How To

napping kids using a relaxed schedule

Learn to create a CM routine with no timers or alarms.

Does the thought of keeping a rigid school schedule with a timer make you feel like you're back in public school drudgery? Does it give you flashbacks to gray hallway lockers and cliques of popular kids laughing as they walk past you?

Does a niggling part of your brain tell you that if you don't follow a time table, you're just not doing it right?

You're not alone in your dislike of bells and rigid lesson times. 

This year, I've tried to keep the timetable for Form I students (ages 6-9) for my 7 year old, and when we're able to follow it, it works wonderfully. Short and varied lessons, and neither of us --usually -- gets bored.

But I'll be honest:  we started our first term the last week of July. It is now the last week of March, and we've just finished.

Our first term.

Why? Because many days I would look at that schedule, shudder, and think "hmmm.... those blinds look like they really need dusting."

And then my daughter would ask to please please please make some homemade whipped cream for the picnic she's planning... and who can resist that

Because what I'm really avoiding is the feeling of a straight-jacketing schedule. The feeling that someone else is telling me what to do when.

And then I came across this in an article in the Parents' Review, the periodical edited by Charlotte Mason until her death:

I arranged her day in the following manner:  From the age of five or six to nine--Scripture, hymn, and English reading with me at 10; easy French lessons with her French bonne at 10.30; walk at 11; sleep at 12 to 1, or as long as she wished. I may add here that she slept regularly up to the age of nine, when this rest was had by lying on the floor for thirty minutes or so in the schoolroom.  In the winter, if fine, another walk or run till 3 o'clock, when a young daily governess came for an hour and a half or so for easy lessons in geography, sums, music, and writing.

Parents' Review alternate schedule

A-ha!  Not everyone followed a strict time table, even back in Charlotte Mason's day.

Writing that out into a schedule of sorts, we get:

10:00 Scripture, hymn, and English reading

10:30 French lessons

11: 00 walk

12:00 nap

(outdoors until 3)

3:00-4:30 geography, math, music, writing

Put more simply, an hour of lessons in the morning and an hour and a half in the afternoon, with plenty of time for both sleep and to be outside.

The article doesn't say what "English reading" consists of. Is this learning to read and literature, or does it also include history, tales, and natural history readings? 

Regardless, this is a very simplified schedule that most of us can apply to our own lives.

It's a rhythm

What strikes me the most after its simplicity is the easy rhythm. There is a daily walk as well as a daily rest.

It's rhythmic. It's regular. It's routine.

Lessons are naturally kept short not because of a timer, but because there were time blocks-- that is, blocks of time that were designated for a set of subjects.

Scripture, hymn, and reading for half an hour, then the French teacher came. An hour and a half to do geography, math, music and writing in the late afternoons.

This builds flexibility while also keeping lessons short. Not an hour and a half of geography one day, but an hour and a half of geography, math, music, and writing.

AND. 

Not or

Do you know what else is nice about this? It's not a checklist.  It's not a list of page numbers or even an amount of time that "should" be spent in each subject. It's a block of time in which you work on certain subjects.

Maybe today you want to spend 20 minutes on geography, but tomorrow only 5 minutes, or none. That's ok. This rhythm flows with you.

I love this idea. It feels so organic and natural. Create time blocks and a general order of subjects, but leave the details loose.

This is another example of how you can make Charlotte Mason fit your lifestyle, rather than molding yourself to fit Charlotte Mason.

If you can't do a timetable-like schedule, it's ok to have rhythmic one instead. Keep lessons short, but make Charlotte Mason homeschooling work for you.

WANT TO REMEMBER THIS? SAVE THE Easy ELEMENTARY SCHEDULE TO YOUR FAVORITE HOMESCHOOLING PINTEREST BOARD!

easy charlotte mason schedule


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form 2 timetables schedule for featured image
Learn the frequency and duration of upper elementary subjects in a Charlotte Mason education, and update for today!

We've looked at modernizing the Form 1 time table (approx ages 6-9); now let's do the same thing to the Form 2 time table (approximate ages 9-12).

Looking for scheduling help for other ages?

In general, students were in Form II for a total of 3 years, approximate ages 9-12 depending on when their birthday was and also when they began with the PNEU (the educational program that Charlotte Mason administered to both homeschools and brick and mortar schools).

The first year of Form II was called Form IIB (or 2B).  This was a transition year from Form I, or also can be used as a transition to Charlotte Mason schooling if you and child are new to it.

Once a student completed that first year, they spent two years in Form IIA (or 2A).  The same books and pages would be read by all students in Form 2A, regardless of how long they had been in that Form.  A student who was doing 2A for the first year would be called 2A Lower, and the second year would be called 2A Upper.

I've taken this original from page 43 of the 1928 edition of A Liberal Education for All and brightened it:

charlotte mason form 2 time table

To make it easier to work with, I've retyped it into this table:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Citizenship

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

Arithmetic (oral and written)

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

Plutarch's Lives


A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition

Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

A General History

B History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A Arithmetic

B Dictation and Writing

French

N. B. -- No "Home Work."  "Narration" (oral or written) at the end of each lesson.  Form A two written narrations at the end of two lessons each day (10 min).  B. one.  

General Overview

The Form 2 timetable is a bit different from Form 1, but still retains some of the same elements.

While in Form 1 subjects were done in 10-20 minute increments, in Form 2 we extend those into 20-30 minute increments, with a single 10 minute segment for repetition or map work.

Just like in the other Forms, there is a start and end time for each subject. What that means is that we don't "do math" for 30 minutes.  We "do math" from 9:20-9:50.

What's the difference?  If something happens in the middle of math time, say the bathroom floods because the toddler threw a matchbox car down the toilet, you don't "finish the 30 minutes when the mess is cleaned up". 

Instead, when the mess is cleaned up you pick up the schedule at whatever time it is.  Yep, sometimes this will mean that you only actually do 5 or 10 minutes of math that day.

It's ok.

Charlotte Mason said that one time is not just as good as another to do things.  We don't push aside other subjects, other learning opportunities, other times of rest, to make way for academics.

Every part of the day is as important as the other parts. Rest is as important as studies. Family time is as important as rest.

Form 2 time tables are also a tad longer than Form 1. The students still start at 9, but instead of ending at 11:30, they now finish at 12 noon. That's 3 hours of lessons in the mornings.

Another difference is that there are fewer different things to be done each day. While Form I had 9 time slots (actually 10, but Drill and Play were broken into two slots while in Form II, they are put in one), Form 2 time table has only 7 time slots.

We still get a good deal of variety, but the attention span of a 9-12 year old is expected to be a bit longer than that of a 6-9 year old.

Yet another difference between Form I and Form II is that Form I had handicrafts, drawing, and brushdrawing as part of the morning lessons, while in Form II those are shifted to the afternoons.

Let's work through the table a few subjects a time and see where it leads us.

Bible and Natural History

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Citizenship

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

Arithmetic (oral and written)

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

Plutarch's Lives


A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition

Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

A General History

B History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A Arithmetic

B Dictation and Writing

French

Old Testament and New Testament alternated, doing each for 20 min each 2x per week, for a total of 20 min 4x per week of Bible reading.  Notice how four out of the six days, spiritual instruction starts off the day. 

Natural History is 2x per week for 30 minutes each.

Bible: 4x per week @20 min per session (one was a Saturday session)
Natural History: 2x per week @30 min per session

Arithmetic and Geography

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Citizenship

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

Arithmetic (oral and written)

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

Plutarch's Lives

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition

Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

A General History

B History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A Arithmetic

B Dictation and Writing

French

Math is a bit different depending on if your student is in Form 2B or 2A.  (2B is approx age 9-10, while 2A is approximate age 10-12.  Form 2B is the first year of doing the more difficult work of Form 2, so it's a transition year).

For Form 2B students, Math was all arithmetic, and done 5 times per week for 30 minutes each. Notice how, unlike Form 1, it is done always at the beginning of the school day, right after spiritual instruction, when the mind is still very fresh.  

In the 2nd year of Form 2A (also called IIA Upper), a student would add Geometry or Algebra to their day. This was done 1x per week for 30 minutes, and took one of the early arithmetic slots.

Interestingly, that same day there is another 30 minute arithmetic slot at the end of the day for 2A students.

It's unclear if this was only for the second-year students who were doing Geometry or Algebra earlier in the day, or if this was for all 2A students.

Math had become an increasingly important part of the day's work.

Geography was 2x per week for 30 minutes, plus working with the map of the world for 10 minutes once per week.

The PNEU programmes state "map questions to be answered from map before each lesson; then reading and narration; memory sketch maps.  All Geography to be learnt with atlas. Ten minutes' exercise on map of the world every week; know something about foreign places noticed in the current newspapers."

Map work was done at the start of each geography lesson, but there was an additional 10 minutes of work on the world map every week, with particular emphasis on places that were in the news.  Charlotte Mason had a really strong focus on both geography and current events!

Math:  5x per week for 30 minutes;  2nd year of 2A adds 30 min of geometry or algebra once per week; 1st year of 2A might have an additional 30 min of arithmetic instead of geometry. (One session was a Saturday session)

Geography: 2x per week at 30 minutes per session, plus 10 minutes world map work

Dictation, Writing or Transcription, and Latin

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Citizenship

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

Arithmetic (oral and written)

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

Plutarch's Lives


A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition

Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

A General History

B History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A Arithmetic

B Dictation and Writing

French

Here's another area where 2B is different than 2A.

Form 2B students had 4 sessions of 30 minutes each of Dictation and Writing, and 1 session of 30 minutes of Dictation and Transcription.

This is interesting.  What is the difference between Transcription and Writing?

The PNEU programmes have three headings for what we could consider "writing" for Form 2:

  • Writing
  • Dictation
  • Composition

Let's say that the "writing" part of "Dictation and Writing" falls under the Writing category. 

The PNEU instructions are:  Transcribe some of your favorite passages from the Shakespeare play or poetry books set.  Two perfectly written lines every day.

And then it gives the handwriting resources to be used, either A New Handwriting or Print-Form Writing Exercises.

If Writing equals "Transcribe some of your favorite passages", then how is that different from Wednesday's slot of Dictation and Transcription?

It could mean the second part, "Two perfectly written lines every day" but again, how is this different from transcription?  

It's possible that Writing refers to penmanship exercises, while Transcription is when the child is taking from his favorite passages.

It's possible, though I find it less likely, that Writing refers to Composition.

Composition in the programme says:

Stories from the term's reading. Children in B who cannot write easily may narrate part.

