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    Secrets from Charlotte Mason on Scheduling for Peace

    June 19, 2014 by Christy Hissong
    It's possible to give a child a Charlotte Mason education that is scheduled in a way that brings peace rather than overwhelms. Here's how.

    This time last year my then-10-year-old son was finishing Year 4 of AmblesideOnline’s (AO) stellar curriculum and we were both, quite frankly, fried. Our days began early. We enjoyed a morning time together in which we read from the Psalter, sang our hymn and folksong, read poetry aloud and recited Scripture. So far, so good. Our minds and hearts were full of truth, beauty and goodness. What a great way to start the day!

    We had breakfast, did chores, and then plunged into the day’s assigned readings and disciplinary work. I pre-read, we scaffolded, he read well, he narrated, we discussed. We worked hard, really hard, all day and finally came up for air just in time for me to rustle up some grub for dinner.

    At the end of the school year I was not only exhausted, but full of fear and trembling for the even more rigorous years of learning that lay ahead. I knew something was wrong. Why was “school” taking our whole day?

    I’ve studied Charlotte Mason’s writings for years, the atmosphere of our home seemed conducive to loving and learning, we were developing good disciplinary habits, we embraced living books and living ideas. Yet the end of each day found us depleted and weary instead of inspired and fulfilled. I was grateful that summer had come and we could rest, recover, seek counsel and pray for answers.

    When June arrived, my friends and I headed off to the annual Charlotte Mason Education Conference where I had been so inspired and renewed in years past. On the first full day at the very first session I attended, I heard Nancy Kelly say the words that would rock my world, change our lives, and become my mantra for the following year: “Keep cutting back until there is peace in your home.” My mouth dropped open and I caught my breath. What? Did she just say what I think she said? But what about all the lovely living books we might miss? What if we had gaps in our history and science learning? What if we {gasp!} didn’t finish a book?

    Throughout the conference I heard various speakers say, “Are we reading too many good books?” “Are you teaching your students to build margin in their lives?” “A full life does not equal a busy life.” “Choose the best books and less of them.” “Don’t rush! We have a lifetime of learning ahead of us.” Are you seeing a pattern here?

    But where to begin? Maybe the problem was me. I came home and reread Essex Cholmondley’s The Story of Charlotte Mason, focusing on Mason’s own personal schedule — the way she lived so intentionally and embraced margin in her life. Surely she would have wanted no less for the children whose educational lives were in her keeping.

    Cholmondley says, “She never worked out of hours nor let herself think of problems at night … She never let herself be ‘anxious.’” She told her teachers-in-training, “The children need your utmost freshness of mind and energy, so do not sit up late preparing lessons; what you seem to gain in preparation you lose by tiredness next day.” Ouch. Her words hit this night owl right between the eyes.

    Working “out of hours” is often necessary for moms, but maybe I could do my pre-reading and prep earlier in the day so late nights would be an exception instead of the rule. And maybe I could get up a bit earlier to spend time with the Lord in the morning instead of meeting him “in the watches of the night.”

    In that same wonderful book I also found this quote from one of CM’s teachers-in-training about her time at Scale How:

    Again, to many of us life was overfull. We would not be hurried; we liked to say ‘I will do it in my own time.’ But at Scale How time was to be respected, given to the thing or person claiming it rightfully. Then there would always be time, without over-pressure or distraction. This sense of time value was hard to achieve but it bore the test of experience during the two years’ training. What an effort of faith it all was to one so slow to read, to write and to think. It did not seem possible to find a moment for everything, yet if no time was wasted there was plenty of it and no hurry.

    Were we wasting time somewhere? Were we dawdling over several little things that added up to a big time drain? How long did it really take to make that bed anyway? And could you really read Redwall while brushing your teeth in a timely manner, as my son claimed?

    Next I accessed the Parents’ Review article from AO’s website which gives detailed time-tables used by the Parents’ Union Schools (P.U.S.), (Vol. 19, p. 899, 1908). The daily schedule for Form II (grades 4-6) looked so … simple. 8 subjects covered in 3 hours daily. Why was “school” taking us so long each day?

