Over the weekend, I type up the weekly plan in Excel and print it out. I also prepare graphic organizers, math manipulatives, etc. if time permits. Pamela, like her dear daddy, gets jazzed about marking off items as she goes and picks the order in which she does her work. She is quite the doodler, too.
Charlotte Mason considered a schedule one of the sound principles of a well-managed homeschool. Students need to know what they need to do and how long each lesson should last. On page 142 of Volume 1, she explained, "This idea of definite work to be finished in a given time is valuable to the child, not only as training him in habits of order, but in diligence; he learns that one time is not 'as good as another'; that there is no right time left for what is not done in its own time." To emphasize that point, I have a stopwatch to keep us from taking too long on a lesson.
Since things do not always go according to plan, on the weekend, I revise the list from the previous week to document what we actually accomplished. Then, I print out a clean copy and file it in a folder, pronged, of course.
You may look at our schedule and think we must spend every waking hour homeschooling! We do not.
Last week, we worked about four hours every day, doing the majority of the work in the morning. What we do is the antithesis of block schooling, which is all the rage in the schools in my town (four classes per semester, each class earning a year's worth of credit). We have very short lessons on wide and varied subjects, just as Charlotte Mason did at her schools. On page 286 of her third book, she stated that students aged elevenish to fifteenish spent 3 1/2 hours a day, using thirty-five books, to cover Bible lessons, recitations, English grammar, French, German, Latin, Italian (optional), English, French, and Ancient History (a la Plutarch's Lives), Singing (French, English, and German Songs), Writing, Dictation, Drill, Drawing in Brush and Charcoal, Natural History, Botany, Physiology, Geography, Arithmetic, Geometry, and Reading.
The secret to so many subjects is having short lessons. Notice that reading a poem only takes five minutes on my schedule. Most lessons are twenty minutes or less, even math because I have three twenty minute math lessons (Geometry, Algebra/Arithmetic, and Number Theory). Charlotted Mason recommended short lessons for reasons beyond having a wide and varied curriculum on page 142 of Volume 1,
- The sense that there is not much time for his sums or his reading, keeps the child's wits on the alert and helps to fix his attention.
- He has time to learn just so much of any one subject as it is good for him to take in at once.
- If the lessons be judiciously alternated––sums first, say, while the brain is quite fresh; then writing, or reading––some more or less mechanical exercise, by way of a rest.
- The program varying a little from day to day, but the same principle throughout––a 'thinking' lesson first, and a 'painstaking' lesson to follow,––the child gets through his morning lessons without any sign of weariness.
They had no homework!
Neither do we! If Pamela finishes everything up by Friday, she has no work on weekends and holidays. Charlotte Mason held classes on Saturday mornings, so our days last a bit longer. I find no need to dole out rewards or stickers because of one lovely, natural consequence: Pamela has more time to do what she enjoys doing, whether that be rocking on the porch rockers, using the computer, playing with her toys, making calendar lists, etc.