Month: October 2019

Learn why you shouldn’t go on nature walks with your children, and what you should do instead.

What do you picture when you hear the words “nature walk”? Is it a woman in Edwardian clothing walking briskly down a country lane, taking deep power breaths through her nose? (“Ahhh… smell that country air!”)

An adult in jeans and tank top leading a small group of kids, clapping to get their attention, then pointing at a tree and saying, “Kids, look at the trees. Observe the coloring of the leaves.” (moment of silence while the kids look at the tree and try to figure out what they’re supposed to be noticing)

Then stopping after a few more steps to say, “Look at the flower over there. When we get home we’re going to draw it.”

And the kids smile lamely, wishing they were playing Plants vs Zombies 3?

I can’t imagine any thing more uninspiring to an energetic and rambunctious child. I get bored even thinking about it!

(At a loss as to what to ask your kids when you’re outside to get them noticing the natural world? Download free “I Wonder …” questions from my Resource Library)

Never go on a nature walk

My kids?

We go off trail. We get dirty. We get mud ground into the knees of our jeans. We get sticks and leaves and straw in our hair. We crawl through the bushes as we’re stalking small animals.

We are getting down on our bellies and looking at the ants pretending we’re a zoom lens. (Anyone else’s kids love insects?)

But we never, ever go on a nature walk.

What is a nature walk?

Dictionary.com defines nature walk as “a walk on a nature trail, especially with an experienced guide.”

What is a walk? It’s a stroll. It’s putting your feet one in front of the other. Your mind may be somewhere else and you’re just moving.

The purpose of a walk is to move, right? To advance or travel on foot at a moderate speed or pace. That’s the whole purpose of it.

It’s not to explore, it’s not to have fun, it’s to get from Point A to Point B. That’s what you do when you walk someplace.

So if I am not about to do a nature walk, then what do we do?

We don’t go on nature walks.

We go on adventures.

Nature adventures

At a nature walk information is being lectured by the person leading the walk by the guide.

It’s not being discovered.

I have visions of a man wearing khaki shorts with binoculars and lifting those binoculars to his eyes while saying, “What ho! A rare black bellied whistling duck! Jolly good.”

Nope, not for me.

Adventures all the way.

We pretend we’re in the movie Swiss Family Robinson and we have to belly crawl up to the top of the hill so we can look out over the landscape and see where the pirates are coming up after us.

We stalk animals, we stalk pretend dragons. We go on quests to find elusive lizards. We see a bird or a mule deer or a desert cotton-tailed rabbit or a pterodactyl and we stop dead in our tracks.

And then we whisper, “Let’s go really really quiet now.”

And then we slowly, slowly, ever so slowly try to get closer.

We try to make no noise as we creep forward, slightly hunched over….

….putting our feet down deliberately but gently, one slow step at a time.

We pretend we’re in a Mission Impossible movie and we’re trapped behind enemy lines and we’re trying to get out.

How to go on a nature adventure

But you’re wondering, how do you actually do it? How do you switch from walking down the sidewalk and looking at the bushes while trying to get your 12-year-old to stop chatting with his buddy about his latest Lego mock-up of the Millenium Falcon?

First, seed them with great adventure shows. 

Some great ones to start watching are I Shouldn’t Be Alive and Brave Wilderness on YouTube.

Anything to get into your kids that sense of adventure.

Pretend that you’re part of a book.

Pretend that you’re Sam Gribley from My Side of the Mountain.

Are these trees big enough to to make a home like he did? Why or why not?

Yeah, don’t actually say, “Why or why not?” or you’ll sound like a textbook. Just bring it into your discussion.

Use these nature adventures — and I wouldn’t even call them nature adventures, just adventures— use these adventures to get your kids excited about being out in nature.

Talk about, what we could use these sticks for. Could we use them to make a weapon? Could we use them as a walking stick?

If somebody got hurt, how could we use them to help? Could we use them to splint an arm?

Is this the kind of wood that we could use to start a fire with?

And when we get into questions like these, our kids start making connections.

They start making connections to not only the natural materials but what they can be used for. It drives them deeper right into that sense of adventure.

You can bring in primitive skills even, or bushcraft or woodcraft skills. You can bring in fire making, you can bring an edible plants, you can bring in medicinal plants.

You can learn more about the animals by noticing, “Oh, this plant right here has been bitten by something. What kind of animal do you think nibbled on the leaves?”

Download FREE “I Wonder…” Questions from the Resource Library to make nature study easy.

Use them when you’re out on your adventures as jumping off points. I fall back on these many times a week, sometimes using as is, sometimes using them to leapfrog to other questions.

And then you start talking about, “Ooh here’s the animal trail. Do you see how this is trampled down more than the surrounding area? If you were in a survival situation because you got lost, how could you use this information?”

Look really closely at those flowers. These leaves that you’ve belly crawled through because you’re looking out for those pirates. Are the leaves smooth or are they rough or sticky? What are the petals like? Are there a lot of petals in a ray or are they in a bell shape? What color are they? Are they a light purple? Dark purple? Striped purple?

And then when you go home, draw that plant that you could use to poison those pirates.

Or that you could use to heal the dragon.

When you bring the adventure, when you bring the storytelling to the kids, then it it imprints the experience on their minds so much more than if you’re just walking out for a stroll and saying, “Oh, look at that tree. Oh what a pretty flower.”

The next time you decide to go out on a nature walk, don’t.

Instead go on an adventure.

And see how different the experiences and see how the experience has changed.

Related Posts:

What is the Charlotte Mason method?

6 Essential Resources You Can’t Live Without


Want to remember why I don’t go on nature walks (and you shouldn’t either)? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board!

Does the idea of giving exams terrify you? Here's a step-by-step tutorial to walk you through the process. Exams don't have to be scary!

The purpose of exams

Unlike many exams where the purpose is to find out what the child knows and does not know, Charlotte Mason exams instead are designed to showcase what the child knows.

They are not only an assessment tool for the parent, but also let the parent or teacher know what the students are remembering and connecting with.

Why is this important?

When we see what our children are connecting with and remembering, we can also then see what they are not remembering, with no stress to the child. 

We can also see any misconceptions that they might have developed over the weeks and months since the last time we worked on specific material.

Exams are a confidence boost for kids because they get to show off what they know.

The questions are broad enough that they can almost always recall at least some information. No more staring at a blank sheet of paper in dread desperately trying to remember the non-metals of the periodic table.

How to Give Exams Step-by-step

Let's walk through step-by-step how to give Charlotte Mason exams. It's easier than you think!

step one: prepare the exams

But how do you come up with exam questions for your children? How do you know what sorts of questions are appropriate? If our only model is the example that we had in public school, how do we translate that to the very different educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason? How do we rephrase questions to be more along with Charlotte Mason was thinking?