And again, very ambiguous.  Does this mean that "a child who cannot write stories easily may instead do written narrations as part?"  

Or does it mean that "a child who is not fluent at handwriting may orally narrate part"?

The fact that there is significantly more time for writing in 2B then in 2A could go either way. It could be that 2B student are writing more stories before going to the more academic subject of Latin 2A.

The Writing part of Dictation and Writing could refer to additional handwriting practice for Form 2B students, because they are still developing the fine motor skills needed for fluent handwriting.

This is different from Transcription in that with Transcription, the child chooses his favorite passages to copy rather than doing specific penmanship exercises.

When they move into 2A, students lose three of of the Dictation and Writing slots, and two of them are replaced with Latin. 

This is one of those times where you need to use your own judgment with your child. If you feel he needs more handwriting, then spend more time on handwriting in 2B. If he has handwriting down, but needs more explicit instruction in writing, like using more descriptive words in his narrations, then spend more time on that. You can mix and match depending on what your child needs.

2B -- Dictation and Writing: 4x per week @ 30 min each (includes one Saturday session)
           Dictation and Transcription:  1x per week @ 30 min

2A -- Dictation and Writing: 1x per week @ 30 min each
           Dictation and Transcription:  1x per week @ 30 min

Latin:  2A only, 2x per week @30 min per session (one was a Saturday session)

English Grammar and French

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Citizenship

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

Arithmetic (oral and written)

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

Plutarch's Lives


A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition

Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

A General History

B History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A Arithmetic

B Dictation and Writing

French

English Grammar is done 2x per week for 30 minutes.  You might be wondering, what's the difference between analysis and parsing?

That's a great question! (and one that I had to look up because I wasn't sure, either) 

Parse comes from the Latin pars orationis meaning parts of speech, while analysis refers to the parts of a sentence like subject, predicate, objects, and clauses.

So one day during the week you'd be concentrating on identifying the parts of speech, and another day you'd be focusing on identifying the parts of the sentence.  For Form 2, this would be subjects, simple predicates, and objects.

French was done 3x per week for 30 minutes each, plus one session of French Songs combined with Play (combined 30 minutes).

English Grammar, with Parsing and Anaylsis:  2x per week at 30 minutes per session

French:  3x per week at 30 min each (one Saturday session), plus one session of French songs

Drill, Play, and Singing

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Citizenship

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

Arithmetic (oral and written)

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

A Plutarch's Lives

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition

Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

A General History

B History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A Arithmetic

B Dictation and Writing

French

Unlike Form I that had two 15-minute sessions per day of either drill, play, or singing, in Form 2 those are combined for us into one 30 minute session each day.  I'm not sure why the change.

However, notice that every. single. day. there is time to play mid-way through the lessons, even for students as old as 12. 

Drill referred to Swedish Drill, a series of specific movements meant to strengthen and tone and based on military drill. The Manual of Swedish Drill for Teachers and Students is one resource that was available in the time period.

Drill was done 3x per week, on alternating days.   The other days were singing, either English songs, French songs, or sol-fa (singing instruction based on the Curwen method).

Regardless, every day had a half hour movement, singing, and play break midway through the lesson time.

Start with an hour and twenty minutes of lessons, then this half hour break, then an additional hour and ten minutes of lessons.

Drill, singing, & play:  6x per week (daily) for 30 minutes

Repetition and Map Work

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Citizenship

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

Arithmetic (oral and written)

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

A Plutarch's Lives

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition

Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

A General History

B History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A Arithmetic

B Dictation and Writing

French

Right after the 30 minute movement break, we start with 10 minutes of something easy. Repetition is either pure memorization, or reciting poems or passages with feeling while the student is reading, much like public speaking practice.

Notice that this is a 10 minute transition from play, so that our students aren't expected to come in from playing and immediately sit down to a grammar or geography lesson.

Repetition is almost a mindless task.  This small interlude lets the body settle down while at the same time not being too taxing on the brain.

Poetry is alternated with Bible passages, and Old Testament is alternated with New Testament.  Variety, variety, variety.

Once a week there is a 10 minute session on the map of the world.  Map work is also done at the start of every geography lesson, but this is a specific 10 minute session to look at the entire world and get familiar with it.

The last Repetition says Week's Work after it.  There is nothing under Work on the on the PNEU programmes (the term programs that were sent to the homeschools and other schools that Charlotte Mason's program administered) that could be considered repetition.

It may be that since the items under "Work" were done in the afternoons (note that there is no longer a space for Handwork during the lessons, though there was in Form I), that this slot was an opportunity for kids to show their parents what they had worked on during the week.

Repetition: 4x per week for 10 minutes, with an extra Saturday session of 10 minutes

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

History and Reading

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Citizenship

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

Arithmetic (oral and written)

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

A Plutarch's Lives

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition

Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

A General History

B History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A Arithmetic

B Dictation and Writing

French

Here's something noteworthy. People often ask how to do the multiple streams of history in a Charlotte Mason education. The answer is in the timetables.

The different streams were done on different days of the week. The English History book was read on Tuesday, the French History book was read on Thursday, and Saturday was for Ancient history or for 3B, possibly catching up or working on the Book of Centuries.

English History:  1x per week for 30 minutes, with an extra Saturday session for 2B

French History:  1x per week for 30 minutes.

General History:  1x per week for 30 minutes for Form 2A (Saturday session)

Reading:  1x per week for 30 minutes

Citizenship, Plutarch's Lives, and Picture Study

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Citizenship

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

Arithmetic (oral and written)

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

A Plutarch's Lives

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition

Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

A General History

B History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A Arithmetic

B Dictation and Writing

French

Citizenship for 20 minutes 1x per week and Plutarch's Lives for Form 2A for 30 minutes 1x per week.

Here's an interesting tidbit:  We also have access to A Liberal Education for All with a 1933 publication date (the timetable we are using here is from 1928), and in that one it has A: Plutarch's Lives, B: Stories from the History of Rome in the Friday slot.

There was no citizenship book for the B level in the programmes other than Stories from the History of Rome.

This means that that 20 minute slot first thing Wednesday morning is open for 2B to do with what we wish.  Or, if you are able to easily get Stories from the History of Rome done in 20 minutes, you have a 30 minute slot on Friday that is free.

Picture Study is once again scheduled into the day, but though in Form I it was only for a 10 minute slot, in Form 2 it is lengthened to 20 minutes.  We are expecting a longer look, more in depth narrations, and more discussion of the picture from this age group than we did for Form I.

If you're wondering how to do Picture Study with this age group, here are instructions using a Parents' Review article as a guide: Artist Study with Charlotte Mason.

Citizenship: 1x per week for 20 minutes

Plutarch's Lives (2A):  1x per week for 30 minutes

Picture Study: 1x per week for 20 minutes

Each subject easily identifiable:

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

Natural History: 2x per week @30 min per session

Math:  5x per week for 30 minutes;  2nd year of 2A adds 30 min of geometry or algebra once per week; 1st year of 2A might have an additional 30 min of arithmetic instead of geometry. (One session was a Saturday session)

Geography: 2x per week at 30 minutes per session, plus 10 minutes world map work

2B -- Dictation and Writing: 4x per week @ 30 min each (includes one Saturday session)
           Dictation and Transcription:  1x per week @ 30 min

2A -- Dictation and Writing: 1x per week @ 30 min each
           Dictation and Transcription:  1x per week @ 30 min

Latin:  2A only, 2x per week @30 min per session (one was a Saturday session)

English Grammar, with Parsing and Anaylsis:  2x per week at 30 minutes per session

French:  3x per week at 30 min each (one Saturday session), plus one session of French songs

Drill, singing, & play:  6x per week (daily) for 30 minutes

Repetition: 4x per week for 10 minutes, with an extra Saturday session of 10 minutes

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

English History:  1x per week for 30 minutes, with an extra Saturday session for 2B

French History:  1x per week for 30 minutes.

General History:  1x per week for 30 minutes for Form 2A (Saturday session)

Reading:  1x per week for 30 minutes

Citizenship: 1x per week for 20 minutes

Plutarch's Lives (2A):  1x per week for 30 minutes

Picture Study: 1x per week for 20 minutes

Important observations

A few observations I'd like to make about the Form II timetables:

Movement and Play

Even at this age, 9-12 years old, there is still half an hour of movement, singing, and play every day midway through lessons. We tend to think that kids at 10 or 11 "should" be able to sit through 2 1/2 hours of lessons easily, but this is not something that Charlotte Mason expected.

Play was

Every. 

Single. 

Day.

Handicrafts and other artistic pursuits

Handicrafts, brushdrawing, and drawing are no longer scheduled during morning lesson time. This is expected to be done in the afternoons. Presumably the habit has already been set in the earlier years. If not, definitely make it a point to schedule handicrafts, art, and music lessons for the afternoons.

If you find that you are simply never getting to them, then cut back on a few of the morning "academic" subjects and slide handicrafts, art, and music into the mornings. These are just as important as the academic lessons in a CM education.

Saturday School

Not everyone did Saturday School, even if they were enrolled in the PNEU. Though not as easy to cut out as it was in Form I, we can still do it.

Reading

Reading is only scheduled for 30 minutes once per week.  Lighter portions were meant to be read in evenings, on weekends, holidays, and breaks.  This 30 minute weekly session may have been for the more difficult reading like Bulfinch's Mythology, or for focused instruction.

If your child is not reading easily yet, you will want to cut back on a few other subjects to get the daily reading practice and instruction in.  

Similarities to Form I

Bible/spiritual training still starts off most days. There is still that half hour per day for movement and play.  

We can also see that the "B" level is, like Form 1B, a transition year. It is a slightly lighter year than the two years of Form 2A, and serves to transition the student from the easier work of Form 1 to the more demanding work and schedule of Form 2.

Modernizing the Time Table

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

As with Form I, the first thing we'll do is trim it back from a 6-day week to a 5-day week. Realistically, very few of us are doing school six days per week.

For Saturday, we have Bible, math, Latin or dictation/writing, sol-fa and play, repetition - week's work, history, and French.

Bible, math, repetition, and dictation/writing for 2B are all done several other times throughout the week, so we can feel comfortable just cutting those out.

This leaves Latin for 2A, Sol-fa, history, and French. 

We have 3 days of Drill, so I'd put swap out one of those for Sol-fa.  Either that, or shift English Song (folk songs) to be sung while doing chores or dishes, and put Sol-fa in that place.

History I don't feel comfortable just chopping off, especially since Form 2A's General History doesn't show up any other place.

