What I’ve shared in the last two posts is what a true Charlotte Mason day might look like. It’s exciting to see that Charlotte Mason had a plan. When we read her books, any heading of “curriculum” usually goes on about how to do each lesson, but not how to put together your day, or your week.
It can be discouraging, however, because looking at all the schedules, lined up side by side, can be a big reminder that you are just one person, and maybe you have more than one child, in more than one form…with no assistant.
I want you to remember that this is just a starting point. Even during CM’s day people wrote that adhering to the schedule exactly as it was written was a problem. In the article On the Possibility of Doing P.U.S. Work While Keeping Strictly to the Time-Tables, K. Clendinned said:
“It seems to me that this subject may be taken in more than one way. The title at once suggest to thoughts, with which I proposed to deal separately.
First, is it possible to take the lessons of two or more classes at the exact time prescribed in the Time-table? and
Second, is it possible to accomplish the term’s programme without giving any more time to one subject and any less to another than that allotted?
In other words, how far is it possible to do the P.U.S. work keeping strictly to the Time-table and the Programme?
For many simple and obvious reasons with which I scarcely like to burden you it is quite impossible in a school to take all the lessons at the set time and for the set period.”
I would encourage you to read that entire article. It is very encouraging – in an “I’m not the only one” kind of way.
Miss Elsie Kitching spoke on the subject also, during a discussion of what subjects to leave out when time is limited:
“The general outcome of the discussion was to the effect that some modifications of the programme and time-table is absolutely necessary, each teacher using her own discretion in the matter. Somebody very wisely remarked that Ms. Mason intends the programme to fit the child, and not, as some wildly imagine, the child to fit the programme.”
However, before you disvalue what we have before us, remember that having a schedule is very important. Miss. Mason was concerned about the children, and the work they must do, but also that they have time to ruminate on the ideas presented and rest their brains.
E. A. Parish wrote in the PR Article, Imagination as a Powerful Factor in a Well-balanced Mind:
For the right use of the programmes two things are necessary – solitude and independence. Children must have these. Nursery children come off fairly well in these respects; they get time when they can wander and dream alone in the garden. But this happy state often ends where school-room life begins. Lessons, walk, and lessons again, always in company, and always something that must be done now. Miss Mason devises time-tables which cover such reasonable hours as to leave time over for this solitude, but parents are often very culpable in thinking that Tango or some other new thing must be learned as well, and the much needed time for solitude is used for plans which necessitate hurried journeys, always in the company of a responsible person, who feels it her duty to talk in an instructive way, and the thinking time, the growing time, the time in which the mind is to find food is diminished, and the child becomes restless, tiresome, irritable, disobedient – everything that a child who is reputed to be difficult can be. The parents marvel and say, “But we are giving him the best education that can be procured, we are neglecting no opportunities.” Kind, generous parents! You are giving your child every opportunity but one, and that is self-development; by your generous care, you are safeguarding him from ever using his own mind, every relying upon himself in any way. The child who at first found interference irksome, later depends on it so much that he is unable to work without constant prodding from his mentor. I believe that this is the prime reason of the oft repeated lament of teachers and professors, “Little ones so eager, older children are less keen, adults are dull and lethargic.”
The particular schedules we have looked at may not work for your family as written, but I hope that by now you recognize the importance of having a schedule. We are allowed some freedom in devising one that fits our family, so we must consider how to go about preparing one that works for us. (We’re getting to that, I promise.)