This is where the primary sources come into play. We are lucky enough to have many copies of the Parents National Education Union programmes available to us as a model. (The PNEU was the organization that Miss Mason founded to administer her method to member homeschools and brick & mortar schools.)

The families of the PNEU received not only the plan for the term, (that is, what books and resources were to be used and activities that were to be done,) but also exam questions appropriate to the Form. 

Note: If  the terminology used in Charlotte Mason circles sounds like a foreign language, refer to this Beginner's Guide to CM Terminology.

Use these exam questions as your template for your own exams.

The first part of the file on archive.org is the program itself, but the second part is the exams that were sent out for that term. Each file on archive.org has at least Forms 1,  2,  3, and 4. Some of them also have Forms 5 and 6.

So we have plenty of examples of exams for students aged 6 through 14. but less for students ages 15 through 18.

Need a little hand-holding? Here's a step-by-step video walk-through of how to find the PNEU programmes and exams.

Step 2: Sub in exam information from your own resources

We can't just use the PNEU exam questions as written, however. Obviously when we change books many of the exam questions are no longer relevant to us.

That doesn't mean we throw the whole thing out; it just means that that we have to create our own exam questions based on the models.

Some questions we will be able to lift straight from the programmes. Questions like

  • Write a line of poetry from memory
  • Drawing: two kinds of wild fruits (from nature)
  • What music by Schubert have you heard this term? Say what you can about one of his (a) songs or (b) pieces for piano.
  • Reading: Father to choose unseen passage.

Some we will be able to use with only a small amount of modification.

  • Write in verse (which must scan), otherwise in prose, upon one of the following, (a) Prometheus, (b) General Gordon, (c) Wayland Smith, (d) Sir Francis Drake, (e) Puck.

Look at how many choices the students had! It wasn't simply write about A or B-- they were given five different topics that they could write about. This particular question was from Form 3, so ages 12 to 14.

It's simple enough to substitute the characters or situations we have read about in the last twelve weeks, no matter what books you are using. On this question, we have figures from mythology, from the biography read, from history, and from Shakespeare.

Remember that a term was twelve weeks long, so we don't want to go back further than that. It's tempting to let the terms drag out for five months if life has gotten in the way and you haven't gotten as much as you wanted to get done.

But rather than waiting until all of the material from the term has been worked through, and that comes six months down the road, instead simply call three months into your school year the end of the term no matter how much work you've actually gotten done.

Adjust your exam questions based on the material that you've actually gotten done within the last three months, not on what you had planned to get done.

step 3: spread the exam over several days

Give the exams spread across a week.

We want to keep the exams to about the same amount of time as we are allowing in our regular routine for each subject. If you are following the time tables or schedules from the PNEU or you have made your own, then you will still follow that plan for exam week.

But instead of doing your regular learning, you will be doing exams.

For Form 1, the student dictates all the answers except for the specific category of writing. For Form 2, ages 9-12, the students still dictate much of the answers, but can do some of the writing on their own.

What you don't want to do is let any student's slower writing ability impact the answers they're giving in the exams. So if your student struggles with writing, either written narrations or the physical act of handwriting, then you'll want to take dictation for him.

On the other hand, if a student writes freely and it's easier for her or for him to write than to tell the answers, then you will let the student write as much as they want.

The 12 to 14 year old, if they have no writing disability, should be writing as much of the exam as they can.

When spreading the exams over several days you will very likely get through the questions quickly. That will give a lighter week than a typical learning week so it also will make for easing into a break. 

Step four: One tip for giving the exam

Keep in mind that this is a new process for both you and your student.

If your child freezes, or gets frustrated, or wails, "I don't remember anything,"  or "I have no idea," this can be frustrating to us also. We think all of this time that we've spent the last three months learning this information is completely wasted.

Remember though that part of this can be performance anxiety, and the way to get through this is to not express disappointment or anger that they do not remember.

Now it might be that they legitimately don't remember, or it might be that they're just freezing from being put on the spot. Either way don't get angry with them.

Don't let them see disappointment.

This is not a reflection on you.

Remember that the purpose of exams is for them to show their knowledge, not for them to be caught out with what they don't know.

Simply say something like, "This is just like the narration that we've been doing. Can you tell me just one small thing from it?" If they can't, smile and say, "That's okay. We'll move on."

Don't make a big deal about it.

You want to ease their distress, minimize their stress, as much as you can.

One thing that I did find when I gave exams to my daughter was that if she could not narrate at the time that we went over the material, she rarely could narrate when we actually gave exams.

That narration was what cemented the material into her mind. Or it could be that the narration was what she understood at the time and she wasn't able to make other connections later. I don't know which one it was but it was an interesting point.

Oh, and one more thing. What you think is important to remember may very well not be what they remember.

That's OK.

These are not public school tests, where the student is expected to memorize certain facts. It's about building relationships with the material, and making connections on their own.

Step five: evaluate your exams

When you are finished giving those exams for the week, write down how it went

This is the step we always want to skip. We think that of course we'll remember what happened!

But you won't.

You won't remember the details any more than you remember what that brown lumpy stuff is in the Tupperware container in the back of the fridge.

Write down any pitfalls, any things that you took note of or noticed, any things that you would like to next.

Did you see that you need to be more consistent with your lessons? Did you see that there are some books or resources that were easier for your child to narrate or to make connections from or were somewhere more difficult? 

And celebrate their successes! Any little thing that you were surprised at or that they did particularly well, write that down because it's so easy to remember only the tough parts, the things that didn't work.

But it's more important to look at what they did remember. At the connections they did make.

If they were not able to narrate at all from one of the books, then think back on that.

Is this the book that they showed no interest in while they were reading it or you were reading it to them, if they're younger?

During the term did this seemed like a book that they simply did not understand? If so, and at the end of the exam you found that they really couldn't remember anything from it, then seriously consider either changing out that book or doing something during the next term to help them interact with that material even more.

Narration is the act of interacting with the material, listening to the material, processing it in the mind, pulling it back out of the mind, in order to really assimilated.

It does not have to be done orally-- it can be drawn, it can be acted, it can be written.

There are all sorts of ways that you can do narrations.

However, if they are interacting with the material well during the week during the regular term and you feel like it's that they simply we're having problems with the exam itself, then the answer to that is just to make exams regular and stress-free.

I do not mean monthly, I mean at the end of every term. 

At the end of every three months of your school, make sure that you are doing a week of exams.

quick recap

Giving exams is an important part of a Charlotte Mason education.

  • They should be done every 3 months during the school year
  •  prepare the exams using the PNEU programme exams as examples
  •  substitute information from the books that you were using in your own studies
  •  spread the exams over a full week
  •  don't express disappointment or anger if your children do not remember what you want them to remember
  •  evaluate at the end what went right, what went wrong, what do you want to change for next term if anything, and what do you want to do differently the next exam

I hope this has eased some of your anxiety about giving exams.  