    After conferring with some other CM moms I began to understand that Mason’s students were required to give focused attention to a subject for a certain period of time — not a certain number of pages. Then while mining the Charlotte Mason Digital Collection curated by Redeemer University College, I found that in a talk given at a House of Education alumni conference, Mason’s close personal friend and secretary, Elsie Kitching, said it is better to leave the term’s work unfinished than to rush the pupils through for the sake of having finished the work set. Hmmmmm … this was getting interesting!

    Next I was rewarded with these little nuggets from a Parents’ Review article entitled “The Work and Aims of the Parents’ Union School” by Miss O’Ferrall (PR Vol. 3, No. 11, 1922):

    And now we will take a look at the carefully arranged time-tables. Practically all the bookwork is done in the morning when the children are fresh and ready to tackle the more arduous part of their work. The hours are not long — two and a half for the first form, four for the Vth and VIth; an hour more later in the day for II, III, and IV and a couple for the Vth and VIth. This is exclusive of practising, dancing, sewing and a certain amount of reading. The lessons are carefully arranged for the various days, no lesson is longer than twenty minutes in the first form whilst in the Vth and VIth the average length is about forty minutes.

    So maybe their days looked something like this:

    • Form I (grades 1-3): 2.5 hours of morning work, 1 hour of afternoon work
    • Form II (grades 4-6): 2.5 hours of morning work, 1 hour of afternoon work
    • Forms III & IV (grades 7-9): 3.0-3.5 hours of morning work, 1.5 hours of afternoon work
    • Forms V & VI (grades 10-12): 4 hours of morning work, 2 hours of afternoon work

    That same PR article continues:

    The afternoons are free as far as book-work is concerned for both students (HOE teachers-in-training) and children (in the practicing school), and are spent in nature work, walks, Girl Guiding and games.

    As the staff conduct the Nature and Bird Walks for the College (House of Education), so the students take them for the (practicing) school. Then comes 3:45 when the children have an hour’s work before tea — handicrafts, singing, painting, picture study are the type of lessons given at this time. Then comes tea, after which the children read and sew and have some time to amuse themselves.

    So let me get this straight: The P.U.S. students were engaged in book-work for 3 hours each morning, then after lunch they had time for nature walks and journaling, games and scouting. At 3:45 they spent an hour enjoying things like handicrafts, art and artist study. After tea they read and had a little “free time.”

    And then I found this gem in “Imagination as a Powerful Factor in a Well-Balanced Mind” by E. A. Parish, Parents’ Review Vol. 25, No. 5, 1914:

    … two things are necessary — solitude and independence. Children must have these … 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.

    So much for excessive extracurricular activities, huh? Although my son is an only child and a very outgoing soul, maybe he would derive more benefit from relaxed time at home in which to process his learning than he would in swimming umpteen laps every afternoon.

    I kept going back to the P.U.S time-table. What if I plugged our booklist into those timeslots? Two geography slots a week — so be it. Three natural history readings a week — done. Where CM had French, I plugged in Spanish. Where she had English History I substituted American History. When I had completed this exercise, I still had some assigned books/readings without a timeslot. Maybe this was the excess that had been keeping us from enjoying the best?

    But even if I believed that, was I brave enough to try this pared-down schedule? If we didn’t overdo the after-school activities, we could still enjoy the “lovely bits” — drawing, artist study, poetry, handicrafts (for us that means gardening and cooking) in the early afternoon. Maybe Dad would like to share some of our learning over supper or on Sunday evening? My wheels were really spinning by this time! This just might work!

    After much thought and prayer, we decided to take the plunge and bring our learning schedule as close as we could to Charlotte Mason’s own. If the time-table said we should spend 20 minutes reading history, my son read for 17 and narrated for 3. Instead of a certain number of lines for copywork, he wrote for 15 minutes, came to a good stopping place, and closed the book.

    We finished book-work at lunchtime, and spent the afternoons taking nature walks, painting, cooking or reading aloud. We shared poetry with Dad at supper, and enjoyed artist study and special read-alouds as a family on Sunday evenings. Instead of setting aside time for composer study, we kept the term’s music playing while we ate breakfast, did chores, cooked supper. And who says you can’t paint or chop veggies while you discuss Plutarch?

    The result of our great experiment? The most peaceful, focused, fruitful year of learning we have ever experienced. When everything was done in its own time and we allowed our learning to spill over into our “life,” there really was time for everything without rushing. And when the afternoons were given to inspirational offerings like nature study, art, music and handicrafts, we were even ready for some more reading in the evening.

