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I’ve just had my eyes opened to Charlotte Mason educational philosophy/practices in the last few weeks, so I’m just getting started. My kids are 8 (boy), 5 (girl), 3 (boy), and 3 months.
One thing I’m very dubious about is the idea of working on a subject for a set amount of time and then moving on no matter how far you’ve progressed. My 8 yr old would happily drop his pencil, fall out of his chair, and gaze around the room for 20 minutes rather than do just about any work set in front of him. Since I also have an infant and a toddler to care for, it’s very difficult for me to sit next to him the whole time he is doing his work, so I usually tell him the quantity of work he has to do and he has to work on it until he is finished. The main areas where this is an issue are math and copy work (basically all of his independent work).
I like the idea of moving on after a set amount of time. I can see how it would allow more structure in our day and ensure that some subjects don’t get routinely dropped because we’ve run out of time. I’m just skeptical that it can work with a child who is SO S.L.O.W. about getting anything done.
Can someone offer me some guidance?Melanie32Participant
Hi Heather! I don’t have time for a lengthy response right now but I did want to say that many times children dawdle because they see no end in sight and they feel overwhelmed. When they know they will only have to do this particular assignment or subject for 15 or 20 minutes they often buckle down and get to business. When you talk to your child and explain that if they will really focus and apply their whole habit of attention to a subject that they will only be required to do it for a short amount of time, he/she might just step up to the plate and surprise you!Rachel WhiteParticipant
It really does make a difference. I have a child who could only do anything for only 5-10 min. when she was that age, so that’s what she did and gradually, the time expanded as her attention skills increased.
Also, I should be clear that if the work was not completed and/or they just sat there and did nothing for that set time, I made it clear that we would come back to that subject that day. Because I had a weak willed dd who would refuse to do the subject and she thought that if she didn’t do any or not complete her subject (meaning what I wanted done that day) then she’d get away without having to apply herself; she came to realized her folly and that we would be coming back to it.
Thanks Melanie32 & Rachel! This is exactly the sort of guidance I’m looking for.
Rachel, do you have your daughter come back to the subject after all the other subjects are complete? What gets pushed out when she has to repeat a subject? Are there times when she doesn’t complete what you had planned but she did apply herself — it was just harder for her than expected? If so, how can you tell and what do you do in those cases?Melanie32Participant
Since you are just now coming to a CM education, the other thing that will surprise you is how much your kids will enjoy their subjects. Children often dawdle during traditional schooling because they see no end in sight. What will happen when I finish this math work sheet? I’ll have to do a history worksheet and then a grammar worksheet and so on. It’s a long, endless day of work that does not truly engage their minds and draw them in emotionally and intellectually.
At the young ages of your children, they will be listening to you read great books and reading some great books themselves. They will be drawing amazing things they find in nature. They will be studying beautiful art, listening to beautiful music, copying beautiful words. I think you’ll be amazed by how much your children can pay attention when learning using Charlotte’s methods. School work becomes a joy instead of drudgery. 🙂eawernerParticipant
Heather – The thing that gets ‘pushed out’ is playtime. When you have a certain amount of time for each subject, school is over at roughly the same time each day. So pick a time that is almost always play time and keep that in your mind. Lets just say you usually play a game together during nap time and then she is free to play with her toys. You set her 5 min of copywork and NOTHING happens during that 5 min. You have a vaguely sad look on your face, say that our copywork time is up and it’s time to do a picture study. Move on, don’t dwell on it. Nap time comes up and instead of playing a game or getting her situated for her quiet independent play you let her know that it’s copywork time again. You aren’t angry or anything, just matter of fact. Sympathetic works too. I’ve put things off in my life, or had to redo things because I rushed through and it’s a pain to have to do it again. So I’m sad with them, but we need to do it. If you feel she’s likely to do NOTHING again. I would either have unlimited time that she has to sit at the table till it’s done, assign chores till she changes her attitude, or try a 3rd time after dad is home for the evening. I haven’t really had to do that much though because the calm and the sympathy really helps them to understand that they do need to get this done.Wings2flyParticipant
I had a similar scheduling question last week. Our days were too long. I am learning that I have to be the one in charge of the timer and the schedule, at least during a training time. Your focus has to be on the time of the lesson and not the number of pages, etc. Here is a post I found recently that was helpful on this.
And although I do not record it as school, when my children get to their free time, they are still learning! My dd8 likes to learn piano and crochet, each with a DVD, and she practices that and reads or writes. Lately, my ds11 likes to read the encyclopedia set, finding the various subjects interesting. And time for nature walks or going to the park are time well spent, too.
Something new I did with this schedule was to schedule in breaks, like 15 min. every 1 to 1 1/2 hours. This gives them something to look forward to.