Where else can we find some extra time?

We have a lot of Math slots, and 2A has an extra one even over 2B.   What if we take that extra Friday Math out?

We also have both a Citizenship slot and one for Plutarch's Lives (2A only).  Let's combine them into Citizenship/Plutarch's Lives (alternate these for 2A) so we free up the 20 minute Citizenship slot.

French is done 2x per week without the Saturday slot.  This could just be cut off, but we also are losing a Latin slot for 2A.  I would put either Latin or French in the Friday Arithmetic place.

Which one?  Well, depends which is more important to you:  more time on Latin or more time on a living foreign language?  That's a decision only you can make.

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

Citizenship

Old testament

Picture Study

New Testament

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

Arithmetic (oral and written)

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

A Plutarch's Lives


A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

English Song and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

Repetition

Week's Work

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

A General History

B History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A Arithmetic

B Dictation and Writing

French

Once we make those changes, it looks like this:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

A General History

B History

Old testament

Picture Study

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

French History

Plutarch's Lives/ Citizenship 


10:20-10:50

Drill and Play

Sol-fa and Play

Drill and Play

French Song and Play

Drill and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible (O.T.)

Repetition Poem

Map of the World

Repetition Bible (N.T.)

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

11:30-12:00

French

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

French

A French or Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Modernizing the subjects

Now let's modernize the subjects.  We did this for the Form I time tables, too, and it's pretty much the same.

Bible

We know that Charlotte Mason was Christian, but that doesn't mean we have to be Christian in order to use her method.  Read this blog post for a more in-depth look at my thoughts on this.

What do we do then if not Bible?

  • Your own spiritual or religious instruction
  • Moral training
  • Philosophy, logic, or ethics
  • World religions
  • Stories about your ancestors

Repetition

Rather than Repetition Poem and Bible, do recitations (either memorized or not) of speeches, poetry, or inspirational passages.  

Anything that you or your child feels is worth memorizing, from the Kings and Queens of England to the Declaration of Independence to a Shakespearean speech to ...

your favorite passage from Twilight (yes, I said it).

French

Whatever foreign language you would like to study, if you do not want to study French.

French History is what we at Wildwood Curriculum call "Second History". It is the history of another country that is tied to yours, either politically or geographically or both. This could be a country whose history is tied to the place where you live, or even one that is tied to your ancestors (or you, if you are an immigrant).

In the Southwest United States, this "Second History" could be Britain because of the ties to the founding of the U.S. Government, Spain or Mexico because of historical ties of the land and many people who live here, or Poland if your family recently immigrated from that country.

Drill

Drill was not modern drilling of facts, but was Swedish Drill and Drill in Good Manners. Swedish Drill was based on military movements and calisthenics, also called Swedish Gymnastics, and was specific muscle movements rather than free play.

You could do any sort of mindful movement here like yoga or dance, or you could just extend the play break to a full half hour.  I would, however, make sure that this is a movement break and not a build-a-lego-tower break.

New Time Table for Today

After we take off Saturday, shift a few of those subjects to the week, and modernize the remaining subjects, this is what we have:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9:00-9:20

Spiritual or Moral instruction

Spiiritual or Moral instruction

A General History

B History

Spiritual or Moral instruction

Picture Study

9:20-9:50

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Natural History

Arithmetic (oral and written)

Arithmetic  or II.A (2nd year) Geometry or Algebra

9:50-

10:20

Dictation and Writing

English Grammar and Parsing

Dictation and Transcription

Second

History

Plutarch's Lives/ Citizenship 


10:20-10:50

Movement and Play

Sol-fa and Play

Movement and Play

Foreign Language Song and Play

Movement and Play

10:50-11:00

Repetition 

Repetition 

Repetition 

Map of the World

Repetition 

11:00-11:30

Geography

English History

Geography

English Grammar and Analysis

Natural History

11:30-12:00

Foreign Language

A Latin

B Dictation and Writing

Reading

Foreign Language

A Latin or Foreign Language

B Dictation and Writing

Spiritual or moral instruction: 3x per week @20 min per session

Natural History: 2x per week @30 min per session

Math:  4x per week for 30 minutes

Geography: 2x per week at 30 minutes per session, plus 10 minutes world map work

2B -- Dictation and Writing: 3x per week @ 30 min each
           Dictation and Transcription:  1x per week @ 30 min

2A -- Dictation and Writing: 1x per week @ 30 min each
           Dictation and Transcription:  1x per week @ 30 min

Latin:  2A only, 1-2x per week @30 min per session

English Grammar, with Parsing and Anaylsis:  2x per week at 30 minutes per session

Foreign Language:  2-3x per week at 30 min each, plus one session of Foreign Language songs

Movement, singing, & play:  5x per week (daily) for 30 minutes

Repetition: 4x per week for 10 minutes

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

English History:  1x per week for 30 minutes, 1x per week for 20 minutes for 2B (if your 2B student doesn't need this extra 20 minutes, you could add an extra session of Foreign Language here)

Second History:  1x per week for 30 minutes.

General History:  1x per week for 20 minutes for Form 2A

Reading:  1x per week for 30 minutes

Citizenship/Plutarch's Lives: 1x per week for 30 minutes

Picture Study: 1x per week for 20 minutes

There should be a half hour movement/singing/play break midway through the lessons.

By dropping Saturday and modernizing the subjects, you can make a schedule that will work for you.

Play around with it.  Use this as a template or as-is. Adjust it as needed for you family and your situation. 

If you need to cut back even further to a 4 day week, or you have multiple children and so need to trim, try to cut fairly evenly across the board. Perhaps do some things every other week rather than weekly. Trim page counts rather than letting the lessons drag on all day.

Remember that it's not just your kids who need down time.  You do, too.

Feel free to play around with this schedule, tweaking where needed. Make it work for you.

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pinterest clock with charlotte mason late elementary modern schedule
pinterest image How to make Charlotte Mason's elemenary schedules work for you

are lessons required at 6

Your six year old isn’t ready for lessons – is she doomed to a life of failure?

Your little one just turned 6 years old and you can finally start homeschooling! You’ve been waiting for this for months, dutifully following Charlotte Mason’s suggestion to delay academics until 6, and now you’re raring to go.

At first everything was fine. You were excited, little Junior was excited … but soon (was it days? weeks?) your once eager student started hiding.

Throwing himself backwards on the couch and screaming when you brought out the math book.

Putting his fingers in his ears and singing “La La La La Laaaaaaa” at the top of his lungs.

What is wrong? Are you just not cut out to homeschool?

Nah… what’s really happening is that your eager child is just not ready for formal lessons.

If you’ve read up on Charlotte Mason and have a young child, you know that she opposed formal lessons for children younger than six years old.

I know it’s tough to wait when you’re chomping at the bit to offer the richness of a CM education to your child. Some moms start sit-down lessons the month – or even week – their child turns that magical age.

But is this really the right choice?

Many children simply aren’t ready for academic sit-down lessons when they are newly six years old. Six and a half or even fully seven is often a much better choice for most. I’m not a neuro-anything-expert, but it has to do with brain development. If your child isn’t ready, it doesn’t mean that he or she will never be ready.

(Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.)

How to know if your child isn’t ready for lessons

The first question you’re probably asking right now is, “But how do I know if my child isn’t ready?”

There are no hard and fast rules here. In general though if you see any of the following signs:

  • resistance to lessons
  • tears (theirs or yours)
  • throwing himself backwards on the couch and screaming
  • spinning in circles laughing and not paying attention
  • running out of the room and giggling

or any variation thereof… wait for a few more months.

… Even if your child has already been to public or private school and could sit through the entire day there.

… Even if your child has made it through a few weeks or even a few months compliantly and with flying colors.

Even if you are sure that your child is different and is perfectly capable at the ripe old age of six of doing this thing and is simply choosing not to ….

Wait.

But won’t I be sentencing my child to a life of “Behind” if we wait?

In a word, no.

Children catch up quickly when they are ready.

Not only that, but you can always skip ahead if you feel your child is ready for higher level work at a later time. Don’t worry about missing things – there is no way that you can possibly learn All the Things in even an entire lifetime.

Remember that “can start at six” or “children begin at six” doesn’t equal “must start at six” or “all children regardless of circumstances or readiness must begin at six or they will be lifelong failures and eating Cheetohs in their parents’ basement when they’re 42.

Would you ever tell a mother with a 10 year old child who wants to bring Charlotte Mason into their homeschool, “Nope, sorry. If you didn’t start when your kid was 6, there’s no way it will work now. You’ll have to find a different educational philosophy.”

It sounds absurd when we frame it that way, doesn’t it?

Then why do we think that our own children must definitely start at six years old?

What would Charlotte do?

Not all students entered the PNEU schools at 6 years old. Some started at 10 or 12 or even later. (The PNEU was the correspondence-type school that Charlotte Mason administered)

We know that in general, children were put in the form appropriate to their age range. However, sometimes a student would be started in a lower form. This student, she says, always interacted with the material in a manner appropriate to his age, regardless of the difficulty of the material.

What does this mean to us? It means that if you wait a year until your child is 7, you will probably want to start your child in Form IB.

But if you wait until your child is 8 or 9, you wouldn’t start at the very beginning of a curriculum in IB (1st year) but instead in IA (2nd or 3rd year) or perhaps even IIB (4th year), depending on where you think your 9 year old child would fit the best.

But remember this: year or form levels in a Charlotte Mason education are not grade levels.

What should I do if not lessons, then?

I don’t recommend that you do absolutely nothing.

Though this can be a viable option.

Instead, give your child that fertile ground in which to grow.

  • Develop a healthy home rhythm with regularity and simplicity if you don’t already have one. (Not sure how? Find out in How to Create a Healthy Home Rhythm)
  • Spend as much time in nature as you can. If you don’t already own the book Coyote’s Guide to Nature Connection by Jon Young, I highly recommend that you get it. If you’re not in the US and shipping is too expensive, you can get it in .pdf form from 8Shields.org
  • Play with letters. Letter blocks, letter tiles, point out letters, make them with pasta shells or draw them in the sand. Just play.
  • Count everything. Sparrows, eggs, ants, acorns. Make up simple math problems using these, but do it in a natural way. “If Henrietta hadn’t laid an egg today, how many eggs would we have?”
  • Use Math Games by Peggy Kaye
  • Tell stories. Then tell them again.
  • Play in sand and mud and water. Go to swimming lessons.
  • Work through the free Phonemic Awareness curriculum at Sight Words
  • Sing. Always. Sing while folding laundry, while kneading bread, and while finger knitting. Sing when you’re getting dressed. Just sing.