One last thing -- have a treat at the end.

Ice cream is good.

lessons learned you can apply immediately to your own homeschool. What happened when I gave my child Charlotte Mason exams for  the first time?

I gave my first exams last year.

I have been Charlotte Mason homeschooling for 15 years, and yet it took me that long to work up the courage to do exams. I just didn't think that they were all that important.

Isn't Charlotte Mason about not giving tests? But in her books, Charlotte Mason says that giving exams is essential to her style of education.

Not just something fun to do. (and seriously? who equates exams with fun?)

Essential.

So I finally bit the bullet and did it.

I was so nervous about them! But determined to do CM the "right" way, I figured I had to at least give it a shot. And what harm could it do?

I decided that even if they went horribly, I could always choose to not do them in the future, right?  

But I wanted to see if it was really as important as Charlotte Mason said, and if my child would really love it as much as she said, (again, really?)

Giving CM Exams for the first time

Of course I went straight to the source:  the PNEU programmes from the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection. 

The PNEU was the Parents' National Educational Union, the organization that Miss Mason began to administer her method and curriculum to both homeschools and later, physical schools. Every term they sent out not only the booklist with required pages but also exam questions that were to be sent back at the end of the term.

I substituted my own books that I had used. While I used some of the books from those original PNEU programmes this last year, most of the books were my own choices.  

I couldn't  just reuse her exam questions word for word. However, what I could do was  use them as a model.

I typed up a so I opened up a word document, substituted my own books, and went to work.

How the exams actually went

Honestly?

At first it was horrible.

Every time I would ask my daughter a question she would cry, "I don't know anything! I don't remember anything!

My stomach churned as I thought, "there is no way that this is going to work. She can't remember anything."

Even things that we just did last week.

All those years of planning... WASTED! (gratuitous The Swan Princess reference)

But  I kept asking her questions, being encouraging even if she said she couldn't remember. 

"That's okay, honey. It's not a big deal." (I was sweating bullets inside. I tried not to show it)

This helped ease some of her nervousness.

Because you know what? She was nervous too.

She hasn't ever been to public school, so the only reason I can think that she'd be anxious is just that new-ness.

But then suddenly she started to give me some narrations.

And then as we went along, she was able to give me more and more. Some of the bright spots were that when she did give me answers she remembered details from the books that I didn't even remember until she said something.

And then I thought, "Ooh wow, that's right! That was in the book!"

She also acted out a fable fully from beginning to end, rather than giving me just a short section of it.

Another thing that I noticed was that if she had not been able to narrate it weeks before while we were actually reading the book, she was not able to narrate it for the exam.

While occasionally she came up with a few details that she had not originally narrated, that was the exception rather than the rule.

This brought home how important it is to  narrate after every lesson. It's the way our children interact with the material and then cement it in their minds.

Lessons Learned giving cm exams

Lesson the first- your child won't remember what you think she will

What speaks to me is not what will speak to my child and vice versa. Things that I had felt were the important parts of the story were not the details that necessarily stuck in her mind.

This is one of the things that Charlotte Mason says, that we need to get out of the way between the student and the author (or the expert), and let the child get information mind to mind. When we put ourselves between them either through lectures or by  interpreting, we don't let them experience the material directly.

And we have no idea what's actually going to catch our children's interests.

Lesson the Second- keep terms to 12 weeks or less

Don't let those terms drag on.

I didn't give exams until March of this year even though we started lessons in August.

That's because it took that long to finish our Term 1 work.

I felt like we had to be completely finished with Term 1 work before I could give exams. (Rule Follower here!)

But trying to remember things from 9 months ago was just too long to expect. Next time, even if we aren't finished with the work, I will still give exams at the end of that 12 week session.

Why twelve weeks? That was the length of a term in the PNEU.

That's three months. I don't know why it's easier to wrap my head around "three months" than "twelve weeks", but it is.

If we still want to continue with the work before moving on to Term 2 that's fine, but I won't wait that long between giving exams.

I'm the one that gets to make up the questions, so I get to decide.  I simply won't give questions from material that we haven't covered yet.

It sounds so simple when put that way, but I was so concerned with having to finish all of our Term 1 material that I waited 9 months to give those exams.

Lesson the third- more consistency

 I need to be more consistent with both entries into the nature notebook, and about asking my child to describe orally what she is seeing.

That doesn't mean that she can't draw it. My daughter is dyslexic; drawing is how she does most of her narrations. However, once she's drawn it, that material sticks in her mind much better if then I also have her describe what she has drawn

Conclusion

This actually was a good experience for us.

And I will now do exams at the end of every three months in our school, regardless if we have finished the material that I had set for that term.

It allowed my child to show me what she knew, and that alone increased her confidence. It also gave her another opportunity to bring up those older memories of our lessons and interact with them again.

Exams not only helped her confidence, but it also was another learning aid, bringing things from her long-term memory back to her present memory. It  gave her another opportunity to bring up those older memories of our lessons and interact with them again.

We did exams over a week's time, and since the questions were so short it also served as a nice vacation week.

She also got to show off to her dad all of the handwork that she had been working on. And having it all in one place rather than just seeing little bits at a time really helped my husband see the progress we had made over the last several months.

Quick recap of lessons learned

  • What speaks to you in a passage is not what will necessarily speak to your children and vice versa. Giving exams gives you a window into their mind to see what sorts of things stuck with them and what didn't. 
  • Keep terms to 12 weeks. Don't let them drag on even if you aren't finished with some material
  • Be consistent with both lessons and things like nature notebook and painting. Those "extras" aren't really extras, but because they aren't part of our normal lesson time in the morning they feel like they're extras. Doing exams showed me that I had been slacking in this area.Save work

Giving exams showed me the weaknesses in our own in the way that I administer our homeschool. And it helped me to change those things that needed changing.

What have you learned from giving exams to your own children? Did you make any changes to your school routine after giving them? Leave me a comment and let me know.

WANT TO REMEMBER THIS? SAVE lessons learned from CM exams TO YOUR FAVORITE HOMESCHOOLING PINTEREST BOARD!

woman listening to podcast

Discover intriguing new podcasts to add to your playlist.

Between homeschooling, keeping the house reasonable, getting time outdoors, and all the other demands on my time, it seems I rarely have time to read anymore.

For years, I’ve combated this with copious use of audiobooks in the car, but sometimes I crave more than a good story.

Enter podcasts.

While podcasts can be stories, they’re more often like sitting in on a talk or discussion.

You know when you’re overhearing conversation at the next table over, and the subject is fascinating and the discourse respectful, and you linger over your coffee just so you can listen to more of the conversation?

Podcasts do that too, without the societal taboos of eavesdropping.

But after awhile, your podcast list can get a bit stale.

