Short Lessons or Why We Do Almost Everything Twice!

Short Lessons Charlotte Mason


This past summer I did a bunch of reading on various educational approaches. Partly because I find that kind of thing interesting, and partly because I am ALWAYS having to tweak my approach to allow for bigger kids, noisier toddlers, more extra-curricular activities or less patience or something on my part.

One of the educators I read was Charlotte Mason and (while I think that like most of the educational theorists of her time she was rather optimistic in her understanding of how children acquire knowledge) I did find her idea of the “short lesson” rather intriguing.

I have a short attention span and find working at the same subject for forty minutes quite tiring and when I realized that in a forty minute “math” period we were actually only getting thirty minutes of work done due to the afore-mentioned toddlers etc. it seemed logical to give “short lessons” a shot.

This is what our morning is supposed to look like:

Morning Schedule / Rhythm

Time Minutes Task T W T F J and M
7:30 10 Rosary
7:40 10 1 page copywork Stickers/Cutting
7:50 20 Maps for one chapter SOTW Color /Spelling
8:10 20 French (Big 2) W Reading and Spelling With Me
8:30 30 Math Sensorial
9:00 10 Break – snack and five minutes of movement Break
9:10 20 Latin one worksheet ?(or Memory) Sensorial
9:30 20 Science- work on outline ?(W Spelling/Call) With Me
9:50 20 History -oral review or outline Provocation
10:10 20 Break: Snack and ten- fifteen minutes of movement Break
10:30 30 Math Sensorial
11:00 20 Science Outline Math
11:20 20 History Maps or Outline Snack
11:40 20 Clean -up and Jobs Clean-up

I have checkboxes for each day we do school and scheduled activities for the younger two, so that they aren’t lost and wandering around causing chaos (they do anyway but pre-planning helps quite a bit).

I print one copy of this for each of the big three with their weekly assignments on the other side. Buggle and Mouse’s look like this:

Assignments for the Week March 27-31, ?2017

Subject Mon ?27 Tues ??28 Wednesday ?29 Thursday ?30 Friday ??31
Morning Time
Latin Chant CD

Review Chapter 10

Chant CD

Review Chapter 10

Chant CD


Chant CD
Science Notebook/


At Nap time

Perch Dissection Write-Up Perch Dissection Write-up Go over and correct Falcon and Perch Papers Paper corrections
Flashcards everyday
Chant CD

Chapitre 8 and 9

Chant CD

Chapitre 10 and 11

Chant CD

Chapitre 12 and 13

Chant CD

Chapitre 14 and 15

Math As marked As marked As marked
Essay Maps and Outline Maps and Outline Maps and Outline
History Notebook/


SOTW 31-33 History from the library History from the library Finish Maps during Naptime

And Bull’s looks like this:

Assignments for the week of March 27-31, 2017

Subject Mon ?27 Tues ??28 Wednesday 29 Thursday ?30 Friday ??31
Morning Time

Memory, Copywork,

Science Notebook/


Review Latin w/Mom through Chap 15 Latin Vocabulary and CD, Homework


Latin Vocabulary and CD, Homework


Latin Vocabulary and CD


Nature Study




R 16, 17

P 16,17

C 5

R 18,19

P 18,19

C 5

R 20,21

P 20,21

C 5

R 22,23

P 22,23

C 5

History Notebook Update your notebook Update your notebook Update your notebook
History Reading SOTW 31,32,33 History books from the library History books from the library
Math Khan Academy Khan Academy Life of Fred


Khan Academy

I also print a full set for myself so I have place to keep track of what went well, what didn’t, who had meltdowns over what, and so on.

Then I make liberal use of the timer on my phone, setting it for the length of the lesson, and giving everyone a minute or two to finish their thought or current problem at the end of the period. ?I announce the lesson, tell the children who I’m working with, and try hard not to answer questions from anyone else. They work on lessons with me or independently and simply pick up where they last left off.

I’ve had to tweak things a bit as we often don’t really get started until 7:45 (fifteen minutes “late”) and it took me a bit to figure out how long was really reasonable for certain subjects (which determines whether or not they get two periods or one).

In general, the system works pretty smoothly. The children usually feel like they are making forward progress and this helps them want to make more progress. Even in rough weeks, I don’t worry too much as I know that we can simply pick up and do a bit more at the next period and get back on track.

I’ve also found that presenting material in one period, and then practicing it a few periods later helps with retention as the facts have gotten the chance to move out of short term memory while the children were thinking about something else.

It’s not a perfect system, but it works fairly well for us, and has definitely made our school days more pleasant and more effective.


Charlotte Mason short lessons



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