If you’re looking for more handholding, A Quiet Growing Time: Charlotte Mason with Your 3 to 6 Year Old is full of practical ideas to use with your children who aren’t yet doing academic lessons.

catching snake in a jar nature study

Go see children’s theater. Go to museums. Go to homeschool park days. Visit local fields to learn field crops in all stages of growth. Draw lizards in a notebook and let your child dictate to you what to write in it. Talk about the natural objects your child finds.

Don’t Force Your Flowers Before They’re Ready

Not being ready for lessons at six doesn’t mean your child is a failure, or has a lower-than-average-IQ. It doesn’t mean that you’re a failure at being a homeschool mom, or that CM won’t work for you.

It just means that your child needs a bit more time.

Remember that children are like flowers and they will bloom when they are ready. We simply provide fertile ground and nourishment.

Want to remember this? Pin it to your favorite homeschooling Pinterest board!

form I early elementary timetables alarm clock

Learn the frequency and duration of early elementary subjects in a Charlotte Mason education, and update for modern life!

Have you looked at the time tables but are having trouble translating it to our modern world? Does it all look like a bunch of random subjects? What do you do if you don't want to do school six days a week?

Let's break down the timetable into manageable pieces and figure out how to bring it to our modern life.

(Just want to see the 5-day schedule? Jump to it)

We'll start with the originals. They can be found in A Liberal Education for All at this link. We are only going to talk about Form I (approximate ages 6-9) in this post.

Looking for other Forms?

Form II (approximate ages 9-12) Timetables for Today
Form III (approx ages 12-14) Schedules for Today

To start, for ease of use, I've transcribed Form I into this table:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

N.B. -- No "Home Work." "Narration" (Oral) at the end of each lesson. Form Upper I.A., an occasional written narration.

General overview

The first thing you might notice is that the increments are 10, 15, and 20 minutes. No lessons for these early elementary years are over 20 minutes.

The second thing you might notice is that there is a specific time for each subject. In other words, we don't "do math" for 20 minutes. We "do math" from 10:00-10:20. Practically speaking, that means that if your child is taking a long time to do his work, you don't do "what should take you 20 minutes if you would just focus." When 10:20 comes around, you stop math for the day.

It also means that if the baby has a poop explosion in the middle of your reading lesson and it takes 45 minutes to clean everything up, you check your timetable for where you would be when you're ready to start lessons again, not pick up where you left off so that you're still doing lessons at 3 PM.

Let's go through the time table a few subjects at a time, breaking it down to easily manageable chunks.

Bible and Geography

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Old Testament and New Testament were alternated, doing each 2x per week for 20 minutes.  Notice how in general, spiritual instruction started off the day.

Geography was two times per week for 20 minutes each.

Bible: 4x per week @20 min per session

Geography: 2x per week @20 min per session

OVERWHELMED? READ: AN EASY AND RELAXED ELEMENTARY SCHEDULE

Math and Reading

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Number was what Math was called in this Form. Like Reading, it was done every day, but the duration varied. For 4 days it was a 20 minute session, one day was 10 minutes, and then Saturday was 20 minutes. Also note how the time slot changed throughout the week. Variety is key at this age.

Reading was also daily, with a little bit of a twist. Saturday had a regular lesson, but for the IB students (first year, approx age 6-7), there was an extra lesson that day. Note also how it wasn't back-to-back; there is an hour and a half between those two lessons with a singing and movement break in-between, and the second Saturday session was only 10 minutes.

Math: 4x per week @20 min each, 1x per week @10 min, plus a 20 min Saturday session

Reading: 2x per week @10 min each, 3x per week @ 20 min each, plus a 10 min Saturday session and for Form IB (6-7 yo) an extra 20 min Saturday session on top of that.

History and Repetition

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

History only shows up here once or twice. One time per week for 20 minutes, then an additional Saturday session for the Form IA (approx ages 7-9) students for 20 minutes. 

Do you see that? History is only once per week. Twice per week MAX. When many people think of Charlotte Mason education, they think it's heavy on history, but this shows that it's not. Geography is done more often than history in these early years!

Next we'll look at Repetition. As you can see, it was done four times per week for only 10 minutes, and the material was varied.In the PNEU programmes (the term curricula sent out to Charlotte Mason's homeschools and member schools), each term usually had 1-2 hymns, a Psalm, a poem of the child's choice, a passage from the Old Testament and one from the Gospels to learn.

History: Form IB - 1x per week @20 min

                   Form IA - 1x per week @20 min, plus a 20 min Saturday session

Repetition: 4x per week @ 10 min each

Natural History and French

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Natural History (science): 2x at 20 min each

French: 3x @ 10 min each, plus a 10 min Saturday session and 15 min of singing French songs

Handicraft and Tales

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Handicrafts: 2x per week for 10 min each, 2x per week for 20 min each, plus a Saturday session of 20 minutes

Tales: 2x per week for 20 min each. In Form IB, there weren't enough Tales scheduled to fill these two slots every week (3 fairy tales and 3 Aesop's fables per term). What I do is use that extra time to retell the fairy tale, to let them really sink in to my child.

Writing and Picture Study

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Picture Study: 1x per week for 10 min

Writing: 5x per week for 10 min each, plus Saturday session of 10 min

Drawing, Brush-drawing, and Week's Work

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Week's Work: 1 Saturday session of 20 minutes. What is Week's Work? My best supposition is that it covered the material in the PNEU programmes labeled "Work". That is, helping in house and garden, as well as creating things. Since we have 5 slots for Handicrafts, my assumption is that this is deliberate instruction in "help in house and garden".

Drawing: 1x per week for 10 min

Brush-drawing: 1x per week for 10 min, plus a 10 min Saturday session

I want you to note where these drawing times are in the table. They are all towards the very end of the lesson day when attention is flagging. A little art break, particularly after 20 min of math when math is near the end of the lesson period. After these drawing and painting sessions there is only a single ten minute session left in the school day.

Drill, Sol-fa, Play, Dancing

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

This is a more difficult set to analyze for the simple reason that so much of it is "or". Play OR drill. Dancing OR play. All of these are also the only ones that are 15 minutes instead of 10 or 20 minute lessons.

Drill: 3-5 days per week at 15 min each, with an additional Saturday session

Sol-fa or singing, including French songs: 2x per week @15 min each, plus Saturday for 15 min

Play: Daily for 15 minutes, as an option.

Dancing: 3 times a week for 15 minutes as another option

One thing I really want you to pay attention to here: dancing, play, drill or singing constituted a 30 minute movement break in the middle of every school day.

Each subject easily identifiable:

Bible: 4x per week @20 min per session

Geography: 2x per week @20 min per session

Math: 4x per week @20 min each, 1x per week @10 min, plus a 20 min Saturday session

Reading: 2x per week @10 min each, 3x per week @ 20 min each, plus a 10 min Saturday session and for Form IB (6-7 yo) an extra 20 min Saturday session

History: Form IB - 1x per week @20 min

                   Form IA - 1x per week @20 min, plus a 20 min Saturday session

Repetition: 4x per week @ 10 min each

Natural History (science): 2x at 20 min each

French: 3x @ 10 min each, plus a 10 min Saturday session and 15 min of singing French songs

Handicrafts: 2x per week for 10 min each, 2x per week for 20 min each, plus a Saturday session of 20 minutes

Tales: 2x per week for 20 min each.

Picture Study: 1x per week for 10 min

Writing: 5x per week for 10 min each, plus Saturday session of 10 min

Drawing: 1x per week for 10 min

Week's Work: 1 Saturday session of 20 minutes

Brush-drawing: 1x per week for 10 min, plus a 10 min Saturday session

Drill: 3-5 days per week at 15 min each, with an additional Saturday session

Sol-fa or singing, including French songs: 2x per week @15 min each, plus Saturday for 15 min

Play: Daily for 15 minutes, as an option.

Dancing: 3 times a week for 15 minutes as another option

Important observations

A few important observations I'd like to make about the timetables:

Movement and play

There is a full half hour movement and play break every day a little more than halfway through the lessons. After an hour and 40 minutes, the kids have a 30 minute movement/singing/play break, then come back to another 40 minutes of lessons.

Immediately after the play break they have a longer lesson of 20 minutes, then the last two lessons of the day are both short ones at 10 minutes each. 

Saturday School

Not everyone did Saturday school, and if you notice what was scheduled for Saturdays, it's nothing that can't be cut out. An extra session of reading, writing, and arithmetic, French, handicrafts, art. Help in house and garden.

So easy to just chop off that day and not even miss it!

Handicrafts

Four to five times per week! This is more than Geography, more than History, more than Natural History.

If you want to make a hierarchy of importance based on frequency and length of time, it would go like this

Math --> Reading --> Writing --> Bible --> Handicrafts --> Everything else

Handicrafts aren't something to be tacked on when we get around to it. It should be an integral part of our Charlotte Mason life!

Specific lesson times

Notice also that there are specific times for lessons. Not "10 min: reading" but "11:20-11:30: reading".

Why is this important? Because it's so easy to set a timer for 10 minutes of a subject, and then when the timer goes off, swap out the books, run to the bathroom, get set up for the next subject ... then start the timer for the next 10 minutes. In the meantime, you've lost several minutes of transition. This can add up to an extra half hour over the course of your day, making lessons drag on much longer than the 2.5 hours we'd like.

Modernizing the timetable

The first thing we'll do is trim this back from 6 days down to 5 days. Realistically, there are very, very few of us who do lessons 6 days per week.

Now, this Form is really easy to do that with because of the nature of the subjects for Saturday -- they are all things that you just work on "the next thing" without an assigned number of pages per term to get through, other than a slot of History for Form IA (approx ages 7-9).

We can just cut Saturday right off and never know it's missing. That extra day of History for Form IA? Don't sweat it. Really.

If you just can't let go of that 20 minutes of history, then one day a week read from your history book in the evenings or as a bedtime story. 

Do 20 minutes of chores or gardening with your kids over the weekend, and you're golden.

And for the IA students, slide an extra day of Sol-fa in as an option.

That brings us to this:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill or Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Modernize the subjects

Let's start swapping out subjects now, shall we?

Bible

We know that Charlotte Mason was Christian, but that doesn't mean that you need to be Christian in order to use her methods. Read this blog post for a more in-depth look at my thoughts on this.

What could those of us who don't want to use the Bible -- or use it so often -- do in the Bible slots?