If your playlist is in need of refreshing, take a look at this list I’ve gathered to expand our minds (not in a magic mushroom kind of way, though I do have a great recipe from nomnompaleo.com for magic mushroom powder….)

With the exception of Stonechats, none of these podcasts are about homeschooling. Instead, they cover a wide variety of topics that make us think and are enjoyable to listen to.

The Podcasts

  1. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
  2. This I Believe
  3. Bulaq Podcast — the Arabist
  4. Myths and Legends
  5. Romance of the Three Kingdoms Podcast
  6. Stonechats
  7. Nature Guys
  8. British History Podcast

Philosophy Podcasts for the inclusive homeschooler

The first two podcasts are about reflecting on our beliefs. It doesn’t matter what spiritual tradition your beliefs stem from; it’s about getting down to core values and really thinking about them.

1. Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

It’s the English class you didn’t know you missed and the meaningful conversations you didn’t know you craved.

This podcast creates time in your week to think about life’s big questions. Because reading fiction doesn’t help us escape the world, it helps us live in it.

Each week, we explore a central theme through which to explore the characters and context, always grounding ourselves in the text. We’ll engage in traditional forms of sacred reading to unearth the hidden gifts within even the most mundane sentences.

On this podcast, we ask: What if we read the books we love as if they were sacred texts? 

2. This I Believe

This I Believe

This I Believe, Inc. publishes a weekly podcast of selections from their award-winning public radio series. Each week a different person reads an essay they have written about their most deeply held beliefs.

Literature and Culture Podcasts

Ready to move on to specific cultures? Let’s visit the Middle East and North Africa, China, and then travel the world learning about legends from around the globe.

3. Middle East – Bulaq Podcast

Bulaq Podcast — the Arabist

BULAQ is a podcast about contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa. It looks at the Arab region through the lens of literature and at literature through the lens of current events.

4. China – Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Romance of the Three Kingdoms Podcast

This podcast is an attempt to tell the story of the classic Chinese novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms in a way that’s more accessible to an audience who did not grow up in the culture and society that it has permeated for hundreds of years.

It’s kind of like an audiobook, but instead of just a straight reading of a translation, it’s conversational storytelling infused with occasional brief background information and history lessons to help give you the context you need to understand and appreciate this great work of classic Chinese literature.

5. Legends from Around the World

Myths and Legends

This show brings you folklore that has shaped our world. Some are incredibly popular stories you think you know, but with surprising origins. Others are stories that might be new to you, but are definitely worth a listen.

These are stories of magic, kings, Vikings, dragons, knights, princesses, and wizards from a time when the world beyond the map was a dangerous, wonderful, and terrifying place.

Podcasts that go with a Charlotte Mason education

These last three didn’t fit into any particular category. Trying desperately to shoehorn them into one, I came up with Odds and Ends.

But they all support a Charlotte Mason homeschooling mindset.

6. Stonechats – Secular Charlotte Mason

Stonechats where we wax eloquent about all things related to homeschooling from a Charlotte Mason perspective.

(Disclaimer – I am one of the hosts of this show)

7. Nature Guys

Nature Guys

Nature Guys podcast connects you to the exciting natural world right in your own neighborhood. These nature connections will help you be cool, calm, collected and ready to make a positive difference in the world.

8. British History Podcast

British History Podcast

History is human. History is drama. History is our story, and it belongs to all of us.

The BHP is a chronological retelling of the history of Britain with a particular focus upon the lives of the people. You won’t find a dry recounting of dates and battles here, but instead you’ll learn about who these people were and how their desires, fears, and flaws shaped the scope of this island at the edge of the world.

A variety of podcasts to fill your mind

These are just a few of the podcasts that fill my subscription list. What podcasts do you love?

You Might Also Be Interested In:

6 Essential Charlotte Mason Resources (You Can’t Live Without)

Want to remember this? Save 8 Great Podcasts to your favorite Pinterest Board!

pocketwatch for scheduling

LEARN THE FREQUENCY AND DURATION OF Middle School SUBJECTS IN A CHARLOTTE MASON EDUCATION, AND UPDATE FOR TODAY!

Making a homeschool schedule can overwhelming.  What is realistic? What's too much? How often should we do math every day?

Moving into middle school/junior high can feel even more daunting.

We don't just want to hand our kids a list of assignments and pages to be read at the beginning of the week and then say "have at it" with no other guidance.

While that may work for some small subset of kids (not mine!) most will need help building their week.

And when we start with just a list, it's so easy to say "we got the big stuff done, let's just skip the rest today."

And that happens again, and again, and again.

Before you know it, you're two months into the school year and you're no longer feeling the joy because while you're doing the "important things" (who decides what's important, anyway?) you're routinely skipping the things that actually bring joy to your homeschool.

Or suddenly it's Winter Break and  (whoops!) you realize that you're still on the first lesson in Latin and you vow to yourself that NEXT term, by golly, you'll get it done!

The answer to both problems is having a weekly routine, one that allows all lessons to be done in a timely manner, without spending too long on this subject but also not skipping that other subject altogether.

Charlotte Mason's member homeschools were sent sample time tables that they could then adjust to their needs. We can use these original timetables from the PNEU (Parents' National Education Union) as our guide, but we need to bring them to our modern world, both in the subjects and the in the amount of time that a modern homeschool typically spends on lessons.

I don't know about you, but I am not about do lessons six days a week!

This post is about Form III (approximate ages 12-14). If you are looking for a different age group, I've broken down the other Forms, too:

Form I Timetables for Today (approximate ages 6-9)

Form II Timetables for Today (approximate ages 9-12)

Original schedules

Let's get started.

We have two originals from A Liberal Education for All that we can use to guide us. One is from 1928 and the other 1933.

Are you struggling to figure out how to take Charlotte Mason's timetables and apply them to our modern life? Let's work through them together.

This time we are working through Form III (approximate ages 12-14). If you're looking for the other Forms, here they are:

Form I (ages 6-9)
Form II (ages 9-12)

As always, let's start with the originals from A Liberal Education for All.

original table of pneu timetables form 3

Oooh, but here's an interesting tidbit: that's the 1928 edition. The 1933 edition has one significant change.

Form 3 timetables from 1933

Do you see it?

Look at the 12:15-12:45 slot.

Every block in that time slot has "A" at the beginning of it. This means that only students in Form IIIA should do that part. Form IIIB doesn't

(Remember that the first year in Form 3 is called B, and the second year is called A. Think of it like Beginner and Advanced).

So why is this important? Well, for one thing it means that Form 3B students are stopping half an hour earlier than the Form 3A students.

Some of these subjects for 3B students are moved to earlier in the day, while others are dropped altogether. 

In the 1928 time table, there is no distinction between 3A and 3B, but do you notice that there are some changes penciled in? Most notably, Picture Study, Composition, Reading, and Singing are shifted to the afternoons.

