Saturday, September 3, 2016

Planning a *Peaceful* Charlotte Mason-Inspired Day

School starts for us on Tuesday!  I am looking forward to this new year.  After a planning frenzy of looking through resources, pondering history rotations, buying books, and even creating a detailed timetable, I started interjecting the sanity: cutting the massive booklist down, down, down....and reverting to index cards (I came up with this system last year!). Then I just wrote the routine down on a piece of paper, along with dot symbols to correspond with the index cards for each chunk of time.

This year our 3-hour school morning is divided into three one-hour chunks.

First, morning time. 

Second, table time.

Third, book time.

Morning time always starts with prayer and Bible and a song.  Then we will choose three index cards--conveniently, that means each of us chooses one--from the morning time stack (these include geography, poetry, French, Shakespeare, composer study, picture study, family read-aloud, etc.).  We will do whatever reading or subject is on those index cards, then tuck them away in a "finished" stack. 

Around 10:00 we'll transition to table time, which is very straightforward: math for both children, followed by language arts (copywork and dictation/grammar for Finn, and handwriting and phonics for Annie). We do these every day. 

Around 11:00 we'll go to book time.  This is where each child gets to choose one index card, and this is the challenging work: history, literature, or natural history readings that need to be narrated, along with Annie's kindergarten readings from My Book House

Then it's time for lunch!

On Tuesdays we have art and piano lessons in the afternoon (at art, I'll read fairy tales to Annie and do a little extra phonics work with her); every other Thursday we have a Charlotte Mason co-op.  So on Mondays, Wednesdays, some Thursdays, and Fridays our afternoons are free.  Finn will practice piano, the children will do Quiet Time, and they can also choose 1-2 index cards for the afternoon (if they aren't already engaged in something....or we aren't going on an outing).  The afternoon cards include math games, handicrafts, extra read-alouds, baking, etc...the fun "extras" that shouldn't be "extras" at all!

I created the right number of index cards to correspond with how many times I want to do a subject in each week.  So for instance, we want to do French three times per week.  So I created three "French" index cards.  When we do French, that index card is tucked away, and we continue working through the cards during the week until they are all finished-then we start the stack over again.  

I love this plan because if we take a day off or someone gets sick, it doesn't throw off the carefully-crafted schedule; we just pick right back up where we left off! It makes sense to me, it allows my children to have some say in what they do each day, and it creates a predictable routine. I want enough flexibility to say "yes" to interesting field trips and experiences that may arise during the course of our school year. Education is, after all, an atmosphere, a discipline, *and* a life.

On Fridays we aren't going to do "school"--we all do a Friday Freewrite together (this is not at all Charlotte Mason-y, but it's something I love to do with my children, so we do it!) and then choose from the afternoon index cards, get together with friends, go on an outing, work on a project, clean the house, or pick from my "What Should I Do?" sheet.

The "What Should I Do?" sheet is just a handwritten list of various things that are fun to do, that maybe we forget to sometimes do, and that I want to remember to do!  On quiet rainy or cold afternoons it's nice to have ideas. This is where I put the crystal-growing kit from the grandparents, or the documentary we want to watch, or board games--that kind of thing.

I feel peaceful and it's time to clean the house! 

And I will add one more thing: the "plan" is good and well, but what really helps me is keeping a little running list (on a private blog that only I see) of what we've done.  Last year Finn became obsessed with squirrels and the Titanic; one year it was jellyfish and Pompeii.  He becomes an autodidact at that point.  I record these things, along with as accurate a booklist as I can keep, so that I can look back on the year and feel amazed at all he learned....sometimes because of my plans, and often in spite of them! 

No comments:

Post a Comment