Having a schedule where time is a greater factor than page counts is a paradigm shift within the CM community. All around you, there are book lists. Great book list. The PNEU even provided book lists for each term. (However, I would like to note that very often their list included a portion of a book that would be continued over several terms.)
Having a schedule eliminates failure. Some of you are going to laugh at that because you think that having a schedule sets you up for failure. But listen well: if you will adhere to your schedule you cannot fail. Think about it. If you have a 30-minute Plutarch lesson prepared today, and your children attend to the reading, you will complete that 30-minute lesson successfully. Note that I did not say you will have no problem getting through x number of pages.
Let’s look at Plutarch on the schedule:
Plutarch is allotted 30 minutes on the Form II (4-6 grade) schedule. That means we get as much done in that 30-minute period as we can, and then we move on. It does not mean, however, that we rush.
Our first inclination, because we know this is a curriculum of “living books” is to spend that 30 minutes doing two things: reading the selection, and narrating. So we might think we should either read for 25 minutes, then allow maybe 5 minutes to narrate, OR read small sections, narrating as we go, and stop after our 30 minutes are up. But there is more to consider.
Let’s look at an example lesson from the appendix of Charlotte Mason’s volume 3, School Education.
|Click on the image to increase size – so you can read it better.|
I think you can see that there is a lot more going on here than to simply rush through a reading and then narrate. Included in this particular 20-minute lesson are the 4 standards when using a book for a lesson: the review, the set-up, the reading and the narration. Notice that in step 3 she specified that “about three pages” be read, but then she clearly specifies to “read this slowly and distinctly, and into the children as much as possible.”
There are MANY more sample lessons in the back of volume 3, and I would strongly advise you to study them. They are not all the same, nor do all of them include the use of a book. There are lectures and a picture talk, history and geography lessons, and even a cooking lesson for handicraft!
Charlotte Mason intended for much to be done during each lesson, and she writes a lot about how to accomplish that, but in fact, this is not a post about how to do a lesson. In this post I wanted you to see that Charlotte Mason intended there to be short lessons and a day that adheres to a time table.
The starting place is your schedule.
Living books are the heart of this kind of education, but we should not start with the book list and then make a schedule around it. On the contrary, we should create the schedule and then place our books in the correct spot. Charlotte Mason felt strongly that we must offer the children a varied education, and that means we must establish the wide room before we get cornered by the books.
Preparing a CM Schedule Main Page