But my son takes way too much time on his Can Do Cursive and I have him finish where he left off on his break. I have scheduled 20 minutes for only one page, which should take only 10 minutes. He usually still gets a break, but it is shorter. I am hoping this will motivate him to finish sooner. If I help more with math, it gets done quicker too.Rachel WhiteParticipant
do you have your daughter come back to the subject after all the other subjects are complete? Not necessarily. Sometimes I just had her come back to it after a different subject that used a different part of her brain.
What gets pushed out when she has to repeat a subject? As said above: privileges. It’s natural consequences. Unless she completed it earlier as part of the switching of subjects based on brain usage mentioned above.
Are there times when she doesn’t complete what you had planned but she did apply herself — it was just harder for her than expected? Yes.
If so, how can you tell and what do you do in those cases? As the mom/teacher and using your observation skills, you will know. Just like you know when they aren’t applying themselves elsewhere in duties/life or when you expect too much (which I think this is the exception to the rule) If she hadn’t understood it as well as I thought and was truly doing her best, I spent a few minutes going over it with her again, asking her more questions and having her show me some examples of how she thinks she should do it now that I had explained/shown it to her (that way she didn’t become accustomed to me doing too much) and let her try again. (After that second go, I’d put it away till the next day, review with her then, and did she have any questions).
I confirmed to her that I’m here to help, but that she has to TELL me that she doesn’t understand it-I cannot read her mind! If she had spoken up earlier, then less time would have been wasted and she might have been finished with the subject already. So that helps to teach some assertiveness and personal responsibility for getting understanding for her material and learning-which is vital.
In my dd’s case, I realized eventually that her brain was not grasping math and the English I had put before her to do. So I had to go back a couple of levels. But that LD was different than when she was just obstinate with material she had shown understanding of previously.
Also, I did give her breaks to go jump on her rebounder, do stretches, ride her bike for 15-20 min., go feed chickens, etc., when it was obvious that she needed to get her body moving in order to help her brain concentrate better and to control her body, too. Getting the blood flowing is vital to proper brain function. HTHMonicaParticipant
Just wanted to mention that for us, 5-10 minutes/subject is sufficient for a 8YO. I usually plan 5 minutes of work per subject per grade, so, for example, my 4th grader will do 20 minutes of math each day this upcoming school year, and my 2nd grader will do 10.
I always thought that wouldn’t be enough time to get any real learning done, but, in fact, I find that limiting the time allows for more learning. Very short lessons ensures full attention and engagement. Best of all there is no burnout – so tomorrow’s lesson is welcomed and doesn’t become drudgery.
Thanks for the advice everyone!
I tried a timed lesson with just his math today and he really liked it and remained focused! It’s too early to tell if the results will be lasting, but I was pleasantly surprised with how he stuck with it.
Melanie32, when I thought back to some of the complaints he has had about doing his math, I can see that your thinking on this is right on track. He will look at the page(s) and say things like “This will take FOREVER” or “There are SO MANY problems!”. Today, knowing that he could stop in 15 minutes, he didn’t complain at all and got right to work. He completed almost as much as I would normally have him do anyway.
Oh, and I am new to really knowing about Charlotte Mason and her education philosophy, but I’m not exactly new to doing Charlotte Mason style schooling — at least to some degree. We’ve been using Sonlight and lots of other living books. He loves that part of ‘school’! He just hates writing, so anything that forces him to put a pencil to paper, he resists.
Wings2Fly – I just read the blog post you linked to yesterday! That’s actually what inspired me to ask this question.Wings2flyParticipant
Oh, good. For my son’s math, since he is in a higher grade, we have two 20 minute math sessions. He does much better at this than to do it all at once.TristanParticipant
Yes, it can work! And you can sort of combine it with what you mentioned you already do (him having to work until the day’s load is finished). Here is how:
Give him his assignments and have him set a timer for each. When the timer beeps he is done and moves on to the next thing on the list (another assignment, a break, lunch, whatever it may be). When he reaches the end of the day’s timed sections anything he didn’t complete during the assigned time is now his ‘homework’ to sit and complete. At my house it works well to plan something fun for this afternoon ‘homework time’ that the child will miss out on. For us, it is outside time. The siblings head outside to play and enjoy because they got their work done and the dawdler is stuck inside still working.
Be sure that what you are asking them to do in a short lesson is really doable according to their abilities/age. In the beginning you can even make the workload too easy for each time slot to be sure that there is no reason they shouldn’t get the work done in the allotted time.
Encourage and praise them for each time they get the work done in a time slot with no homework left over for the afternoon, too!albanyaloeParticipant
Wow, this is an excellent post and I think it may actually answer this post.
Thank you ladies, you have helped me a lot. These are wonderful ideas and I can see where I was going wrong. Can’t wait to try this next term.
I know this post is a year old now, but I want you all to know how wonderfully helpful it was for me to read as I prepare for our second year of homeschool! We had a generally successful first year, but I do think I put too much stress on finishing certain assignments rather than truly judging what was reasonable and age-appropriate for my child. Thank you all again for taking the time to respond and give examples. Newbies like me gain so much from those of you that have been around the block before!
Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)
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