Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Our First CM Inspired Schedule

A few thoughts about our schedule...
  • Most lessons are 15 minutes to align with CM's ideas that lessons for younger children should be short. Lessons are also varied; I tried to alternate between seat work and activities we could do on the floor or snuggled on the couch allowing him to switch between lessons that require pen and paper with ones that would not. He tires easily when a lot of writing is required and this way I feel I can still require excellence in all his penmanship since we will be doing only short bursts of writing at any given time. See my last post (10th paragraph) for a quote from Vol. 1, Home Education on the subjects of short and varied lessons. Below is a quote from Miss Mason about requiring excellence of our children.
A child should not be assigned work that he isn't capable of doing perfectly, and perfect work should be expected as a matter of course. For example, if he is supposed to write a series of of strokes and is allowed to turn in a page of sloppy stroke-marks unevenly spaced and sloping irregularly, then his moral integrity is compromised from getting by on less than his best. Instead, just assign him six strokes to copy instead of a full page. Require that they be six perfect strokes, evenly spaced with uniform slant. If one isn't right, have him show you what's wrong with it and let him re-do it. If he can't do six perfect ones today, let him try again tomorrow, and again the next day. When he finally writes six perfect strokes, celebrate the occasion! Let him feel a sense of triumph...Let everything that he does be done well.
  • I did not schedule an official morning break into our day. Thatch does better with several five to ten minute breathers rather than one 30 minute break. A longer time allows him time to get engaged in an activity that will then necessitate me pulling him from it causing sadness and frustration on his part (and sometimes mine too after dealing with the drama ;). Short breaks give just enough time to go to the restroom, grab a drink and visit a little before jumping right back into the next lesson. Breaks should naturally occur at the end of the lessons I scheduled for a full 30 minutes like reading, history and science. I also allotted extra time in these lessons to build in buffer zones since we have lots of distractions from little brothers.
  • Prior to adopting a CM inspired schedule we were covering only six subjects per day: math (an hour or more due mostly to dawdling - although I have learned that as a right-brained learner he does take longer to process), grammar, spelling, handwriting, reading and Spanish. Yes, I confess, we have not done any real science in an entire year and only enough history to fill a tiny cup. :( With this schedule we are intentionally covering sixteen subjects in the course of a week's time: Scripture Memory, Bible, Character Training (Virtue of the Week), Math, Reading (T to me), Handwriting, History, Art Appreciation (Picture Study). Geography, Science, Spanish, Spelling, Poetry, Music Appreciation (Classical Music Listening), Literature (me reading to him) and PE! While some of these subjects are not recognized as such in a traditional school setting, they are very much in a CM style education and one of the things I love most about it.
  • Fridays are still mostly empty because I will need to develop a workable plan for those days. One of the things I hope to include is a weekly art lesson. We will still be using Draw Squad but possibly switching to online lessons available for a very low price right now through The Homeschool Buyers Co-op Group Buys only until Jan. 15th. Online lessons are probably not in step with the true heart behind Miss Mason's ideals but right now if it gets done and my boys are learning, I am happy being that I am completely art-phobic. I also hope to include weekly nature walks and two field trips a month - one to the zoo and one to a museum.
I'll post my first "Weekly Report" at the end of this week to share how it's going. Today was our first day and things could not have gone any better! I am so very excited. :)



Karen said...

Here's a post about how we do picture study (or artist study):

We've slacked off on our "Fine Art Fridays" this school year, but I hope to start again here in January.

Your schedule looks great!

Amy said...

That is a very ambitious schedule! I enjoy reading your blog and appreciate you sharing what works and what hasn't.

Jennefer said...

Amy, your comment made me smile b/c if I would have seen this schedule on another blog I would have thought the same thing. :) Yet today went better than just about any day in the past year has! Thatcher loved the short lessons and honestly I did as well. It kept things moving along and fresh. He couldn't wait to see what would be next and his attention was so much better focused knowing he would only be on any given topic for a short time. Miss Mason was definitely right about that one!

I realize we are in a honeymoon phase for sure. Check back and see if things are going this smoothly next week! :)

Thanks for leaving a comment.

Tracy said...

Looks like a great plan! Glad it's working for you!

Sheryl said...

This is so exciting. It seems like you are finding your way or at least the pebble path that you want yourself and the boys to take. Its funny. I have seem a slow progression of our studies working themselves into a very Masonesque style. I don't think I really knew what was happening but it was happening on its own accord. Could this be because it really is the natural way to learn and teach. Hmmmm. Take Care,

JESSICA said...

Hi Jennefer!

I just wanted to say that I LOVE your blog and have been a lurker for a while, but decided to come out of lurk-dom and introduce myself since I have just started my own blog! Your boys are precious! We are also a mix of classical/Charlotte Mason right now. Not sure what I am going to do next year, but am praying about it and researching. Your blog has been such an encouragement to me as a newbie homeschooling mom! : )

Pam said...


I am too have been in and out of your blog over the past few months, but your recent posts have really caught my attention. I am beginning to wonder if this isn't a route God is asking me to consider for my boys when they are of school age. I had one question about the schedule...what is Mastery Inactivity? I have never heard those terms before. Thanks for sharing with us.

jennybell said...

I love reading about your homeschooling journey. Would you mind sharing what resource your "virtues" of the week come from? Also, what is "Mastering Inactivity"? Thanks!

Jennefer said...

Pam and jennybell,

I still have quite a bit to learn about CM but my best nutshell definition from what I know so far is that masterly inactivity is basically letting the child alone - allowing them time away from the microscope of mommy's ever watchful eye. I have had Thatcher create a list of things he is interested in pursuing independently and he will use some of that time for those endeavors. So far he has told me he wants to learn how to play chess and jacks. :)

Here is a link to a chapter in Vol. 3 of CM's original works (I prefer the Modern English Translation so that's the one I linked) where you can read her words on the subject - so much more eloquently stated than mine!


Also, here is an article from Simply Charlotte Mason on the subject. If you like it you can click at the top to view all articles that have been written on the subject.


Thanks for the questions! Keep 'em coming. It challenges me to get a better grasp on where we are going!!!


Jennefer said...


I forgot to answer your question about where I am getting my ideas for "Virtue of the Week." I will write an entire post about this soon but here is the short version...

I am starting with the nine "Fruit of the Spirit" listed in Galatians 5: 22-23. We will spend one week on each fruit. Then we will go back and finish God's Wisdom for Little Boys (There is a version for little girls as well.) This is an excellent book for young children (at least for my purposes!)

Here is the Amazon link to God's Wisdom:


On this page are several other wonderful books you could use as well. We have Susan Hunt's ABC Bible Verses and plan on using that in the near future. And Big Truths for Little Kids (also by Susan Hunt) is one I plan on looking at soon to see if I want to add it to our library. I typically love anything her!!!

Jennefer said...

Above should say, "...anything by her."

I really need to learn to proofread better! ;)

argsmommy said...

I'm anxious to hear how the week went! And I'm impressed at how quickly you've been able to incorporate CM ideas into your homeschooling. You must have been busy over the Christmas break. : )


Shay Ballew said...

Hey Jen! So interesting to see that you've decided to go a CM route now. Hope it goes well for you! shay