    I won’t pretend we never looked back. At times I inadvertently allowed my public school mentality to creep back in (like devoting too much time to language arts or requiring too many math drills), or tried adding back in those books I’d weeded out (oh, the pitfalls of bibliophilia!). But the joy really is in the journey, and we are constantly honing our goals, attitudes and habits to bring them more closely in line with who God calls us to be. His mercies are new every morning, and each day is another chance to learn a little more.

    Now in the process of planning our Y6, I’m determined to resist the siren call of all the good books out there and choose only the very best for our family. Less really is more. Charlotte Mason knew whereof she spoke — not just about a philosophy of education, but on ordering the day as well. “Keep cutting back until there is peace in your home.” Wise words well spoken — and just in time.

    Don’t miss my follow-up post!

    School is War: Scheduling for Peace Revisited

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  • Reply Homeschool Planning Tools & Daily Planners For Busy Mamas January 21, 2020 at 9:27 pm

    […] Afterthoughts Blog has some more great secrets on Scheduling for Peace which I find greatly encouraging and helpful in thinking about how to set up our morning and use short lessons. […]

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  • Reply Myth: CM homeschools ought to recreate the PUS timetables. | Afterthoughts August 28, 2019 at 12:16 pm

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  • Reply Christy Hissong July 11, 2019 at 5:37 pm

    Thanks for your kind remarks, Renee. Be sure to check out my follow-up post (linked above) as it fleshes these ideas out further.

  • Reply Renee July 10, 2019 at 1:37 pm

    I have been thinking about plugging our studies into a morning schedule, so your article was insightful. Thanks!

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  • Reply Christy Hissong July 6, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    I’m glad it was helpful, Rebecca!

  • Reply Rebecca July 4, 2018 at 4:32 pm

    Thank you for writing this! It is such an encouragement and tremendously helpful as I try to plan a peaceful school year for us!

  • Reply Kathleen January 15, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    I really really needed this. We are just starting AO4 and feeling the weight. Where can i find a simple timetable to plug things into please? Thanks

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  • Reply Nancy August 22, 2017 at 6:39 am

    A well timed article for me to read. I am a fan of CM but do not follow it. I often think about the CM ideas and techniques especially when planning for the next school year. However in our home we have chosen to use curriculum and have used the various curriculum as a guide for our school year and daily schedule.
    Yesterday I gathered together the various academic work for my 2nd grader and had a panic that there was no way she was going to want to work that long without some sort of adjustment time. I was a bit shocked because I was hoping to have just a couple of hours of curriculum work time with some independent work as review as needed and discovered that our school work time was at least double of last year.
    This article is a welcomed answer to prayer that was not yet spoken. And while reading it things began to fit in my mind as to how the plan can be changed and altered how I looked at the to do’s in the plan.
    Thank you for this article, you are a blessing.

  • Reply Janeen Ruby August 18, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Wonderful, well thought-out comments. Thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge so that it can encourage and inspire others!

  • Reply Michelle July 9, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    Wow, this is such a beautiful post! I cannot wait to reread it with my husband tonight and start praying over our schedule for next year. Thank you!

    • Reply Christy Hissong July 10, 2017 at 11:31 am

      Glad it was helpful, Michelle! Don’t forget to check out my follow-up post — I think Brandy titled it School is War. It was written a few years after that original post, so I had a few more years of experience under my belt and hopefully had gleaned a few more insights, too 😉

  • Reply Nancy Buterbaugh September 21, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Am I correct thought that the PNEU schools met 6 days a week? So if we are doing a 5 or even 4 day schedule our days would have to be correspondingly longer?

    • Reply Christy Hissong September 21, 2016 at 5:24 pm

      You’re right about the six-day weeks, although it was mostly morning work with some afternoon reading for the older students. You can see a sample timetable here:

      That said, please don’t think you must cram six days’ worth of work into 4 or 5. We do most of our work in 4 days with a CM co-op each Friday and some Sunday readings. Just scale back to what is manageable for you and yours. You may think you can manage all the readings, but usually something has to give (especially as you move into the upper years) and it’s usually the things that make for a rich and generous education — poetry, nature study, composers, picture study, languages, handwork, etc. So pray for discernment as you make the hard choices and don’t miss out on those life-giving riches!

