrown Learners. 

I get so many questions about what Mindstorms are and HOW to get started with them. This is the first in a series of posts about robots my son is building, resources he is using, and simple tips for successful building. 

First, if you'd like an OVERVIEW of Mindstorms, read LEGO Mindstorms EV3 in Your Homeschool, then come back here.  

*This post does not contain any information about First LEGO League. We are simply learning about EV3 and having fun right now. 

Keep in mind all of our building is done with the EV3 set through LEGO® Education -- NOT the retail set. The retail set targets home users and the education set targets educational users. (read more here) We chose the LEGO® Education set for its obvious learning value and educational software. 

Getting Started With LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 - Gyro Boy

LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 Building Instructions

The building instructions for the robots in the EV3 sets come within the software. 

We have also found instructions online at Robot Square

If your LEGO lover hasn't done a lot of building with Technic blocks, I would recommend letting them build some of the robots first and not even worry about the programming. My son has built some of the robots multiple times, just because he enjoys building. 

I let my son borrow my iPad to view the instructions. A robot normally takes him a couple hours, which I consider time WELL SPENT! 

Building with LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3

 *A note about set storage:  We use the container the sets come in, as well as a tackle box to organize the smaller parts. (We have this tackle box and LOVE IT!)  We own both the Core and Expansion sets, so there are a lot of pieces. 

*A note about the price:  Yes, these sets are pricey. Yes, they are investment.  Yes, they are WORTH it if you have a child who loves robotics and learns from them. I consider this our STEM curriculum for the next several years. 

Programming with LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3

My best advice is to just jump in and START.  Let your child (and you) play around with the software.  

The software has many good tutorials - just explore these!  You will be glad you invested the time.  Here's a shot of what it looks like:

LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 programming

It took my son several months before he was quite comfortable programming on his own. 

Following are some helpful tutorials we found: 

Getting Started with LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 - Gyro Boy

The Gyro Boy

The Gyro Boy is made with the LEGO® Education EV3 Core Set.  My son built and programmed this guy. 

This model includes 4 sensors, but Grant just programmed using the touch and color sensors. (He watched this tutorial which helped explain how to program the sensors.)

Here's what he came up with... no help from an adult.

I'm impressed with how achievable these projects are!  

Other Helpful Resources

We've recently discovered a series of books from No Starch Press - all dealing with LEGOS and creativity.  

Many of these just spark building ideas. I like this because ultimately I would love for my son to begin creating his OWN robots and models to program! 

Helpful Resources for Programming LEGO Mindstorms EV3

Stay tuned for more videos and LEGO® Education Mindstorms EV3 tips ... I'm just a homeschool mom trying to keep up with the interests of her children.  What a fun job THAT is!!  

Do you have a LEGO lover in your house?  Are they into Mindstorms yet?  

LEGO Education Mindstorms EV3 Gyro Boy - Getting Started with LEGO Mindstorms