There seems to be a somewhat common misconception among homeschoolers—especially those who are new to the Charlotte Mason Method. Let’s set the record straight: the Charlotte Mason approach is not just living books.
There is much more to Charlotte Mason than reading and narrating! Charlotte’s students wrote, sang, memorized, recited, drew, worked with manipulatives, went for walks, painted, and exercised.
So here’s another tip for a smooth year: when you arrange the order of the subjects you will cover in a day, try to sequence them for variety. Try to use different parts of the brain and body. In other words, don’t sit on the sofa for hours at a time, reading and narrating books. You will over-fatigue the read-and-narrate part of your child’s brain. The longer you continue to use that part of his brain, the harder it will be for him to pay full attention and learn well.
A variety of subjects during the week contributes to a rich education. A variety of methods during the day contributes to the habit of full attention.
Now, I often hear comments like this: “That makes total sense, but how do you do it? How do you know which subjects use which parts of the brain and body?” So let’s try to break this idea down into smaller pieces and make it simple to implement.
Tip #3: Sequence Your Day
Grab a sheet of paper and turn it lengthwise, or open the spreadsheet app on your computer. Ready?
Down the left side of your sheet, list the subjects for the day. So far so good.
Now make three columns beside each subject. Don’t panic, this is going to be easy.
First, think through what kind of material the student will be working with for each subject. Most likely it will be either words, numbers, pictures, objects, music, or sounds. For example, if he is reading and narrating, he’s working with words. Jot down in the first column next to each subject which kind of material is the focus.
Next, picture your student doing each subject. What is his physical position? Is he moving at all? He might sit, walk outside, work with manipulatives, do handwork. You get the idea. Jot down the physical movement used for each subject in that second column. (See, this isn’t so hard!)
Last, think about the methods that your student will be using for each subject. He might be writing, listening, talking, reading, narrating, drawing, looking, memorizing, reciting, describing, singing. This doesn’t have to be perfect; just try to think through the skills that he will be using.
Here’s an example of a possible day’s subjects with materials, movements, and methods for each.
|Math||numbers, objects||sit, manipulatives||listening, talking|
|Picture Study||pictures||sit||looking, describing|
|Scripture Memory||words||sit||memorizing, reciting|
|Hymn Study||words, music||sit||singing|
|Foreign Language||words, sounds||pantomime||listening, talking,|
|Nature Study||objects||walk outside||looking, drawing|
Now all you have to do is look down the list in those three M columns. Your goal is no identical rows next to each other. You want at least one word to change as you move from row to row in sequence; two word changes are even better.
For example, Scripture Memory, Hymn Study, and Literature all have sit in the Movement column, back-to-back-to-back. And they all have words in the Materials column. Those clusters of identical words should attract your attention. But you will notice that Hymn Study adds another Materials component, music, and all three subjects use different Methods. So you can relax because you have a change in at least one column as you look through the sequence of those three subjects.
If you see touching rows that are identical in all three columns, grab one of those subjects and tuck it into a different slot where it won’t be touching another of its own kind.
There you go! I hope this little technique helps you think through sequencing your days. Remember, a wide variety of weekly subjects, sequenced daily with variety in mind, will go far toward a smooth year!