I was wondering if the SCM team or Sonya or members with older children could explain more about how to keep lessons short in the middle and upper grades? Or if that is particularly relevant to the CM philosophy in the middle and upper grades? I notice that we’ve transitioned to longer lessons now, but I’m also questioning whether this is in keeping with the CM philosophy and whether it is beneficial/detrimental/neutral to their studies. Specifically, I am wondering about the lessons they do independently.
CM promoted 30 min. for junior high and 45 min. for high per subject.my3boysParticipant
What Rachel described is about what I do with my 8th grader. I think in one of the planning series Sonya mentions the time frame breakdown. With that age, I don’t know how you could get much reading in (as it becomes more challenging) if it were “shorter” than the 30-45 min. amount.
ETA: I do think that is short in comparison to ps where the student may spend 50 minutes or so in a classroom and still have an hour’s worth of homework from that class in the evening. Just my opinion, of course.
In following up on this, can I ask how you limit time when it comes to reading, math and writing? Do you simply insist they stop at 30/45 minutes where they are? Do your children manage this time themselves? Use timers? Do they ever get frustrated at stopping if they feel they are “on a roll” or if they feel they have not “finished”?
If you know, where specifically are the references in CM to these ages?
Sonya/SCM – do you have a course on the upper levels of a CM education, say middle and high school?Sonya ShaferModerator
Here is a blog series we did on CM through High School that might give you some ideas.
The main thing to remember with the time limits is that they are a means to an end: shorter lessons encourage full attention. They are also a way to make sure we are getting in a good variety of subjects, rather than focusing on only certain things in a day.
I think it’s helpful to teach the children why we do short lessons and let them experience the mental advantage that comes from intentionally switching things up. Once they understand how their brains work, they can monitor themselves. Getting to that point of self-monitoring may take some smaller steps with “outside guidance,” like timers or reminders.
The best place to see these time references is on some of Charlotte’s class schedules that were included in some of the Parents’ Review publications. You can also read some comments about short lessons and a wide variety of subjects in these passages: Vol. 1, pp. 142 and 230; Vol. 3, p. 240; Vol. 5, pp. 409-410.my3boysParticipant
I agree with Sonya. We use timers, break chapters in two, keep a variety of lessons going througout the day, and change things up a bit to keep things interesting. I think this method is akin to the Flylady motto: You Can Do Anything In 15 Minutes a Day…or something like that. I figure that if my ds (8th grade) reads for appr. 30 minutes a day (or so) in his history book (The Cat of Bubastes right now) that is equivalent to 2 1/2 hours a week, not including the Bible readings we are doing for the ancients and narrations/discussions, as well. (Module 1 does not require reading from Cat of Bubastes that much in one week but we are a bit behind and so far it has not been a problem.) That is more than I remember reading from any book in ps so I’m happy with it.
What does 30-45 minutes per subject mean?
Is that for copy work, cursive (we are still doing both) and grammar too?
I have one starting Middle school next year and we have been doing 10 minutes for these subjects so far. That would be quit a jump.
Reading we do 1/2 hour twice a day, will that be enough?
Also how long should written narration be in 7th grade?
Technically, copywork is supposed to morph into a Book of Mottoes instead.
Perhaps the copywork passages can a little longer? Though, I still wouldn’t expect copywork to be taking 30 min.
I suppose written narrations should be at least 20 min. (the time frame for an elementary child). If it’s too short, then maybe it’s not detailed enough.
However, my son is still working on his cursive, so he does Presidential Penmansip cursive (which doubles as copywork all but one day) and I have him do copywork in Hebrew script, too. These obviously do not take that long, nor, frankly does his math (MUS) some days and that’s doing at least 2 lesson pages.
Dictation doesn’t take that long, either; but R & S 5 may take 30 min daily-I won’t know till next week when they start it.
Science and foreign language can take that long, depending on what he’s doing.
Logic doesn’t now, but he’ll be using Art of Argument next year, which I expect to take longer.
My read-alouds aren’t that long, but our Torah study and additional Bible/memory verse study combo is that long many days.
Some subjects take longer (like Apologia Anatomy) and some shorter (like cursive). If he’s moving too quickly and getting all correct, then I’d say it’s too easy; if he’s moving too slowly and struggling with the material, then something is not clicking and I adjust if necessary (or just get past this particular hump).
