Frank Talk About Ensuring Success in Challenge

Avril started Challenge B yesterday. 

This morning of the day after our community day, we sat down with her guide and her schedule and portioned the work out day by day by day... 

We left time for volunteer work, piano practice, art classes, doctor appointments, etc. 

It took more than an hour to get it all planned out. 

It always does take that long to schedule the week. 

But I have found that this time scheduling makes all the difference. 

Planning like this the morning of the first day right after community usually means: 

My kids get a good start on the work for the week; They aren't waiting around a half a day, or a full day, or a full day and a half until they start doing their work. 

Hardly anything ever gets left until the last minute, so it's a fairly stress-free week. The work is portioned out evenly. Even the day before community feels normal, sometimes even light, as far as work load goes. 

My kids actually end up with quite a few hours of free time everyday and several hours of free time on weekends.  

And most remarkable of all, my kids usually manage to do almost all the work in the guide with very little need for scaling. 

I credit the scheduling for all of this.  

Because my kids are regular kids. 

I find that scheduling is one of the most important things I do as a Challenge parent.  

When my daughter gets a little farther into this Challenge year, I will give her the opportunity to plan her schedule herself, and then I'll check it. 

I did that last year after a few months of doing the scheduling with her. 

And by the time she's in upper Challenge levels, particularly Challenges 3 and 4, she'll be scheduling for herself almost entirely. 

I'll still "inspect what I expect," but at that point, she'll be almost an adult, so I'll give her lots of freedom to decide for herself and give her enough rope to hang herself, so to speak, and institute some tough consequences if enough of the work isn't done. 

But I'll wait till she's old enough to actually understand that the failure of judgement and action is hers, because she will have had several years of success in Challenge when her mom was helping her schedule..

That's what I did with my oldest. 

But this daughter is not ready for that much freedom yet, and she won't be for years. 

Even if I didn't feel that I had to help her schedule her work, I would probably want to. 

Reading the guide in detail and helping her plan day by day, hour by hour, makes me aware of what is going on. 

It allows for fellowship and coaching and encouragement and sometimes rebuke and admonishment. 

But we actually laughed a lot today as we talked through everything. 

This skill of scheduling work and life will come in handy. 

My oldest is off to college, and she's scheduling everything for herself now. 

But she's been reading the Challenge guide, which is basically a collection of syllabi, and portioning work since she was twelve-thirteen, so she was good and ready to do that. 

After ten years in and around the Challenge program, I find that the parents who don't inform themselves about what is in their student's guide and who put all or most of the responsibility on their students to read the guide and figure out how to do it all are the people who end up most disappointed in their student and/ or with the Challenge program. 

They usually have to leave. 

When you ask the non-schedulers where they are going, the "better fit" for their student is always a learning environment that provides scheduling, structure, oversight, involvement, accountability- all the things involved in scheduling.  

Of course, people leave Challenge for lots of other valid reasons. 

But those people usually know why they are leaving, and they leave quietly without bitterness or disillusionment, understanding it's not Challenge's fault or their kid's fault. 

It's the non-schedulers who unfortunately seem to suspect something's inherently wrong with their kid and/or wrong with the whole program. 

But when a parent doesn't schedule, it is not the student's failure or the failure of the Challenge program. 

Leaving any teenager to figure things out for themselves, especially as many things as they have to figure out in a Challenge guide, is like tying a millstone around a little one's legs and throwing him in the deep end of the pond then blaming him or the millstone for his drowning. 

Some kids are exceptional. 

In my time, I've seen some of those, too, and I'm always impressed with the students who are self-motivated enough to do all or even most of the work independent of their mom's oversight.  

But most regular kids just sink without this kind of help, support, and accountability. 

My kids are the regular sort. 

So we plan and of course, we work the plan and then I check up to see the plan is mostly followed.  

So my advice to young parents who are still aware that they are weak enough human beings to actually ruin all their plans to homeschool through highschool if they don't get enough things right, who still actually hope their student can get all the way through Challenge, is to stop thinking or expecting their regular kid to be exceptionally, supernaturally mature for their age, and just sit with their student and schedule and then check up after them, of course. 

It's the most important thing I do to ensure success in the Challenge program.  

Scheduling is the greatest commandment, and the second is like unto it: Check up to see the plan got followed. 



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