I think this is an important consideration in our own planning. You could do this several ways.

  • You could use the 1933 guidelines and have your Form 3B student end at 12:15, waiting on certain subjects (2nd foreign language, Composition) until next year.
  • You could use the 1928 time table as is.
  • You could use the 1928 time table and shift Picture Talk, Composition, Reading, and Singing to the afternoons along with Nature Note Book, Handicrafts, Gardening, and Drawing.

Because it's already marked as A and B, we'll use the 1933 time table as our guide this time.
And let's make this easier to work with by typing it up into a table:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A Composition

A Geography

N.B. -- No "Home Work." "Narration" (oral and written) at the end of each lesson. At least two written narrations each day. B Works till 12 noon only. For afternoon work see General Notes on the Programme.

General Overview

Similar to Form I and Form II, lessons are kept generally to the morning hours. But we do see a gradual lengthening of the lessons. If we look at only the 1928 timetable, students worked in 10-45 minute sessions, for an overall time of 3 hours, 45 minutes.

We don't know who penciled in the changes, whether that was a parent or an administrator of the PNEU.

Looking at the 1933 time table, one of the notes reads "B Works till 12 noon only." This is important because it shows that these subjects weren't pushed aside for the afternoons, and that second-to-last time block goes until 12:15. If "B" students work until 12 noon only, then that 45 minute session is only a 30 minute session for them.

It makes you wonder why this change. Had they been getting feedback that the almost 4 hours of work was just too much for most 3B students? Did they see in the exams that many 3B students weren't getting all the subjects in because their attention flagged towards the end?

Was it a unilateral decision from upper management?

I don't know, but it gives us "permission" in our own homes to cut back.

I mentioned in the Form II post that I think of "B" years as transition years.  Form 3 itself is a transition from the elementary years  into high school.

If we look at the 1933 timetables of Forms 3 & 4 as a whole (Form 4 being the first year of "high school" and itself a transition year), we see that similar to Form 2B, Form 3B eases the student into the higher level work but with slightly shortened hours.

Everything I see in the timetables and the programmes reiterates to me the gradual progression of a Charlotte Mason education. Not many would call Forms 5 and 6 "light" education, but the students aren't expected to start out there. They gradually build up to that level, piece by piece.

Students generally spent two years in Form 3, unlike the three years spent in each of Form 1 and 2. The first year in Form 3 was designated "B" and the second year designated A. Students are generally ages 12-14.

And did you also notice that these early teenagers still had a half hour movement/play break? I love that!

Just as in earlier Forms, the timetables have specific times. It's Geography from 11:00-11:30, not Geography: 30 minutes.

This is important! Charlotte Mason wrote that one time is not as good as another to do things.

When we keep our lessons on a time table, it prevents them from overflowing into the afternoons and evenings. We see that this is also reiterated with the bottom note "No Home Work."

If a student doesn't get their assigned work done in the time slot, other time is not taken away "until you get it done."

Books and resources should be interesting and engaging, not something that you need to drag your kids through. If that's the case (that you have to drag them through their lessons), you should take a hard look at what needs to change.

Family time and time for individual pursuits is just as important as lesson time. That doesn't mean that lesson are not important. We have specific times each day for them. It means that lessons should not become the sole focus of our or our children's day.

Let's work through the table a few subjects at a time and see where it takes us. We will be using the 1933 table as our main one, but referring to changes from the 1928 table, too.

BIBLE and picture study

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A
Composition

A Geography

As in earlier Forms, Spiritual Instruction (Bible Study) is the start of almost every day. Old and New Testament are alternated, and this study doesn't include memory work that is done a bit later in the day.

Picture Study again has a designated time every week, also. 

Bible: 3x per week for 20 minutes, plus a Saturday session of 20 minutes

Picture Study: 1x per week for 20 minutes

As with Forms 1 & 2, Bible was done for 20 minutes 4x per week, at the start of the day. Old and New Testament readings were alternated.

Once again, Picture Study also has its own slot in the timetables. It's not something to be set aside and gotten to whenever, but a scheduled part of the day. 

In the 1928 version, it's penciled in to shift Picture Study to the afternoon, which is certainly a viable option. If you do so, though, make sure that it's not something that's forgotten about in the hustle and bustle of afternoon activities.

Perhaps make a point to do it at lunch on Fridays, for example.

Bible: 4x per week @20 min per session (one was a Saturday session)

Picture Study: 1x per week for 20 minutes

Natural History, botany, and general science

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A Composition

A Geography

In a change from the lower forms, we now have separate time slots for natural history, botany, and general science.

What's the difference? Natural history is the study of natural objects in their environment. It includes animals, plants, fungi, and even rocks and minerals and is often based on observation.

In General Science, the PNEU programmes (the course of study sent out by Charlotte Mason to her member schools and homeschools), General Science included such things as electricity, space, and various other topics that we'd still put under a "general science" course now.

General Science in the 1933 time table is listed for Form A only, so if your child is in the first year of Form III (so Form IIIB) it's ok to skip this part if you're overwhelmed.

Natural History and Botany were expected for all years of Form III.

Natural History was for 20 minutes 1x per week. Botany was 30 minutes once per week, and the books assigned often contained experiments.

General Science was for 3A students, though the 1928 schedule had it for all Form 3 students. Because of that change, I consider it optional for 3B.

Natural History: 1x per week for 20 minutes

Botany: 1x per week for 30 minutes

General Science: 1x per week for 30 minutes for 3A, optional for 3B

arithmetic, Geometry, and algebra

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A
Composition

A Geography

The second block of the day is usually filled with math of some kind. This is a 30 minute block, and it makes sense to do it at this time because "the mind is still fresh". I find it very interesting that there's one random block at the end of the day for 3B once per week.

All students did Geometry, Arithmetic, and Algebra, but 3A did an extra block of Geometry, while 3B did an extra block of Arithmetic. This means that the younger students get a bit more practice on "numbers" (calculation) and then the following year when that is more solid, they shift a bit to get more of the spatial/logical training that comes with geometry.

Notice also that Tuesday has Geometry OR Arithmetic. You could therefore call Geometry optional for Form 3, especially if you're at a point in your curriculum that your child's brain needs a bit more time to develop before being able to understand it. A lot of connections are made around the 12-13 year time frame, so it's not surprising (or anything to feel bad about!) that some students need to wait an extra year.

Another thing I want to point out is that students weren't doing a full course of Algebra, Geometry, and Arithmetic each year. The programmes have 10-15 pages assigned per 12-week term in Algebra and Geometry. That's about 1 page per week, and if you think about doing one session per week of geometry and algebra, again that makes sense.

I used to think that when people said Charlotte Mason did Algebra, Geometry, and Arithmetic all at once, that that meant she recommended an integrated program (a program that covered all those topics).

