Students are preparing for the return of the Speech Festival! Due to continued government restrictions in California, we are unable to offer a festival for kindergarten through fifth-grade students. However, students will still present their selections in the classroom.
Kindergarten students choose poetry selections learned in class, and students in first through fourth grade recite poems of their choice. Fifth graders choose speeches or speech excerpts from literature or history. Middle schoolers write and present their original speeches.
The Speech Festival is a wonderful opportunity for students to exhibit their mastery of the art of oratory. Students are learning how to effectively convey their ideas to others—a skill which will continue to serve them well throughout life.
Teaching children how to think, speak, and write was once a clear objective of a school. In recent years, however, it has become obvious that some schools are teaching children what to think instead of how to think. That is not the case at Challenger School today, nor has it ever been over the last six decades.
Teaching children how to think—using logic and rationality to identify, integrate, and connect information that is presented to them—is an essential focus at Challenger.
In Challenger classrooms, we teach conceptually—part of which means we not only teach content but also the reasons why the content is applicable. For example, preschoolers can easily get bored learning an endless list of letters unless they understand the purpose. As a result, in preschool we begin by teaching the sounds of five letters (m, a, s, f, t) and show students how those letters can form simple words (map, Sam, fat). We then have preschoolers who are thrilled to be learning letters because doing so enables them to read.
In elementary classes, students can memorize the times tables, but unless they know why and how multiplication works (as a faster method of addition), they cannot explicitly expand the knowledge down the road.
Eighth-grade students will submit their Anthem essays to teachers this month. They also may choose to submit their essays to the Anthem Essay Contest. This contest is sponsored by the Ayn Rand Institute and will challenge students’ critical thinking and composition skills. Anthem tells the story of what the world would look like if collectivism were taken to its logical conclusion—all innovation and progress has stopped and even the word “I” has ceased to exist. Winners will be announced in the fall!
Challenger School will be administering the Iowa Assessments standardized tests for students in the coming weeks.
Our students have a history of performing very well on national standardized tests. We are confident that this year’s results will be impressive, too.
Tips for Test Days
Below is a list of things your child can do to be more focused and alert on test day.
Next month, many Challenger eighth graders will be touring exciting American historic landmarks and sites from Boston to Gettysburg. This trip offers our soon-to-be graduates a memorable and valuable educational experience.
It can be inspiring for students to personally see and connect themselves to significant events in America’s history.
Has your child submitted an entry to the Comic Contest yet? All second-through eighth-grade students are eligible. Entries must be submitted to Marketing@ChallengerSchool.com by March 3, 2023. Each entry should include the child’s full name, grade, and campus.
We can’t wait to see the fantastic submissions!
In concurrence with St. Patrick’s Day, Challenger preschool students will learn about Irish folklore during the month of March.
You will receive a report of your child’s academic progress this month. Our students have accomplished a great deal already this year and are continuing to learn and achieve.
Please make arrangements for your child’s care during Spring Break. Region dates are:
For those who need it for their tax returns, Challenger’s tax ID is 47-1405971.
When students understand the reason for what they are learning, it resonates, and students can better apply the concepts to their past and current knowledge base. As a student’s ability to think logically and rationally improves, so does his or her capability to discover and validate information. Consequently, students can then independently verbalize and compose their thoughts into their own words with clarity and precision. This in turn enables students to retain and extend their knowledge. It’s a beautiful process.
One of the teaching methods we use to further develop confident, independent thinking is to have our teachers occasionally and purposefully present incorrect information. For example, a preschool teacher may teach, “E says Ooo and Ahh” and delight when a student joyfully replies with a resounding “No!” The responding preschooler is not only confident of the knowledge that E says Eee and Ehh but also in his or her ability to think and speak independently (and is so proud to have corrected the teacher!). This response is exactly what we strive to see instead of having the child blindly accept what the teacher says even when the child knows the information is incorrect.
This pure intellectual development can only take place within an environment of freedom. If children are taught that they must think, speak, and write only as they are told to, they can become like robots and may not develop into independent thinkers. This is why students do not flourish academically when they are taught only by memorizing echoed facts that have no connections or integration to life and other subjects.
We provide ample opportunities for elementary and middle school students to practice and demonstrate their developing thinking, speaking, and writing abilities. In addition to the reading of thought-provoking novels, engaging classroom discussions, and writing of essays, the Speech Festival and Young Author competitions are greatly anticipated highlights of the year.
So the next time you get peppered with questions from your child, guide the discussion with encouraging how and why questions that test his or her logic. Recognize that the process of questioning, validating, and connecting information is integral to helping your child learn how to think. Rest assured, we’ll continue to do the same.
2021 National Blue Ribbon School