  • Your own religious instruction
  • Your own spiritual instruction
  • Moral training
  • world religions
  • stories about your ancestors
  • anything that ties in with your own spiritual path

Repetition

Rather than Repetition Bible, Poem, and Hymn, instead just keep this a repetition slot of poetry, songs you find inspirational, inspirational speech excerpts or motivational sayings. You'll want to keep these age-appropriate, so for my 7 year old we are doing poetry memorization for about 5 minutes and then reading poetry the other 5 minutes.

French

Just change to this whatever foreign language you want to study with your children.

Drill

Drill was Swedish Drill and "Drill in Good Manners". Because this is a movement break, swap out Drill with yoga or another physical activity. 

Or, just give your child a full half-hour break depending on the weather and your child's needs. For IB (approx age 6-7), we do a half-hour play break every day at this time. It also gives Mama a rest!

New Time Table for today

After we chop off Saturday and swap out the subjects to modernize it, this is what we end up with:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9:00-9:20

Spiritual or moral instruction

Spiritual or moral instruction

History

Spiritual or moral instruction

Spiritual or moral instruction

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition 

Repetition 

Repetition 

Math

Repetition 

9:50-10:00

Foreign Language

Writing

Foreign Language

Foreign Language

Picture Study

10:00-10:20

Math

Handicrafts

Math

Handicrafts

Math

10:20-10:35

Movement or play

Sol-fa (singing instruction)

Movement or Play

Foreign Language Song

Sol-fa or Movement

10:35-10:50

Movement or Play

Movement or Play

Movement or Play

Movement or Play

Movement or Play

10:50-11:10

Tales

Math

Geography

Tales

Natural History

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Spiritual or moral instruction: 4x per week @20 min per session

Geography: 2x per week @20 min per session

Math: 4x per week @20 min each, 1x per week @10 min

Reading: 2x per week @10 min each, 3x per week @ 20 min each

History: 1x per week @20 min

                   Form IA - optional 1x per week evening session of 20 minutes

Repetition: 4x per week @ 10 min each

Natural History (science): 2x at 20 min each

Foreign language: 3x @ 10 min each, plus 15 min of singing French songs

Handicrafts: 2x per week for 10 min each, 2x per week for 20 min each

Tales: 2x per week for 20 min each.

Picture Study: 1x per week for 10 min

Writing: 5x per week for 10 min each

Drawing: 1x per week for 10 min

Week's Work: help in house or garden on the weekend

Brush-drawing: 1x per week for 10 min

Movement: 3-5 days per week at 15-30 min each

Sol-fa or singing, including French songs: 2x per week @15 min each

Play: Daily for 15 minutes, as an option

There should be a half hour movement/play/singing break a little more than midway through the day.

By dropping Saturday and modernizing the subjects, you can make a schedule that will work for you. Use this as a template to create your own schedule, or use it exactly as written (that's what I do!)

Feel free to play around with it, moving subjects around for what works for your family. Give it at least two weeks before tweaking though, to give yourself time to get into a new routine.

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One of the most frequently asked question by those new to Charlotte Mason is, “what exactly is a living book?”

What does that term mean?

How do I know if a book is living?

When I first started learning about Charlotte Mason through curricula that billed itself as CM (but actually wasn’t), and reading blogs here and there, I developed the idea that living book meant historical fiction.

Other places I’ve seen people say that a living book is wrapped in a fictional story, or any book that ‘draws a reader in’ is living.

This leads to the erroneous conclusion that all you have to do to make a bunch of facts into a living book is to write them in a fictional story, or even that junk-food type books that kids love (Junie B Jones, Magic Treehouse) are living books.

But just because a child loves a book doesn’t mean it’s a living book.

My definition of a living book

Here is my own short definition:

A living book is a book of literary quality, often written for a popular audience by a single author (sometimes two) who is passionate about his subject.  It transmits ideas rather than just facts, and feeds the mind.

Let’s take that definition bit by bit.

  • A living book is a book

I think we should start here — by definition, a living book is a book.  Not a movie. Not a youtube video or documentary. Not a radio production or a video game.

A living book is a book.

  • Next, “of literary quality

This does not mean… ‘anything wrapped in a story shell.’

…It doesn’t mean any book that is narrative.

…It doesn’t mean any book that ‘draws a child in.’

It is a book of literary quality.

Beautiful writing.  Varied sentences. Wide and rich vocabulary.

It is a book that you as an adult love to read as much as your children do, because the quality of the writing is excellent.

“A children’s story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children’s story in the slightest.” — C. S. Lewis

I will say the same thing about a living book.  If you don’t enjoy it as an adult, if it is a pain to slog through because the writing is so stilted or written on such a low level, it is not of literary quality.

Continuing —

  • often written for a popular audience by a single author who loves his subject

Not a book written by committee.  Not a textbook. Not meant for ‘educational purposes only.’

This is a book that is written with such passion and joy, and written so lucidly, that everyone can enjoy it.

Even if they aren’t assigned it for school.  Especially if they aren’t assigned it for school!

It is not a lecture that has been written down.

If you open up a book, read a few pages, and would never think of reading it if you weren’t required to, then put it back.

Have you ever known a person who you could listen to them talk for hours, no matter the subject, because they had such a way with words that listening was a delight?  Or that was able to transmit their enthusiasm and draw you in to their subject even when you had no prior interest in it?

Or that could take anything and wrap it in a story of personal anecdote so skillfully that you hardly even realized you were learning because they were such a joy to listen to?

That’s what you want out of a book.

You want a book that grabs you by the collar, pulls you in, and won’t let go, even if you have no prior interest in the subject.   Because the author writes so well.

 

  • It transmits ideas rather than just facts.

This is a harder one to define.  Ideas. But let’s take a look at some books that just transmit facts and pull kids in, for comparison.

The most common style of books you’ll find in the non-fiction children’s section these days is the DK Eyewitness style.  They are not all published by DK, but they share the style.

Lots of pictures.  Little snippets of text.  Fact. Fact. Amazing fact! More pictures.

Now, look at a page of this book.  Take out all the pictures, and just leave the text.  Since there are often text boxes scattered all over the page with one or two central paragraphs, you’ll need to mentally draw those odd pieces of text together.

Now read through it, without the pictures.

Does it flow?  Is it beautiful?  Does it draw you in?

Or is it choppy?  Clunky? Does it read like a list of facts for a 4th grader’s book report?

I’m going to write a few pieces from my daughter’s favorite book about bugs here, so you can see what I mean.

On the page titled Wasps, we have three paragraphs telling a little about different kinds of wasps, then several drawings of different kinds of wasps.

California oak gall wasp.  This type of wasp lays her eggs in oak leaves.  Blue-black spider wasp. The spider wasp catches spiders to feed her young.  Giant hornet. Like the yellow jacket, the hornet is a wasp with a powerful sting.

Etc.

Then we move into some more interesting text, also scattered around a large drawing of a wasp:

The bright colors of the wasp probably acts as a warning to its enemies–keep away or else.  When a creature such as a bird attacks a wasp and gets stung, it learns to link the black and yellow stripes with the painful sting.  This makes it less likely to attack another wasp. The wasp’s antennae are covered with tiny hairs and are highly sensitive to touch and smell.  The antennae may also detect changes in temperature and humidity.

And so on.

But do you see here?  It’s all just fact after fact.    There’s no … personality.   It’s like listening to someone read from an encyclopedia entry.

If it weren’t for the large drawings and pictures over every page, my child would not be interested at all.

Pictures should enhance the text, not make it so the text is bearable!

One last point —

Living books can be fiction or non-fiction.  They can be historical fiction, they can be non-fiction wrapped in a fictional story.

They can be classics (20 years old or more) or newly published.

But just because a book is fiction, or historical fiction, or wrapped in a fictional story, does not necessarily make it a living book.

The litmus test is not whether or not it’s told in story form.

The litmus test is if it is literary quality and transmits ideas rather than just facts (food for the mind).

When you evaluate a book, is the quality so high that you want to save it for your grandchildren or even great-grandchildren?

If so, it’s probably a living book.

Want to remember the post What is a Living Book? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board!

pinterest book with pages in heart shape what are living books

Do you think that Charlotte Mason’s method of homeschooling and Waldorf homeschooling are opposed?

They absolutely are not.

While they do deviate substantially once the student reaches age 10 or so,  there are several things that Charlotte Mason homeschoolers can learn from followers of Rudolph Steiner.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Charlotte Mason vs Waldorf

One thing I’ve noticed while hanging out in both Waldorf and Charlotte Mason groups is that even though Charlotte and Steiner shared many ideas, their followers stress different aspects of their philosophies.

On top of that, the way Charlotte Mason’s method is portrayed in many popular curricula is just one interpretation of CM.  But those who haven’t read her work often take those interpretations as The One True Way.

Waldorf schools as a system have been around for decades, and they quite frankly have been better at teaching certain aspects of the method than Charlotte Mason followers have.

Here are 6 things that Charlotte Mason homeschoolers ought to learn from Waldorf

1) Severely limit screen time

This is a given in the Waldorf world, to the point of judgmental attitudes towards those who don’t. But Charlotte Mason adherents are less likely to talk about it.

While documentaries (especially nature documentaries!) have their place, and we love Magic School Bus as much as the next family, screen time affects attitudes.

I’ve seen it in myself, in my husband, in my kids and grandchild.

I will admit, this is one area that I really struggle in. While we don’t do apps or ebooks, when my husband comes home from work, the TV is turned on.

And when Grandma comes to visit, she lets my daughter spend all day on her tablet or phone. When Grandma leaves, it’s a battle to cut the electronics again.

It’s so much easier to give in and turn on a documentary than it is to listen to whining.

Strategy: For our family, cold turkey works best. Choose a day, and turn off the TV. I hear whining for about 2 weeks, but if I’m prepared for it I can handle it.

When we’re transitioning away from TV, I make an extra effort to be outdoors.

2) Simple toys and imagination

You might think this is only for little ones, but big kids too don’t need a lot of toys.

Simple, open ended toys and imagination. They don’t need the latest video game, the latest fad toy, or expensive gadgets.

Tools and things they can do with their hands for older kids. Quite honestly, the same goes with younger kids.

My neighbor buys toys for his grandkids every time he goes to the store. Literally, every time.

Their bedrooms are filled with plastic tweeting birds that don’t work, little plastic crabs that change color in water, miniature rockets, hand slap goo, and all manner of other things.

The problem with this is that when they’re outside without their toys, they are at a loss for what to do.