It wasn't until I dug into these timetables and the PNEU programmes that I realized that no, she did use 3 separate programs, she just worked through those three programs a little bit each week.

Another thing to pay attention to: Arithmetic was both oral and written. Don't hand your kids a Saxon math book and expect them to work through it independently. Oral work was rapid work with tables, oral computation, and even oral word problems. Arithmetic should be a mix of oral and written, and not rely exclusively on one or the other.

Just as in earlier Forms, math of some kind is done every day.

Arithmetic: 3-4 sessions of 30 min per week, plus an additional 30 minutes for 3B, and an additional Saturday session of 30 minutes

Geometry: 0-1x per week for 30 min, plus an additional 30 minutes for 3A

Algebra: 30 min 1x per week

Geography, Plutarch's Lives, and citizenship

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A
Composition

A Geography

In the PNEU progammes, Plutarch's Lives is listed under Citizenship. so having it's own slot in the time table may mean that the PNEU (and Charlotte Mason by extension) felt that Plutarch was important enough that it needed a dedicated time each week (do you think it's possible that families were skipping Plutarch, so they gave it its own time slot?).

Also, notice that it's an entire 30 minute block. Reading through a single life over a term, sometimes even over two terms for the longer ones, means that you are reading it very slowly and leaving plenty of time to discuss it.

But also notice that Geography gets just as much time as Citizenship and Plutarch do, and for 3A students they get an extra slot of Geography. Learning about other cultures and people is a high priority in a Charlotte Mason education.

Citizenship and Plutarch's Lives: 30 min 2x per week (1 session each)

Geography: 30 min 2x per week, plus an additional 30 min Saturday session for 3A

Dictation and writing, composition, and latin

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A
Composition

A Geography

Dictation and Writing were done by both Form 3B and 3A students twice per week for 30 minutes, though at different times. If they were both doing it for the same amount of time, why split them up? Why not have both 3A and 3B students do Dictation on Friday morning at 9:20?

I have no idea what the logic is here. My first thought was that 3A is doing Geometry as the second subject of the day, to keep with the same rhythm as the rest of the week, but then 3B's Arithmetic session on Friday is shuttled to the 11:30 slot.

So who knows? The PNEU sometimes worked in mysterious ways....

Dictation continued along the same lines as Form II. The student (with a parent's aid) works through 2-3 pages of a chosen book, noting grammar and punctuation. Any words the student finds tricky to spell are visualized until the student feels he has them firmly in his mind.

This may take one session or several. Go at the pace of your student.

When the student feels confident in his knowledge of the passage, the parent chooses one paragraph and dictates it while the student writes it down.

"Writing" on the time table refers to continued handwriting practice, either drill pages or copywork or writing favorite passages or poems in a notebook.

It could also be used for written narrations after the fact. Form 3 instructions say to occassionally read something on Tuesday and then write a summary of it on Thursday. Because one of the Writing slots is set for Thursday, I'd feel just fine using it for that purpose rather than continued handwriting practice.

Now here is where Composition finally comes in. In the 1928 timetable, it's set for both levels of Form 3, but it's also been penciled in to shift it to the afternoon.

Contrary to popular CM mythology, there is actual instruction in composition. It is not all "the natural method". We just wait on specific instruction until junior high, rather, which allows time for a child to experience years of good writing without pressure.

This 30 minutes of weekly instruction in Form III is when the student finally gets focused instruction on different modes of composition.

Latin is 2x per week for both B and A, but note that the 1933 timetable says that B works till noon only. That means that the 45 minute time slot from 11:30-12:15 is actually only a 30 minute slot for Form 3B.

Dictation and Writing: 2x per week for 30 min each

Composition: 3A- 1x per week for 30 minutes (optional for 3B)

Latin: 3B- 2x per week at 30 min each (one is a Saturday session)
             3A - 1x per week for 30 min (Saturday), 1x per week for 45 min

English Grammar and French

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A
Composition

A Geography

Here's another area where there is a slight change from the 1928 to the 1933 timetable.

The 1928 timetable had English Grammar & Parsing, and then another slot for English Grammar & Analysis. The 1933 timetable (shown above) has one block for English Grammar, and one block for Analysis and Parsing.

What's the difference between Analysis and Parsing? "Parse" comes from the first element of the Latin term for "part of speech" - "pars orationis". It means to tell the parts of speech of the individual words of a sentence, and how they relate to each other.

"'of' is a preposition; 'the' is an adjective (article) modifying 'words'; 'individual' is an adjective modifying 'words'; 'words' is a noun and the object of the preposition 'of'."

Analysis is the breaking down of a whole into its parts. It would be not breaking down a sentence into parts of speech (parsing) but the parts of a sentence: subject, predicate, the various clauses.

We don't have access to a copy of the grammar book that was assigned in the PNEU programmes, but my guess is that Grammar was specific instruction, and perhaps also instruction on the various tenses of verbs (past perfect continuous, anyone?) while analysis and parsing was actually doing exercises on the parts of a sentence and parts of speech.

Regardless, students spent 30 minutes 2x per week doing various grammar exercises.

For 3B, French was 30 minute sessions, 2x per week with an extra Saturday session. For 3A students, those same French sessions were 45 minutes per week. And we still have scheduled time to learn a French Song once per week during the singing/movement break.

Grammar, Analysis, and Parsing: 2x week at 30 minutes each

French:  1x per week practice a French song
                 3B - 2x per week at 30 min each, plus a Saturday session of 30 min
                 3A - 2x per week at 45 min each, plus a Saturday session of 45 min

Drill, Singing, and Play

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A Composition

A Geography

That brings us right into Singing, Play, and Drill.

It is at this age that we typically start to think that kids don't need that play break anymore. Sure, we can embrace it for under-12's, but shouldn't they be past this by now? They're teenagers!

But no.

We still have a half hour play/movement/singing break every day.

Midway through the lessons. 

Every.

Single.

Day.

Let me share a little secret with you --

Students had a play/movement/singing break scheduled all the way through Form 4 (approx age 14-15).

And ages 15-18 (Forms 5 & 6) still had a movement/singing break.

Please do not expect your students to sit for 3 hours doing schoolwork without a break.

Ever.

Have you heard of the Pomodoro Technique? It's a productivity technique developed in the late  1980s, where you set a timer for 25 minutes and work uninterrupted for that time. Then you take a 3-5 minute break, then go back for another 25 minutes of uninterrupted work.

Repeat that for four 25-minute chunks, then take a 15-30 minute break. Then start again.

Hmm.... these timetables look suspiciously like that, though instead of taking a 3-5 minute break after each chunk, the student merely changes to a subject that uses a different part of the brain or body to refresh the mind.

Productivity experts say that we work best in 1-2 hour time blocks, then need a break.

Do not skip this step.

