Monday, March 7, 2016

Rethinking our Charlotte Mason year

I emailed an online friend awhile ago and we chatted a bit about our homeschools and the feeling of being a *little* overwhelmed J  And I made the following comment to her:  we haven’t been narrating everything under the sun.

Now, before you throw anything at me, let me say that I understand and completely agree with Charlotte Mason’s method of narration.  I realized later that the reason I said that we haven’t been narrating everything in our curriculum is because we’re behind. 

I felt that I needed a picture somewhere in this post :)
 Then I got to thinking, why are we behind?  I read to my dd6 every day, at least twice a day (which is supposed to be the norm for year one), from our school books and she narrates.  The process lasts 15 to 20 minutes, which is the recommended amount of time for such a young child to spend on any one subject.  So why aren’t we getting through all the readings for the week?

Because my child can’t.  And that’s okay.  

Beauty and the Beast is a long fairy tale for a 6 year old to narrate.  So is Aladdin.  And the Tales from Shakespeare stories.  And the stories from Parables from Nature.  At least they’re long for my child to narrate.  We have to read and narrate a paragraph or two at a time (depending on how long the paragraph is, of course).  And again, that’s okay.

I love what Nicole says on her blog:  you have to fit the schedule/curriculum to the child, not the child to the curriculum.  It’s about the child.  I think CM was definitely about the child, and more concerned about an appropriate amount of time spent on a certain subject (depending on the age of the child), rather than getting through a certain number of pages.  Because if it’s about the latter, it’s not really about the child anymore.

And besides, we all know that our children are not going to be able to read every wonderful book in the world, and are not going to learn everything there is to learn in the world.  There will be gaps somewhere.  No one is complete in their education.  If they were, they would be on the same plane as God, and that’s impossible (and we shouldn’t strive for that anyways!).  We ultimately want our children to fall in love with learning, to pursue a relationship with God, and to pursue truth, goodness, and beauty.  How each child gets there will be different.

So, gleaning lots of wisdom from Christy Hissong in her two great posts (scheduling for peace and scheduling for peace revisited), and from Nicole, I’ve decided to cut back – not necessarily on the books, but on our schedule.  I’m going to take the AO year one books and stick them into our daily schedule, and not worry about if we finish what the AO schedule says we’re supposed to finish for that week.  We’re going to spend the suggested amount of time for each reading, getting through what we can, and the next week continue where we left off.

I think having a schedule is important, but what I do not mean when I say schedule is a schedule with times of the day.  For example, at 9:00 we do this and at 9:20 we do this, and so on and so forth.

By schedule I mean three things:
1.  Knowing what to do
2.  Knowing for how long to do each thing
3.  Knowing when to do each thing, i.e. what comes next

The times of day that each thing happens really depends on each family and how they can get each thing accomplished.  For me in particular, at this season of my life we usually cannot sit down at some time in the morning, before lunch, and accomplish everything in one sitting.  Things spill over into the afternoon on most days and that’s okay.  (Which, on a side note, I kind of like because I think it shows my children that learning is a part of our life and happens at any time, not just at a certain time of day.)

I’ll be back in a day or two to share our particular family’s schedule, so stay tuned!


  1. I really liked reading through this!!! So true that each child is different and we have to look at the individually!

    1. Thanks for reading, Amy! I think I knew that I need to understand my children's individuality, but it didn't really sink in until we were finally in the trenches. That's one thing I've learned - no matter how much you plan, things will most likely not go the way you expect! But again, that's okay!!

  2. Love this! It reminds me of Loop Scheduling. I really like that idea. I think it fits well into the idea of following a schedule. Instead of getting through a certain number of pages each day, you just read for the allotted time. :) Love it!