They aren’t used to using their imagination, so instead they beg Grandpa to use his phone so they can watch YouTube videos.

And these kids are 7 and 5 years old!

Strategy: The book Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne is my go-to book. I re-read it every year, and I give it as a baby shower gift.

Read it. Then read it again.

3) Delay Academics until almost 7

Experienced Charlotte Mason homeschoolers know this, but we seem to have a terrible time transmitting this idea to newbies.

I don’t know how many people come to a Charlotte Mason group and say “What should I be doing for schoolwork? My child is 4.” I’ve even seen people ask for phonics recommendations for children as young as 2!

While Charlotte Mason was not against kids learning phonics and everyday math if it wasn’t pushed on them, this is one area where I think we should take our cue from Waldorf.

No academics until 6 (or later)

We also do a disservice when we say “formal lessons start at 6.” Formal lessons could start at 6, but it wasn’t a requirement. Charlotte did not deny students 10 years of age admittance if they hadn’t started at 6.

The consideration of out-of-door life, in developing a method of education, comes second in order; because my object is to show that the chief function of the child–– his business in the world during the first six or seven years of his life––is to find out all he can, about whatever comes under his notice, by means of his five senses; that he has an insatiable appetite for knowledge got in this way; and that, therefore, the endeavour of his parents should be to put him in the way of making acquaintance freely with Nature and natural objects; that, in fact, the intellectual education of the young child should lie in the free exercise of perceptive power, because the first stages of mental effort are marked by the extreme activity of this power; and the wisdom of the educator is to follow the lead of Nature in the evolution of the complete human being. (Home Education, page 96)

Notice how it does not say ‘as soon as the child reaches his sixth year, he no longer gets his knowledge through his five senses, but instead uses books.’

Many kids simply aren’t ready for formal – even play based – academics until 7, or even later.

It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

A good page on what to do with your 6 and Under child, before formal academics, is here.

4) Telling Stories

I rarely see this mentioned in Charlotte Mason circles, but I see it everywhere in Waldorf ones.
Charlotte Mason homeschoolers tend to be so focused on books and reading books and more books, that they forget about storytelling.

Tell, don’t read, your children stories.

Note that I didn’t say “young” children.

Your children of all ages.

Storytelling is a skill that all cultures have practiced for millennia. We seem to have lost it in past years.

When you have young children, rather than reading Cinderella, tell it to them.  Fairy and folk tales were meant to be transmitted orally. They were written down by ethnographers, but they weren’t meant to be passed on that way.

When your children are older and reading their own schoolbooks, tell them stories at dinner.

…tell stories around a backyard campfire.

…tell stories from your childhood.

…tell stories from their childhood (reinforce family memories).

…tell stories from your cultural heritage (fairy and folk tales – you won’t run out!).

…tell stories from other cultures.

Strategy: Think you’re a terrible storyteller? Practice!

First, read or listen to a story. The next day, do the same thing. That night, tell it to yourself. The next morning, re-read it and tell it to yourself again. Now you’re ready to tell it to your kids!

It’s ok if the characters change. It’s ok if the words change. It’s ok if you leave out an entire scene, or make up a new one.

Adjust it as you need to for your family.

Know going into it that some stories will resonate much more than others. That’s ok, too.

5) Head, heart, and hands

“Head, heart, and hands” is talked about a lot in Waldorf circles, but rarely in Charlotte Mason groups.

It’s a great way of looking at the CM method though, and making sure you aren’t overbalancing in one direction or another.

Many people use Charlotte Mason education and only use the academics.

As with Waldorf, academics are only one part of a Charlotte Mason education.

Head, heart, and hands.

Head – academics – got that covered. Yep.

Heart – Christians would most likely consider this the religious aspect, but many of you reading this are not Christian.

We still need to address the heart.

Do you have a spiritual tradition? Great! No? That’s fine, too!  (Read Is Charlotte Mason for Christians only?)

Every student should be reading biographies that will inspire them to be better people.

Strategy: Consciously train your children in our social contract. The ones that most people agree is necessary for a polite society.

Some are obvious – Don’t kill someone unless it’s self-defense. Don’t steal. Don’t cheat. Tell the truth.

Others are not so obvious – Tolerance. Being polite. Good manners. Kindness. Standing up to injustice.

Other ways Waldorf followers practice “heart” is by letting beauty sink into their children. Painting, drawing, repeating stories, going slow. In  Kindergarten for your Three to Six Year Old from Christopherus, the author Donna Simmons says, “Think soul nourishment, not tasks accomplished.”

That one sentence says it all.

 

Hands – while Charlotte Mason circles will talk about handwork, that’s where they generally stop.

The “hands” part of a Waldorf education encompasses not only handwork, but also sculpting, painting, drawing, and body movement.

Did you know that clay modeling was done every year for ages 6-14 in the PNEU programmes?

Or that students were expected to ‘illustrate scenes from their tales, in brushwork’? That sounds like the painting of their lessons that Waldorf students do!

Waldorf education says that 1/3 of the curriculum is physical. Charlotte Mason homeschoolers should be doing just as much.

Playing outdoors, jumping rope, riding bikes, climbing trees, playing scout games, stalking birds-insects-lizards-frogs-animals, dancing. Even swimming is specifically mentioned by Charlotte that everyone over the age of 7 should do.

6) Primary Source reading

One thing that I see stressed in Waldorf groups is that you should read Rudolph Steiner’s lectures for yourself.

The same applies to Charlotte Mason’s works.

While those “in the know” always recommend reading her original volumes, many who consider themselves CM homeschoolers haven’t actually done it.

You may think that reading blogs and listening to podcasts will give you a sense of Charlotte Mason education, and you’re partly right.

But when you do that, you’re not getting Charlotte’s thoughts. You’re getting your interpretation of someone else’s interpretation of her words!

They are secondary sources – someone’s interpretation, summary, discussion, description, or analysis of the primary sources.

I always, always recommend that you read her works for yourself, and draw your own conclusions.

The original volumes are being reprinted by both Living Books Press and Simply Charlotte Mason. The Charlotte Mason Plenary has published both Volumes 1 and 6 along with study guides.  (Read my review of The Plenary)

But there is so much more than just the original six volumes!

From The Charlotte Mason Digital Collection website: “This database provides digital access to Charlotte Mason’s manuscripts, journals, correspondence and other archival documents housed in Ambleside (UK), where she established a teacher’s college.”

Not only are there several years’ worth of Parents’ Review volumes, but also A Liberal Education for All: Practical Workings of the PUS, letters, edited manuscripts, more than 12 years of PNEU programmes, and the Mother’s Educational Course with markups for future terms.

You can get lost in there for weeks (*cough* ask me how I know). And by immersing yourself in not only her volumes, but also the programmes, A Liberal Education for All, and the Parents’ Review, your understanding of the method will increase exponentially.

Here’s a little secret – I don’t agree with some of the interpretations of other “experts” in the Charlotte Mason community.

I don’t agree with them because I’ve read the source material for myself and drawn a different conclusion.

Maybe you will draw a completely different conclusion than I or other people do. That’s ok! But you will never know unless you read for yourself.

THE TAKEAWAY

Six things you should be incorporating into your Charlotte Mason homeschool if you aren’t already –

  • Severely limit screen time – it builds the imagination
  • Simple toys
  • Delay academics
  • Tell stories, don’t just read them
  • Head, heart, and hands – balance book work, beauty and ethics, and physical movement. Think soul nourishment, not tasks accomplished.
  • Primary sources. The Volumes and the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection.

What else do you incorporate from Waldorf into your homeschool?

Want to remember this? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board!

Do you struggle with how to teach your preschooler a foreign language? Charlotte Mason suggested beginning at the earliest ages, but how do we do that when we don’t speak the language ourselves?

We know that using a curriculum for this age group is anathema to a Charlotte Mason education, but what should we do instead?

Should we even teach a foreign language to our little ones, or is it better to just wait until school age?

As so often happens, I’ve found the Parents’ Review addresses just these problems. Isn’t it amazing that parents have had the same struggles and doubts for 130 years? It really puts things into perspective when you look at it that way.

To begin:

Yes, we should teach our young ones a foreign language. It is never too early. But how to start?

First Steps in learning a language for preschoolers

For this article, we’ll look at the Parents’ Review Volume 1, No 4, pages 269-273  : Nursery French

“Many of the mothers of to-day will still remember the sad bewilderment and weariness of their first French lessons, when at the age of nine or ten they were considered old enough to “begin” French, and were suddenly called upon to grapple with the difficulties of reading and writing in a foreign language, whose words, pronunciation, construction, were all alike equally strange and uninteresting to them.

Believing, as we do now, that children should learn a foreign language as they learn their mother tongue – they speak it long before they learn to read and write – we endeavour to give the little ones while still in the nursery a joyous and interesting oral introduction, by means of games, songs, and stories, to the future study of the language as read and written.”

Here we see that our preschool language learning should be entirely oral, and done by means of games, songs, and stories. These will lay the foundation for future book studies of the language (starting in Form 2, around the ages of 9-10).

This is good for me to read, because I tend to think that early learning can (or should!) give a complete grasp of the new language. The author, Francis Epps, is telling us though that we are simply laying a foundation at this point, and more in-depth studies will come later.

Let’s read on:

“Passing over the baby stage of learning, the names of the objects in sight, at table, round the room, out of doors (never omitting the article), and the learning of little sentences by slow and careful repetition, e.g., “J’ai une rose,” “le chat dort,” “j’aime ma mère,” the little one will soon be ready to join in the lively dancing and singing games of his elder brothers and sisters…”

Whoa, I need to stop there! The sentence continues, but I want to break this down into manageable bits.

Have you done this with your child yet? I haven’t!

Words

Before we even get to singing games and lively dancing, it is assumed that we have finished the “baby stage of learning,” the names of everyday objects both in and outdoors.

Silverware, simple furniture, trees, plants, birds … these are all words we can learn with our young ones.

How? Perhaps we get a 100 First Words in French (or Spanish, or whatever your target language is) and work through it. This would introduce the written word to the children, though, and that is not what we want.

How about learning 3-4 new words per day, and using a tool like Google Translate to do it? Use the small speaker icon to learn proper pronunciation. Make sure to use the ‘article’ with the noun (whatever means ‘a’ or ‘the’ in your target language, so your children naturally learn the gender of the noun).

If 3-4 new words per day is too much, try 1-2. Use them in your conversation throughout your day. Slip them in, substitute the words for typical English words.

“Lexi, it’s time to come to la mesa for dinner!”