Every day for a half hour the student either does Drill and plays, or sings and plays. Singing and Drill are alternated.

Drill referred to Swedish Drill, a specific set of movements based on military drill and similar to calisthenics, though not as vigorous.

Singing alternated between English songs, French songs, and then just ... singing. Regardless, get your child to stand while singing and get that blood pumping!

Drill, Singing, and Play: 30 minutes every day that lessons were done, an hour and 20 minutes into lesson time.

Repetition, week's work, map of the world

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A Composition

A Geography

Right after the movement/singing/play break, we start with a 10 minute slot for Repetition or Map of the World.

When I look at this I wonder, did Charlotte Mason do a 10-minute slot here to bring the rest of the timetable back on a half hour schedule (so they ended at 12 instead of 11:50) or did she do it to ease the students back into lessons after being given a break, or was it for some other reason?

Remembering back to when my older daughter was this age, I always had a hard time bringing her back to lessons once I let her play outside.

I tried to get around this by not letting her play until lessons were done, which wasn't actually a good idea and didn't work well.

I wonder if I'd used this strategy, to do a quick 10 minute easy block, if that would have helped?

Whether or not that was Charlotte Mason's thought, I think it's a great way to reel our kids back in.  It's also done in Form 4.

We have that 10 minute slot of Repetition daily after the play break, alternating between poetry and Bible memorization, with Latin memorization thrown in there for good measure for 3A students.

3B students will be working on the Map of the World for 10 minutes. 3A students do as well, but that's included as part of their Geography studies while the 3B students have a dedicated time block of it.

Week's Work again is a stumper. It's scheduled for Forms I and II also, but shares a 10 minute slot with Repetition once per week on Saturday.

There is a category for "Work" in the PNEU programmes. It consists of "definite house or garden work", needlework, cardboard modelling, claymodelling, toymaking, sewing and mending, making Christmas presents, leatherwork, putting on plays, and Scouting tests, among other things.

For the 12-14 year old child, this could not possibly all be completed in a short 10 minute weekly time span.

One idea is that this time is for the parent to review the student's progress, to look over what has been done for the week. Inspect the mending, show off the clay models or toys, see how much was done on the Christmas presents.

Repetition: 3A - 5x per week, 3B - 4x per week @10 minutes per session, plus an additional Saturday session for both

Map of the World: 3B - 1x per week for 10 minutes 

History and Italian or german

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A
Composition

A Geography

As in Form II, there are separate days for the different history streams of a Charlotte Mason education.

English History has its own half hour slot, and General history has another. General history was Indian or world history, and ancient history. Indian (or world history) and ancient history were both under the heading of "general history" in the programmes.

This is how multiple history streams were handled in a Charlotte Mason education. They were simply done on different days. We don't try to cram all three history books into a single "history" slot every day, but instead we have specific days for reading English, Indian (or world), and ancient history.

Italian or German was reserved for Form 3A students in this time table, though in the 1928 version there was no distinction between 3A and 3B for languages.

History: 1x per week for 30 minutes for English history, 1x per week for 30 minutes for general history plus a Saturday session of 30 minutes

Italian or German: 2x per week for Form 3A, one session of 30 minutes and one of 45 minutes

Literature and reading

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

Arithmetic (oral & written)

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

Latin

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

Singing and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

General History

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Italian or German

B Arithmetic

French

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A
Composition

A Geography

Recall that 3B students stopped at 12 noon, so while 3A did Literature for 45 minutes, 3B only did it for 30 minutes once a week.

Reading for 3A was a half hour slot.

I sometimes wonder about this, because the Reading selections in the programmes were the same for both 3A and 3B, and the notes say that lighter portions of the program like plays and novels should be read in the evenings and on holidays.

I'm not sure why 3A got their own dedicated time slot here for Reading. It could be just another way to help ease the transition to the higher grade levels. By having a Reading slot here, it meant that the student didn't need to spend other afternoon time doing more reading, and was a way to keep the book work manageable.

Literature: 30 min 1x per week for 3B, 45 min 1x per week for 3A

Reading: 30 min 1x per week for 3A (3B students had assigned reading also, but no designated slot for it)

all the subjects easily identified

Bible: 4x per week @20 min per session (one was a Saturday session)

Picture Study: 1x per week for 20 minutes

Natural History: 1x per week for 20 minutes

Botany: 1x per week for 30 minutes

General Science: 1x per week for 30 minutes for 3A, optional for 3B

Arithmetic: 3-4 sessions of 30 min per week, plus an additional 30 minutes for 3B, and an additional Saturday session of 30 minutes

Geometry: 0-1x per week for 30 min, plus an additional 30 minutes for 3A

Algebra: 1x per week for 30 min

Citizenship and Plutarch's Lives: 30 min 2x per week (1 session each)

Geography: 30 min 2x per week, plus an additional 30 min Saturday session for 3A

Dictation and Writing: 2x per week for 30 min each

Composition: 3A- 1x per week for 30 minutes (optional for 3B)

Latin: 3B- 2x per week at 30 min each (one is a Saturday session)
             3A - 1x per week for 30 min (Saturday), 1x per week for 45 min

Grammar, Analysis, and Parsing: 2x week at 30 minutes each

French:  1x per week practice a French song
                 3B - 2x per week at 30 min each, plus a Saturday session of 30 min
                 3A - 2x per week at 45 min each, plus a Saturday session of 45 min

Drill, Singing, and Play: 30 minutes every day that lessons were done, an hour and 20 minutes into lesson time

Repetition: 3A - 5x per week, 3B - 4x per week @10 minutes per session, plus an additional Saturday session for both

Map of the World: 3B - 1x per week for 10 minutes 

History: 1x per week for 30 minutes for English history, 1x per week for 30 minutes for general history plus a Saturday session of 30 minutes

Italian or German: 2x per week for Form 3A, one session of 30 minutes and one of 45 minutes

Literature: 30 min 1x per week for 3B, 45 min 1x per week for 3A

Reading: 30 min 1x per week for 3A (3B students had assigned reading also, but no designated slot for it)

Some observations

Before we start to modernize this time table, I want to re-iterate a few things.

The 1933 timetable is an easier transition to the higher level grades than the 1928 one. I'm of the opinion that most students will be most successful if the transitions are small.

Remember that every day there is a mid-lesson break for movement, singing, and play.

Do not think that your young teen is too old for recess.

We tend to think that our 12-14 year-olds should be able to sit through a full morning of lessons, but this is not something that Charlotte Mason expected.

Please don't leave this part out. It provides a much needed refreshment in the midst of focused lessons.

In general, start off most days with spiritual instruction, then do math next while the mind is still very fresh.

Handicrafts, brushdrawing, drawing, painting, modeling, toymaking, hobbies, and the Nature Note Book were done in the afternoons.

These aren't scheduled, but again are not something that should be left out of a CM education.

