We have looked at the PNEU’s programmes and schedules for the last few days, but you might want to know – How is this going to help?
First, I quoted E. A. Parish in a previous post regarding the importance of getting done with the school day at a reasonable time, so the students have time to ruminate on the brain food they have consumed that day. This is a huge topic which I find very interesting, but I think we better not follow that rabbit trail just now. Suffice it to say that Charlotte Mason felt strongly that the children needed to be outside, and have time to play, and walk, and work with their hands for their brains to work properly, and modern research has backed up the validity of this.
Second, we talked about having a schedule where time is a greater factor than page counts, and I pointed out that this method eliminates failure. If your schedule is the foundation of your day, then you will be done at the appropriate time each day. You will have successfully completed each lesson, each day.
This summer I have been using an app called Duolingo to learn German. I wanted to get a jump on it before trying to teach my children during the coming school year. Some days I don’t complete a lesson successfully – in other words, I don’t pass to the next level. But every day I spend 10-15 minutes practicing. I think Charlotte Mason would say that my daily effort counts more than how fast I pass levels. In fact, Duolingo encourages me to continue my “5 day German streak”, or whatever day I’m on. They know the value of the continued effort.
Can you see that I cannot fail this way? If my goal is to make a strong effort for a short time everyday, and then I do that, I have succeeded. And in the long term I will make progress. But if I make a goal to pass a level each day, I am likely to fail at least some of the time. I may spend an extended time trying to pass, and that may cut into other things I need to do. In the end, I may succeed in passing that lesson, but fail elsewhere.
By adhering to my schedule, and counting time rather than pages or lessons, I keep control of my day, which equals less stress. To extend my example above, if I take too long to finish my German lesson, I may not get all of the laundry done, and I have therefore created stress for myself.
Some years back I realized that being late to an appointment caused me so much stress that it was hurting my relationship with my kids. They were stuck in the car with an anxiety ridden mom, after all. On the contrary, if I left the house with plenty of time to get to the next event, I didn’t have the stress, and frankly I was nicer. Even if I left things unfinished back at home, I still didn’t feel the stress. Moving from subject to subject during your school day is the same way. When you are done with your 30 minutes of math you leave it behind and focus on dictation, for instance, but if you are late starting dictation, then you begin feeling stressed. You will either have to shorten your time for dictation, or you will have to be late to the next thing on your list. It’s better to just move on to the next item and leave the last item behind. It will be there tomorrow, or next week, or whenever if shows up on your schedule again.
My last point is that when you operate this way, you can do more hard things. It sounds a little bit counterintuitive, because I just told you to move on even if you didn’t pass the lesson or finish the pages you had hoped to complete. I told you not to rush, and that you shouldn’t be stressed, but now I’m telling you that the hard things will be easier. More accurately, you and your kids will have the mental fortitude to tackle the hard things, because you aren’t wasting mental energy on stress or failure, and you will be filling up your mental stores with afternoon free time. I have seen this happen in my house, and I know you will too.