“Joey, put your zapatos on please, we’re going outside!”

Sentences

Then learn little sentences by slow and careful repetition. The examples given here translate to “I have a rose,” “The cat is sleeping,” and “I love my mother.”

This exercise alone could take several months before you run out of words in your immediate surroundings.

The rest of the sentence talks about specific actions in specific nursery songs. One in particular that many of us know is “he will before long be quite … successful … in ‘washing his face’ with dancing round the ‘Mulberry Bush’”

I had to look this up (shame!) but, there’s more than one Mulberry Bush song. While what came to mind was the monkey chasing the weasel, there’s another that I’d forgotten:

Here we go round the mulb’ry bush, the mulb’ry bush, the mulb’ry bush. Here we go round the mulb’ry bush so early in the morning.

Next verses are This is the way we wash our face, then This is the way we comb our hair, etc.

Sing this in your target language and do the actions at the same time, and it’s a fun way to learn more of the language. The children dance around and do the actions, having fun and cementing the words and phrases at the same time.

A good option here is a CD of nursery rhymes, preferably sung by a native speaker, and also preferably with full directions given for the action songs.

“The children will, naturally, learn the words slowly and carefully, with their meaning, as well as the actions and music.”

Games

A few games are also suggested in this Parents’ Review article:

1) I have a basket.

“all sit round the table, or the fire, and the mother says to her right-hand little neighbour, “J’ai un panier.” [I have a basket] This calls for the interested question, “Que mets-tu dedans?” [What do you put in it?] and its answer by mother, “J’y mets des poires,” [I put pears in it] “ des œufs,” [eggs] or any other familiar object. The little neighbour first spoken to then tells her right-hand neighbor “J’ai un panier,” and so the announcement, questions, and answer pass round the circle. Generally, the children try to think of something amusing to put in their baskets, and the game goes on amid a ripple of merry laughter.”

2) Picture bingo (“French Loto”)

“each child has a card with about twenty little pictures of familiar objects on it, and a heap of as many counters. The leader of the game reads out from a list she has the name of one of the objects represented on a card, perhaps “la chaise.” The child who has the picture on her card says, “J’ai la chaise,” and covers it with a counter; the one who gets all the pictures on the card covered first, wins the game.”

3) Buz

It is agreed before the game that a certain number, say “seven” (whatever the number is your target language) shall not be mentioned, either by itself or in seventeen, twenty-seven, etc, and that “Buz” should be said instead. The counting goes regularly round and round, each one saying the number which comes next. Uno, dos, tres, quatro, cinco, seis, buz, ocho …. Children eagerly await their chance of saying buz and of catching the forgetful one who says vientesiete.

4) 20 Questions and I Spy, both played in the target language.

Here are directions for playing in Spanish.

Next we are told that “besides the words of the songs they sing, children much enjoy learning to recite little fables and stories….”

For those learning Spanish, Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Salsa series is wonderful for this. For other languages, look for simple repetitive fairy tales. Especially good for parents are those that have been recorded online by native speakers.

You can go to your local library and ask the librarian if your library has any resources for these. There may be audio books, or digital resources, or even story time if the language is one that’s widely spoken in your area.

The Accent

Here we come to the crux of the matter.

“How are we to secure a good accent for our children? A mother may do her painstaking best in her nursery French games and plays, but most likely she will feel, unless she has been educated in France, that there is a too conscious effort about it all…”

Over the last pages of the Parents’ Review article, Frances Epps suggests the same thing Charlotte Mason did – that a French woman be employed for a few hours per week to tell stories and converse with the children. To cut costs, she suggested the expense be shared among several families, to create a group of about 12 children.

How can we do this now?

Think about what resources are available to you. Does your library have a language time for tots, with a native speaker? Do you have a friend or family member who speaks the language that would be willing to spend regular time with your child?

Perhaps a local language school has a Mom and Me time (this would be more common in large cities).

Can you afford an internet language tutor for half an hour 2x per week, one who works with kids?

Your last option might be watching children’s dvds in the language you’re learning, simply for the accent.

Music and youtube videos aimed at children, especially when done by native speakers, is another way.

Read this excellent article from Fluent In 3 Months on why you should teach your children a foreign language, even if you aren’t good at it yourself:   Why I’m Teaching my Kids to Speak French Badly (And Why I Think You Should, Too) 

The Takeaway

  • Start with “baby French” (or whatever language you choose).
  • names of objects in sight, around the room, and outdoors
  •  little phrases and sentences, spoken as a whole and memorized (“I love my mother,” “This is a beautiful flower”)
  • Move on to nursery rhymes, action games, and other children’s songs.
  • Then add simple games that are played as much as possible in your target language.
  • Next, fables and stories.
  • And last, take advantage of any native speakers you have available to you.

Though we will begin with “baby French”, the next steps don’t need to be done sequentially. They can be done in any order or all at the same time.

Whatever works well for you!

Have you introduced a new language to your young children? I’d love to know what resources you’ve used, and whether or not you felt they were worth the time or money!

Want to remember How to Teach Foreign Language to Young Children? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board!

 

One of the biggest troubles newbies to Charlotte Mason have is reading books slowly.

You look at all the great books on a curriculum list and dive right in … but then you’ve finished an entire term’s worth of reading in two weeks and think “this isn’t enough!”

Or, you don’t follow anyone’s term schedule but just sit down with your kids and read. You’ve never even heard that you should read books slowly.

Your kids don’t want you to stop reading, so why should you?

Let’s find out.

SLOW READING: A CORNERSTONE OF THE CHARLOTTE MASON METHOD

In What Is Charlotte Mason, I mentioned that we savor rather than gulp our books.

But what does this mean?

It means that we read books slowly. 40-50 pages per 11-12 week term.

What? That’s crazy slow, you say. There’s no way we could make a book last that long!

Yes you can.

You read only 3-4 pages per week. Mostly, you’ll read this amount in a single session. In Form 1, for example, History is done once per week for about 10-15 minutes.

Each session you’d talk about what happened last week (see this post I wrote for Wildwood Curriculum), perhaps talk about what your kids think will happen next, read the pages, then have the children narrate (tell back) to you.

After narration, talk excitedly about what you read. Maybe bring out the map to find places you’ve read about.

This will take approximately 10-15 minutes. Does that sound too little? Another staple of Charlotte Mason is short lessons.

Jodi Clark put this very well:

“It is very important to stick to the time period set for a class–this is a key piece to the method; it enables the child to slowly digest the information presented, which fosters deeper learning, understanding, and relations.

It’s a good sign they are delighted with the book if they want you to keep going. But they’ll have to wait until the next time the class is scheduled–usually a week.”

 

BUT MY CHILD DOESN’T WANT TO STOP READING!

Stop anyway.

Yes, stop even if they want you to read more.

This builds anticipation for next week, and also lets those shorter chunks simmer in their minds. They will tend to think more deeply on the scenes and topics, because they are getting them in small pieces.

Remember that Charlotte Mason is like drinking from a cup rather than a firehouse.

A trickle rather than a pour.

It also helps to develop the memory when a student forgets from one week to the next, then has to remember.

Even if the memory is jogged in order to remember.

It’s similar to Spaced Repetition, though the aim of reading slowly isn’t to memorize.

DO I USE ONLY VERY SHORT BOOKS THEN?

No. Use normal length books.

Books are generally read over several terms, and often over several years (a year is made up of 3 terms, approximately 11-12 weeks each).

This is also a reason why you should use only high quality books, that aren’t written down to children, and are full of ideas rather than just facts.

When you use a book over a period of several months to years, it needs to be interesting and well written. Anything less will guarantee that you (and your kids) will be well sick of it.

Another reason to use books that will span multiple ages is that your children won’t grow out of them in a year.

Have you ever used a curriculum that was perfect at the beginning of the year, but your child had such massive growth mid-year, that by the end it was well beneath her level? It happened with my own daughter quite frequently.

By using high quality books that span ages, you’ll decrease the chances of this happening.

VERY SLOW READING DOESN’T APPLY TO ALL BOOKS

Can you imagine trying to read a single short book of historical fiction over an entire year? Or perhaps spreading out Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone over a two year period?

That story would drag!
No, fiction isn’t generally included in slow reading.

That is to say, light fiction isn’t.
In Form I (approximate ages 6-9), books of fiction weren’t generally assigned. Instead, short biographies and fairy tales were.

Form II (approximate ages 9-12) is when we really start seeing fiction every term in the PNEU programmes. Still, these are done at the rate of 1-2 books per term.

The vast majority of books in a Charlotte Mason education are non-fiction.

BUT ISN’T CHARLOTTE MASON FILLED WITH BOOKS?

Yes and no.

Multiple books are read every term, sometimes 3-4 books per subject. But they are still read slowly. They are still read at the rate of 40-50 pages per term.

Books are an integral part of a Charlotte Mason education, but they are only a part of it.

Just as important is working with your hands, cultivating a sense of beauty, and becoming a naturalist.

It is a well-balanced approach to education.

By reading books slowly, it keeps the reading manageable.

EVALUATING CURRICULA

In light of this, it should be easier to evaluate curricula that claim to be Charlotte Mason or draw from CM.

  • Lots of books listed? Fine – could go either way
  • Mostly historical fiction? Ehh …. you’ll definitely want to dig more. Charlotte Mason used some historical fiction starting in Form II, but only 1-2 books per term.
  • Are the books read quickly or are they spread out over several terms (or years)? While it’s ok for some books to be read more quickly, the majority should be read slowly.

If the books are read more quickly, consider that the curriculum might actually be more Waldorf or Classical. These are both valid homeschooling styles, but they aren’t Charlotte Mason.

THE TAKEAWAY

  • Keep readings short
  • Read only 3-4 pages per week from each book, on average, to let the material simmer
  • spread each book over several terms or even years
  • Stay strong when your child begs for one more chapter to build the anticipation

Have you tried slow reading in your homeschool? I’d love to know how it works for you! Let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email.

You’ve heard things about this Charlotte Mason method, and the more you read the more it sounds like exactly what your family is looking for.

But there’s one problem: you keep seeing on blogs and Facebook groups that Charlotte Mason is for Christians only, and can’t be used by those who aren’t.

But you’re not Christian.

Do you need to leave this method behind and look for another that will welcome non-Christians? Does Charlotte Mason’s method of education really only work for those who have committed themselves to her god? Is there something different about the biology and brain of children of Christian parents that makes this method unsuitable for those of us that aren’t?

Of course not!