In fact, the programmes for Form 3 state that "the work of the programmes cannot be fully carried out unless each child keeps a Nature Note Book and a Century book."

You should be insisting on a Nature Note Book at this age. It doesn't need to be (and in fact, shouldn't be!) an artist's portfolio of perfectly drawn specimen.

Think of it more as a field notebook, where the student draws quick sketches with arrows and bullet points of what she sees.

Saturday School

Not everyone did Saturday school, even if they were enrolled in the PNEU. As we go higher in the forms it gets harder to bring the schedules to a 5 day week, but it is still doable. If you are going to make a 4 day week, adjust subjects proportionately rather than leaving off entire subjects, if you can swing it.

But if you can't, don't sweat it either.

I never managed to do Latin with my older daughter, and we didn't do Plutarch until she was 15. As an adult, she is still an engaged citizen who understands both her rights and duties as a citizen of our country.

No on to creating a timetable that fits your life!

Modernizing the Time Table

Let's look at how we can use the time table as our guide but still adjust for modern life.

The first thing we'll do is to revise to a 5 day week rather than 6 day week. Very few homeschoolers do lessons 6 days a week. If you do, more power to you, and you have it easy to update the time table!

The Five Day School Week

On Saturdays, the schedule has Bible, math, Latin, Singing & Play, Repetition, General History, French, and Geography (3A).

Bible is done 3x per week otherwise, so it's safe to kick that Saturday session out.

Math, Repetition, and Singing & Play are also done daily, so we can delete those, too. However, since it's not just "Singing" but Sol-fa in particular, let's shift Sol-fa to the English Songs space and we'll just sing English Songs around the house throughout our days.

That leaves us with Latin, Week's Work, General History, French, and Geography.

Latin

What to do about Latin? There's only one other time Latin is done during the week, other than some repetition work for the second year (3A) students.

I would put this in the Italian or German space on Friday afternoons for Form 3A students, and not worry about it for the 3B students.

What are we doing then with Italian or German (second foreign language)?

In A Liberal Education for All on page 41, it has a note that "Less time may be given if desired in any Form to Science and Modern Languages and more to Classics and Mathematics. The English periods may not be altered."

Taking advantage of this, I would delete that second Italian/German slot for 3A in favor of Latin.

If you don't want to do that, you could either have your student do a stand-alone session of that second foreign language on a Saturday (this would work especially well if you do an online tutoring session, or if you're using the ULAT), or you could cut back on Latin in favor of that second Italian/German slot.

Week's Work

Keep this on Saturday, or even Friday evening. Just don't have regular lessons around it.

Regularly check on your child's household responsibilities as well as admire the handiwork he's doing. 

General History

General History is penciled in as "A" (Form 3A) in the 1928 time table, so again it would be safe to skip this extra period for 3B students.

There is still another time slot for General History on Thursdays, but it might be difficult to try to fit both Indian/World History and Ancients into that one slot.

However, on the 1928 time table, Picture Study is also penciled in as "afternoon". We can either shift Picture Study to afternoon entirely, or we could alternate Picture Study with an extra session of General History on opposite weeks.

Which way would be best? I would say that if you tend to skip Picture Study in the afternoons, then it would be better to schedule it in in the mornings.

French

As with Italian/German, I'd just throw this Saturday session right out.

If you want to get more practice in, then do a standalone session on Saturday instead of Italian/German.

Geography

Geography already has two 30 minute slots on Monday and Wednesday, and it's penciled in as "A" (for Form 3A) on the 1928 time table.

Let's just take that Saturday session out altogether. With those two time slots the rest of the week, you'll not even miss it.

For Form 3A students, do 10 minutes work on the world map once a week at lunchtime. It's scheduled in for Form 3B students, so that's already covered.

This is what we are left with.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Natural

History

Old testament

Picture Study or General History

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Drill

French Song and Play

Drill and

Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

11:30-12:15

French

Latin

Literature

French

A Latin

B Arithmetic

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A Italian or German

A Dictation and Writing

A
Composition

At lunch: 10 minutes Map of the World for 3A students, English songs throughout the day

Saturday: French or Italian

Modernizing the Subjects

Starting at the top, we'll change Old and New Testament to Spiritual or Moral Instruction, because Charlotte Mason's methods are for everyone, regardless of your religious background.

Instead of Repetition: Bible, your student could learn more poetry, speeches, motivational sayings, or spiritual passages from your own tradition.

We'll add the notes from the 1933 time table to the end.

French becomes the foreign language of your choice, and Italian or German becomes the 2nd foreign language of your choice. I'm gong to designate that as Repetition: Choice to make it easy.

Most of us don't do Drill anymore, but if you'd like to do it I found Swedish Drill Revisited, written by a Physical Therapist (I haven't used, but would love reviews if you do). Instead of specifying Drill, let's change that to Movement.

And there we have it: A modern Charlotte Mason timetable on a 5 day schedule.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9:00-9:20

Spiritual/

moral instruction

Spiritual/

moral instruction

Natural

History

Spiritual/

moral instruction

Picture Study or General History

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral & written)

Geometry or Arithmetic

Citizenship

Arithmetic (oral & written)

A Geometry

B Dictation

9:50-10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar

Algebra

General History

Plutarch's Lives

10:20-10:50

Movement and Play

English Song and Play

Play and Movement

1st foreign language Song and Play

Movement and

Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition

Poem

Repetition

Choice

Repetition Poem

A Repetition Latin

B Map of the World

Repetition

Choice

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

 Analysis and Parsing

Botany

11:30-12:15

1st foreign language

Latin

Literature

1st foreign language

A Latin

B Arithmetic

12:15-12:45

A Reading

A General Science

A 2nd foreign language

A Dictation and Writing

A
Composition

Notes -- No "Home Work." "Narration" (oral or written) at the end of each lesson. At least two written narrations each day. B works till 12 noon only.

Afternoon work -- 3A 10-minutes on Map of the World once per week.  Singing throughout the day. Handicrafts, drawing, Nature Note Book, Gardening, Reading (lit)

Saturday -- conversational foreign language practice (consider a Skype tutor or italki.com)

Making it your own

This is only a guide to one way to change the time tables. If you have multiple students, you'll need to adjust because there is only one of you, and you are not Super Woman.

If you want to do a 4 Day Schedule, I wouldn't advise just chopping off another day. Instead, try to trim back the subjects evenly so they stay proportionate.

I did just that this year by figuring out the percentage of time spent on each subject, then multiplying that percentage by the new amount of minutes we'd be working each week for my Form I student.

Everything got cut back a little, but we're still able to get everything in with no stress.

It did mean cutting back on the amount of reading in a term we're doing in some subjects, but that's simply an adjustment that has to be made.

We can't expect to cut down from a six day to a four day schedule yet still do the same amount of work.

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