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|
|7:40||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|
|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|
|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|
Review Chapter 10
Review Chapter 10
At Nap time
|Perch Dissection Write-Up||Perch Dissection Write-up||Go over and correct Falcon and Perch Papers||Paper corrections|
Chapitre 8 and 9
Chapitre 10 and 11
Chapitre 12 and 13
Chapitre 14 and 15
|Math||As marked||As marked||As marked|
|Essay||Maps and Outline||Maps and Outline||Maps and Outline|
|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|
|Review Latin w/Mom through Chap 15||Latin Vocabulary and CD, Homework
|Latin Vocabulary and CD, Homework
|Latin Vocabulary and CD
|R 16, 17
|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
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.