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Why Challenger Students Are Successful
Why do discerning parents decide to enroll their children at Challenger? It’s simple, really. People choose Challenger because we get results.
Students at Challenger are confident and responsible. Preschoolers know their letters and sounds. First graders learn how to classify animals. Third graders are poised public speakers, fifth graders learn how to prove the Pythagorean Theorem, and eighth graders are able to explain that inflation is a hidden tax. Challenger students are excited about school and love to learn.
Parents and teachers alike are drawn to Challenger School because they recognize the Challenger difference and are enthusiastic about giving students the best education possible—the very means to living a happy and successful life.
So what is behind Challenger students’ success?
Motivating Students with Achievement and Fun
Children have free will, and they can choose whether or not to pay attention. Educators must motivate students to help them choose well. How do teachers at Challenger help students build the foundations of a good education?
Unfortunately, students are not always motivated by abstract, future rewards, like the reward of becoming secure in the strength of their own minds or of building self-worth through achievement. Children often have a short range view of what is important; they understand what they need now but have a limited concept of what comes later. Challenger harnesses the internal motivations of students by recognizing that little children want to be big and grown up, to be smart like Mom or Dad. Students of all ages want to know things. We show students that they can know.
The best way to convince students to do the work necessary for success is to make learning fun. At Challenger, we use age-appropriate activities like puppet play, drama, music, and games to gain and keep students’ attention and help them concentrate and stay on task. From preschool visits from “Letter Lady” to third grade 16th century role-play to middle school entrepreneurial projects, our curriculum piques students’ interests and keeps them intrigued while they learn.
When children see learning as fun and experience the joy of achievement, their motivation only increases.
Building Connections through Conceptual Teaching
Children and adults both learn through concepts. As adults, we start with what we know and incorporate new ideas from there. Information is only useful if it can be remembered, connected to other bodies of knowledge and applied to real-world situations. Conceptual teaching delivers information in a way that encourages long- term understanding.
What does it mean to teach conceptually?
When Challenger teachers present an idea, they describe it using many examples. They guide students to use what they already know to analyze the examples and determine their essential similarities. When students can identify the unifying principle that links the examples together, they have begun to integrate the new concept into their knowledge bank. Read more about Conceptual Teaching here.
There is very little rote memorization at Challenger. We teach concepts, not isolated facts. By helping children learn to think, we help them understand the world.
Managing Classrooms for Learning
At Challenger, we manage classes for maximum learning. Students are taught routines that help them stay within a safety zone and eliminate unnecessary distractions. Teachers don’t baby students, instead relating to them on an intellectual level and using cues like, “I like the way you are ready to listen, Janie! Thank you, Sarthak, Braden, and Lily.”
At so many other schools, behavior management is not the focus, and children are not taught responsibility or self-reliance. They are expected to behave because an authority figure says so. Challenger School encourages students to think about their actions and the deserved results. See our article about Positive Discipline here. Children learn to respect others and take responsibility for their own actions.
Challenger is different. Responsibility and self-reliance produce an environment where students can learn. Children build self-esteem by exercising control over their own lives.
Expecting the Best from Students
Finally, Challenger teachers expect students to excel. We recognize the incredible potential of students and challenge them to do their best. We understand the developing brain and don’t underestimate what children are capable of. That’s why we begin teaching phonics, the gateway to reading, to children as young as three years old.
There is a difference between challenge and pressure, however. People experience pressure when they are asked to accomplish something for which they have not been prepared. If you were not a chef, but were required to produce a gourmet meal without the skills to accomplish it, you would be put under great pressure.
An integral part of our philosophy is that students must be challenged with achievable steps. They experience the joy of achievement when, with hard work, they realize success. With this motivation, they are ready for and will even welcome more challenge! Read more about how Challenger equips students—without stress—for success here.
At Challenger, parents and teachers alike should take pride in the work they do for students. Every day, our children come to school and learn to be responsible, careful thinkers—because we make learning fun, teach conceptually, encourage self-management, and expect the best from students.
Guiding a child in his or her pursuit of happiness is truly admirable. I am proud to work with the parents and staff of Challenger, whose hard work, dedication, and desire to improve children’s lives contribute immensely to the success of our students.
Hugh Gourgeon, Challenger CEO
2021 National Blue Ribbon School