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  • Reply Tonya Meadows May 17, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I’m just now researching the Charlotte Mason method in more detail. I was worried about how we were going to fit it all in. This post is much needed inspiration and is wonderful advice. Thanks so much for taking the time to write it.

  • Reply Rose April 13, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    I had a terrible time with this earlier this year and read on a few CM forums and found I was not alone. It is so hard to keep within the “guidelines” of the CM method and JUST KISS!

    • Reply Rose April 13, 2016 at 3:12 pm

      btw, THANK YOU for posting this. This is a tremendous help as I’m planning my next year.

      • Reply Christy Hissong May 24, 2016 at 4:24 pm

        Don’t know how I missed your comment, Rose — we have moved in the past month and I’ve been without internet service until today! Glad the post was useful 😉

        • Reply Rose May 28, 2016 at 7:12 am

          Welcome back to the online world. I actually need an Internet hiatus.

  • Reply The Woods, a Mole, and Homeschool Sanity March 28, 2016 at 5:32 am

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  • Reply Lauren February 4, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Wow! I pare down and then I allow the schedule to creep longer until I’m tired and anxious. I was actually looking for something else and this popped up on Google. Exactly what I needed. I love the way God directs my steps even when I’m not looking. Thank you for this!

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  • Reply Heather November 23, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    This is probably a silly ? But I’m new to CM… When it says 2.5 hours in the morning & 1 hour of afternoon work, is that afternoon time the teatime/nature study/handicraft or is that in addition to 3.5 hours of work?

    • Reply Christy Hissong November 23, 2015 at 6:20 pm

      There are no silly questions, Heather, and I’m sure others are wondering the very same thing! As I understand it, that hour before tea could have been spent on sewing and other handcrafts, nature journaling, practicing an instrument, extra reading — it was structured and not what we consider free play. For high school students there may have been another hour of assigned reading in the evening, too. Hope this helps!

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  • Reply Cassie W. October 30, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    I re-read this post this morning and have been pondering it all day. What about high school age students? Is this still true? I mean, yes, I want it to be, but I’m struggling with it. We are wrapping up our first term and I’m planning our second term and something has to give for my high school student. It’s a daily rush. His end of term examinations revealed that changes need to be made. So, that is what I’m pondering today.

    • Reply Christy Hissong November 23, 2015 at 6:37 pm

      I’m sorry I missed your comment, Cassie, but I’ll try to respond belatedly 😉 My only son is 12yo so I don’t have direct experience with the upper years yet. But I have so many friends who struggle to balance present-day graduation and college entrance requirements with CM’s idea of a rigorous but well-rounded curriculum designed to grow the whole person and prepare them for a rich life. I believe with CM that no one benefits from trying to cram it all in. We can’t possibly cover everything, and end up as a Jack of all trades and master of none! Much better to cover less ground but really know the ground you do cover. Think “deep” instead of “wide” when deciding what you’ll tackle. Just my .02.

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  • Reply Megan Hartshorn August 14, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    Thank you, thank you for this post. I have tears in my eyes… what refreshment to my soul. This past year was such a challenge and we seriously considered sending our kids to public school several times, even in CA. How can we do everything and do ANY of it well? That was my everyday question. My husband is a pastor/ church planter and we are on our third church plant, and just completed our first year of church plant number three after a three year seminary journey, which was very wonderful yet difficult. We have moved six times in our ten years of marriage, lived in three states (NY, KS, and now CA) and had four kids in five years (two being twins). “Cut back until there is peace in my home”… yes!!!!!!! we did that this year. I didn’t know it was okay and have felt immense GUILT for what was seemingly left undone, especially with my two five year olds… we are just beginning CM and AO after the rigors of Classical Conversations over the past two years that wiped us all out. I needed encouragement as we begin this new journey with CM… I feel so inadequate in it all, but am thankful for those who have gone before us… i will be back to visit w a cup of tea and to fine encouragement for my soul. The Lord knows what we have need of.

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  • Reply Christy Hissong June 21, 2015 at 4:44 pm

    It sounds like your lives have been very full the past few years, Sarah, but there are seasons in life like that. Glad this post helped you get started in a new direction. There are so many good things out there to offer our children, but margin in which to digest the feast we’re spreading is a very good thing.