I don’t stress about it, just monitor it. Some things will take at least 30 min. and others not so much. As long as he’s challenged, yet not too frustrated; learning and growing, as well as not dawdling, either (very important).
wow my son is doing much less than 20 minutes on written narration, it takes him maybe 5 minutes! He does like to write and writes pretty fast but he could probably add more details. I guess we’ll have to work on that. I am thinking to get a writing program for next year, hopefully that will help.
I like the idea of the book of motto but it does sound like more work for me to help him find those mottos!! I’ll see how much he can find in what we have been using so far, maybe 20 minutes and 10 minutes cursive?
We are also using Presidential penmanship, it was the only one w/the font I was looking for!
Thank you so much Sonya.
I’m afraid this is my weakness and I need to be much more diligent about making sure the assignments I give are shorter and can be done in these time frames. I think I’ve been expecting them to do too much in a short period of time. I think this might be one skill trained teachers learn on the job – gaging how long a lesson should be and/or what can be accomplished in a certain period of time. I’ve also been remiss in teaching them to work diligently for a period of time and then put it down. We have had far too much emphasis on “finishing your work” and I take total responsibilty for that because that is how I am wired. I see a task, work insanely to finish it well and then power on to the next thing. Checking off boxes in a manic glee!
Claire, you gave me wonderful visuals from The Invisible Man with Claude Raines of manic laughter!
I like checking off, too as does my son. If this is an area of weakness, I’d suggest making use of a timer. It’d be an adjustment, but it wouldn’t be needed forever (at least, not likely).
I use a timer myself so I can get more accomplished (otherwise, I may not start something because it seems overwhelming or I just don’t like the task). If I know I only need 15 min. to do something, I actually get more accomplished, not less and in a very concentrated manner and with less stressed energies.
@petitemom: for the BOM, you shouldn’t be finding the quotes/sayings yourself, he should be doing it himself, as they are to be quotes/sayings that speak to him and inspire him.
We had plans for mine (12 and 12 1/2) to start theirs last year, but I never instructed them to do so (I think because they were still working on PP cursive). So I’d like to try to start that up again this coming year, even if just 1x a week.
So we could do cursive 4 times a week, book of motto once a week, written narration twice a week and another written assignment once a week? Or should there be more copywork? Are there any guidelines for that?sherazParticipant
@petitemom: I’ve had my oldest (13) practice cursive until she knew well enough to not have to think about how to do the letters. Now all she does for copywork is her spelling dictation practices. Then her dictation is in cursive. Since she already knows how to write and form her letters, I think more copywork beyond her dictation practice is just busywork. I expect her handwriting to be the best she can on her assignments.
On Fridays I require her to sit down and write in cursive the selection she choose from her books in her Book of Mottos. If she chooses to do more (sometimes she does), that’s great. But I only require one entry per week, scheduled on Friday so that she has more variety to choose from. Some passages are longer than others, but it is the content that speaks to her, so I do not try to micro-manage that.
She reads an average of 1 to 1-1/2 hours daily and will be writing at least two (perhaps three) written narrations per week (we started CM late, so have had to really practice oral narrations.)
She will use Write With the Best for 7th grade while I work with my younger ones. I think that we will be fine. =) I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to over-analyze this. Handwriting is only a small fraction of all the subjects we call Language Arts.
Yes, PP 4x a week, BOM 1x and 2 written narrations a week sound good.
I consider PP copywork. I don’t think more copywork is necessary. Whether you want to add-in another written assignment is totally up to you. I guess it would depend upon how much other writing they are doing (you don’t want a writig revolt on your hands!).
Are you doing dictation?
To be honest, mine aren’t doing written narrations yet. I want them to have more formal instruction under their belt, first. So they will have written assignments via Rod and Staff (seems to require 1-2 for each chapter, poetry included). I am continuing w/oral narrations. I assume I’ll start them on written narrations either later in his 7th yr or the following 8th yr., that way they’ll be reinforcing good skills they’ve learned; but this is just my way of doing it.
Ambleside Online scope and sequence for 7-8 and 9+:
There is guidance at Ao. This is under yr. 7:
Scroll down to grammar and composition (and further down copywork/transcription): http://amblesideonline.org/07bks.shtml#gra
AO recommends a writing handbook. I have the Writer’s Inc. handbook for myself, which is handy.
thank you both.
It is always good to have an idea of what others are doing.
I’ll look more into AO site when I have a chance…
Saving this tread!
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