Charlotte Mason was Christian

Let’s get this out of the way right now — Charlotte Mason was Christian. More specifically, Anglican. In the U.S., this is the modern Episcopalian Church. Her worldview was saturated with it, and she couldn’t conceive of any other religion being ‘right’, just as many modern-day Christians can’t.

However, she also taught Jewish students, and had friends and close co-workers who were Jewish. Nowhere in her writings have I found where she said that Jewish or any other religions should not use her method. On the contrary, she says that her method works with all children. Are we to believe that her ‘all children’ actually means only Christian children, and that children are biologically different depending on what religion their parents follow?

I don’t think so.

How to bring your own beliefs to a CM education

With the proliferation of Christian curricula where the entire thing seems to be saturated with a certain brand of Christianity, and the inclusion of generally Young Earth resources in these, you’d think that Charlotte Mason held those same views.

Nope.

Her programmes (from the PNEU) are filled with books that are only mildly Christian or that are outright secular. She used books that taught current scientific theory (Darwin), and she says in Volume 1 concerning which Bible commentaries to use: “Mr. Smyth brings both modern criticism and research to bear, so that children taught from his little manuals will not be startled to be told that the world was not made in six days; and, at the same time, they will be very sure that the world was made by God.”

So what do we as non-Christians, or Christians whose beliefs don’t follow other curricula, do?

First, “We must teach only what we know.”

What does this mean? It was actually this singular passage that brought me back to my non-Christian beliefs. I was trying to raise my daughter with Christian materials, because that was all that was available 15 years ago. I read this passage, and realized that I didn’t believe what I was trying to teach my daughter.

“In the first place, we must teach that which we know, know by the life of the soul, not with any mere knowledge of the mind. Now, of the vast mass of the doctrines and the precepts of religion, we shall find that there are only a few vital truths that we have so taken into our being that we live upon them––this person, these; that person, those; some of us, not more than a single one. One or more, these are the truths we must teach the children, because these will come straight out of our hearts with the enthusiasm of conviction which rarely fails to carry its own idea into the spiritual life of another.” (Home Education p 347)

What are the core beliefs that you carry in your soul? These may or may not align with the religion that you belong to. However, these core beliefs are the only ones you can teach.

How do you make this into a curriculum?

The easiest way is to use a curriculum that aligns fairly closely with what you already believe, and then tweak from there.

The great thing about Charlotte Mason’s curriculum as found in the PNEU programmes is that there are few religious books outside the Bible portions, so it’s easy to take a curriculum that is modeled after these programs and tweak it to fit your own worldview.

Tweaking curriculum for your views

Wildwood Curriculum is a strict Charlotte Mason curriculum, but without religious dogma.  It is easily customized to fit your own beliefs.

If you belong to an organized religion with educational materials for your religion, just put those in in place of World Religions/Philosophy. Easy peasy.

If you don’t have such a simple option, it will take a bit more work.

Take a few days to think about what ideas form your spiritual beliefs or core values. Besides those, what knowledge (spiritual or mindfulness) do you think is important to have? What qualities and morals do you want to cultivate in your children?

If you’re a visual person, you might find an outline or a mind map helpful to organize your thoughts. Don’t rush it. It will be a work in progress. Here’s a copy of mine so you can see where I’m coming from.

After you’ve figured out what ideas you want covered, use that as your guide when planning your year. What resources are available to you to convey these ideas to your children? Think outside the box — they don’t need to be books; they can be experiences or you modeling actions. At the same time, they can be books.

Hang with people going through the same thing

Finally, consider joining Facebook homeschool groups that reflect your spiritual views, especially if you can find ones that follow Charlotte Mason.

I prefer groups that embrace both religious and non-religious viewpoints. Here are a few resources:

Charlotte Mason Secular Homeschoolers
Wildwood Curriculum (this is the link to the homepage.  If you are planning to use the curriculum, there’s an active Facebook group, too)
Charlotte Mason Plenary

Up Above the Rowan Tree

Charlotte Mason’s method is for everyone, no matter your religious beliefs (or lack of them!)

Want to remember this? Pin it to your favorite Pinterest board!

 

woman in yoga pose next to lake with text Charlotte Mason is not for Christians only

 

Artist study is one area I’ve always struggled with.

I don’t know much about the artists or styles or periods that they worked. I couldn’t tell you the difference between Impressionist and Post-Impressionist.

I’ve always been stumped about what to actually do with my kids during art appreciation. Do we just look at the picture? Am I supposed to point out the use of color? How do I help my kids learn about art if I don’t know anything myself?

Have you felt this way, too?

Reading through the Parents’ Review articles I was happy to find an article titled Art for Children written by Thomas Rooper.

What sort of art to use for artist study—

On page 248, it says that the wisdom of the day was that children couldn’t appreciate high minded art, and both the subject and treatment should be simple or children won’t like them.

We still get that today. A quick search for art for children’s rooms turns up nauseatingly simple designs of giraffes and rabbits, with bold, simple colors.

There is no beauty, no subtlety.

Instead, Mr. Rooper reminds us of this:

“’Young citizens,’ says Plato in the Republic, ‘must not be allowed to grow up amongst images of evil, lest their souls assimilate the ugliness of their surroundings. Rather they should be like men living in a beautiful healthy place; from everything that they see and hear, loveliness like a breeze should pass into their souls and teach them without their knowing it the truth of which beauty is a manifestation.’ In the study of art ‘liking comes by looking.’ Children cannot learn what a beautiful work of art really is unless they have an opportunity of seeing good specimens almost every day of their lives. A love for the study of beautiful things is gained by a slow process; it cannot be dinned into the mind like the multiplication table, it was never imparted by the rapid method of acquiring knowledge which is known as ‘cramming.’”

There’s our first step — choose beautiful pictures. Not cute, not ugly or disturbing. Beautiful.

artist study

NEXT

After you’ve decided on suitable art, how do you bring it to the children?

“Leaving to others the study of the technical skill displayed by the artist, and of the position of the painter in the closely connected schools of European Art, I will direct attention to the subject which has been chosen, and then to the thoughts which the present treatment of it may suggest.”

Ah-ha! We don’t need to talk about whether an artist was Impressionist or talk about how he used color in this way and that artist uses it in that way.

Instead, we draw the children’s attention to the subject painted.

That’s not to say that you can’t talk about the schools of art, or that you shouldn’t as a child gets older. But this is not something you need to go deeply into.

For older students, a quick biography or object lesson concerning the artist of the term will suffice, while younger children don’t need even that.

SETTING THE STAGE

The painting used in this example is called “Circe” by Briton Riviere circe and her swine by briton for artist study

“Have you ever gone to see the pigs fed? … As we approach the sty bearing a heavy bucket of bran and meal stirred up into a thick creamy mixture, we hear inside pushing, struggling, squealing, grunting, shrieks of excited greedy anticipation mixed with squeals of disappointment, as some porker gets shoved away by an old sow from a place near the trough which is to receive the cause of all this babel of sounds. Now we pour out the luscious nutriment. Wonderful result! In a moment the din stops. Not a sound is heard but of a furious supping, interrupted by an occasional subdued and comfortable grunt of utter enjoyment and satisfaction.”

At this point, the author isn’t even talking about the picture. He’s just setting the stage for it, talking to the children about feeding pigs. He’s using descriptive words, making it fun, and letting us feel like we’re actually out throwing the slop.

Once we have this background, we can start talking about the painting itself.

“If we now study the picture we shall see that the pigs are painted as at the moment when they expect to be fed. See them crowding up, pushing each other over, uplifting their ugly heads, stretching their throats …”

Interesting! He’s not just putting the picture in front of the children and letting them ‘get what they get’, he’s actually drawing their attention to certain bits. Because he’s set the scene, we can see exactly what he’s talking about. If he hadn’t had us imagine that we were feeding the pigs, we might not have understood when he says “we see that the pigs are painted at the moment when they expect to be fed.”

“Look at their flexible coarsely-shaped snouts, their huge wrinkled brawny faces with small greedy eyes, and ask yourselves whether the artist has not studied nature to good purpose, in depicting the scene of animal selfishness which I have just described.”

And again, he’s specifically pointing out how they are portrayed. Their huge wrinkled brawny faces. Their flexible, coarsely-shaped snouts. I can almost see a pigs snout moving and snuffling just from this description; how much more alive will this make the painting!

“Let us now turn … to contemplate the fair form of the woman who sits and surveys it. What a contrast! What grace, refinement, and beauty are here! Observe the long fall of hair, gathered above the neck in a single circlet of gold, the graceful curve of the seated figure …”

And then here, he’s contrasting. He’s pointing out the difference in how the woman is drawn to how the pigs are.

But do you see? He’s not only pointing out the contrast, he’s also drawing the children’s attention to details they might otherwise miss. The single circlet of gold in her hair, the graceful curves.

By directing children’s attention, we are also refining it. We are modeling for them what close observation of a painting looks like.

THE NEXT STEP

After the picture itself is admired and studied, the author gives even more background.

It is not simply a painting of a beautiful woman feeding pigs, but an illustration from Homer’s Odyssey. Then he tells the children an abbreviated version.

Do you think a child, after studying this painting in this manner, might want to go further and listen to an audiobook of a dramatized version of The Odyssey?

This might even be a good lead-in for an older student before beginning to read The Odyssey for himself.

But what if you have no idea if there’s a story behind a painting?

The internet is our friend.

Spend a few minutes on Wikipedia before presenting a painting, so you are armed with at least a bit of knowledge before starting.

WHERE TO GET ARTIST PRINTS

Now that you know a good way to present art to your children, are you wondering where to find it?

  •  One easy way is artist calendars. Calendars.com has many calendars for $14.99, or you can look in bookstores or even discount stores. While it sounds expensive, at 12 prints per calendar (make sure you get one with different pictures for each month), it works out to $1.25 per print.The paper is heavy and fairly resistant to grubby fingerprints.And they are easy to cut up to hang on walls or otherwise display.
  •  Come Look with Me series by Gladys Blizzard. These are cheaper than calendars, come with artist bios and questions, but can’t be cut up to be displayed.
  • Download and print

The Met Museum has released 400,000 digital images of its collection into the public domain.

They also have hundreds of art books free for download.

THE TAKEAWAY

There you have it, folks. Artist study should be guided somewhat, but we can leave the technical talk out of it.

Do a bit of research yourself before presenting a print to your child. Set the scene. Draw their attention to details. Then give backstory and connections if there are any.

That’s it.

Like so many things in a Charlotte Mason education, so very simple, but so effective.

Do you have a favorite artist or piece of art? Share it in the comments!