Monday, November 3, 2014

Pulling Your Charlotte Mason Education Together...

The 11th DVD in the Simply Charlotte Mason Learning and Living series is titled "Putting It All Together".  Shafer reviewed some basic CM principles including short lessons, the habit of attention, and varying the order of subjects.  She then talked about scheduling your day.  The information was practical.  A couple of tips I found helpful and currently use when scheduling our school day are, work in outside commitments first and schedule everything else around them, and alter book learning with oral lessons.

For example, we currently travel Monday and Wednesday afternoons for Ruben's tutoring.  When scheduling, I purposely allowed for a lighter load on those days knowing we would need to be done early.  I also scheduled a light day or catch up time on Fridays honoring The Farmer's wish for a four day school week.  Sometimes our "school" spills over into our everyday life, including Saturday and Sunday.  In our home, "Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."  Though we do try to get the bulk of our book learning done before noon on the weekdays, education has become our way of life and does not fit into a Monday through Friday box. 

Regarding varying the order of subjects, Charlotte altered oral subjects and book learning subjects.  You can view sample schedules from Parents' Union School on the Ambleside website by clicking here.  You will notice by looking at Monday on the Class I schedule, which I assume to be early elementary, the students started with Old Testament.  This would have been a Bible reading to the students, followed by oral narration (book learning).  Then the students moved to Printing (handwriting), then Poem Repetition (oral subject), and French, which also would have been oral at this age, listening and speaking.  At 10:00, we see Number, which was math (book learning), followed by Drill or Dancing.  I assume this to be Swedish Drill which involved movement.  At 10:50, the students practiced their reading lessons (combination of book learning and hands on), followed by Natural History or as we say, Science, which again was more than likely a read aloud with narration.  By varying the order of subjects, Charlotte naturally encouraged the use of different parts of the brain for learning.

The photo above shows cards that I downloaded from the Simply Charlotte Mason site here.   You need to scroll down to "Planning" and click "Download your own copy of the subject cards used in the video".  I printed them on cardstock for durability.  You can also make headings on Post It Notes, rather than printing the cards, and use them the same way.   I found there were not enough of some subjects and too many of others so you may prefer to write your own.  For example, our family loves history and we prefer to study it 4-5 days per week, however, there were only 3 history cards on the print out, so I created extra history cards on index cards.  One other note regarding the cards, there are only cards for group or family studies.  Things like Math and Reading instruction or other individual subjects are not included.

The idea of the cards is to lay them out to get ideas for scheduling and to practice varying the order of subjects.  I am a big picture kind of person so this was helpful to me.  I like to be able to see it and move it around before it's "written in stone", for lack of a better phrase.  Varying the order of subjects is a brilliant concept to me and it seems to work well, particularly with Ruben.  I've also been very cognoscente of using short lessons with him.

You can view our term one schedules and checklists on some of these former posts...

Year 5 Sample Schedule

Year 4 Sample Schedule

Year 4 & 5 Checklists

I can tell you some of the best laid plans don't always come to fruition.  We have already scrapped a couple of subjects on the plan because I wasn't organized enough or didn't make time to gather the resources or they just plain didn't work for that child.  Riley loves her checklist and Ruben despises it.  He already gave it back stating it was too confusing.  I think the key thing when planning no matter what method you use, is flexibility, let your plan be your slave and not your master.  If it's not working, try something else. 

One last resource I'd like to mention regarding planning is also from Simply Charlotte Mason.  It's titled Planning Your Charlotte Mason Education in Five Simple Steps.  I purchased an older copy a couple years back and it's been very helpful. 

What sorts of resources or ideas to you use to plan your CM education?  Feel free to leave comments below. 

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