  • Reply Sarah June 21, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Oh, this is so good! I’ve been really thinking about what it looks like to have a “successful” year of homeschooling for our family–for me that means being consistent and relatively thorough. But in the last three years we’ve had a baby after a big gap with no little ones (my others were 6, 8, and 11), my husband quit his longtime job, and we moved 2000 miles away to start a church. That’s a lot of life change in a short time, and I’ve felt like our schooling has suffered!

    After reading this, though, I realize I had to cut back a lot to keep peace in our home, and that this was better than cramming it all in to burnout. Your wise words have kept me from overplanning for this coming term, which is what I was leaning toward. Thank you for sharing–I’m bookmarking this to come back to!

  • Reply Rachel Marie May 22, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    I love this post. With a busy family of 8 children I am always thinking of how we can “promote peace.” One of my favorite passages for us to meditate on is James 3:17-18. So your thoughts here are very encouraging. It is SOOOO easy to get sucked into the comparison trap and feel burdened by a sense of needing to “keep up” with how another family is homeschooling. But I need to always keep in mind what is healthy and peaceful for THIS family. I read The Charlotte Mason Companion back when our oldest (13) was little. , while I liked what I read, I didn’t grasp the CM method and didn’t really use it. I just used some ideas from it, but without really understanding the whole scope. So now I’m reading Afterthoughts and the links I find here. And I just ordered For the Children’s Sake and I’m taking notes and trying to figure out how to sort of revamp our homeschool to fully use the CM method (whatever that really means for US). I haven’t figured out yet exactly what that may look like for high school though which makes me nervous because we’re almost there!! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on scheduling for peace 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel May 22, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Glad you’re here, Rachel. 🙂

    • Reply Christy Hissong May 23, 2015 at 2:15 pm

      So glad you were encouraged, Rachel! “Peace” looks different in every home, but we can all take small, steady steps to reduce stress and bring margin to our lives.

  • Reply Jennifer April 27, 2015 at 12:08 am

    Your last name just really struck me. Is it really your last name? His Song??
    What a blessing…


    • Reply Christy Hissong April 27, 2015 at 7:26 am

      Yep — His Song (and I’m a singer, to boot!)


      • Reply Jenny July 10, 2018 at 6:43 am

        Are you in the Hissing family that sings gospel and travels the country? They came to a local church here in Maine – fantastic!!

        Btw- loved this post. Came at just the right time. We are going to be attempting a 3 day formal school schedule with a day at a nature school and a co op day filling in days 4 and 5. Praying for the discernment to find the right books as we attempt an all age inclusive “curriculum” for my 4th and 1st grader.

  • Reply Jennifer April 27, 2015 at 12:02 am

    Wow. I needed this. Tears of relief. I’m printing it and will reread often during the summer. Best. post. ever.

  • Reply Melanie April 16, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Thanks for responding so quickly Christie!

    I’ll be looking forward to an update on your journey of scheduling for peace. It’s something so many of us homeschool moms want to accomplish.

  • Reply Christy Hissong April 16, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    Whoops — meant to say, “…this does NOT disrupt our daily learning.”

  • Reply Melanie April 16, 2015 at 3:27 am

    This blog post has been such a blessing to me. I have come back to it again and again.

    Christy-on Charlotte’s original schedule, she only scheduled composition once a week. Was that simply written narrations? If so, did you do the same? Or do you factor in the time for written narrations during individual subject time slots? I am curious. I can’t find any thing that tells us how often CM required written narrations. Any clue?


    • Reply Christy Hissong April 16, 2015 at 9:17 am

      I’m glad the post was helpful, Melanie! I have assumed CM meant that scheduled “composition” time to be fine-tuning written narrations, but I could be mistaken. My recently turned 12yo ds isn’t yet completely comfortable with the physical mechanics of writing his thoughts by hand, so I only require 1 written narration and 1 science notebook entry per week. He is learning to type which may help in the long-run, and we will spend a significant amount of time this summer trying to bring his handwriting up to speed so he can express his thoughts in a clearer and more timely manner. With that said, I have required written narrations right after a reading — not waiting for a designated “composition” time on our schedule. As I only have one student and we have plenty of margin built into our week, this does disrupt our daily learning. I plan to write a follow-up post which further explains my original intent in writing the “scheduling for peace” post last summer. Stay tuned!

      • Reply Alicia August 16, 2015 at 9:34 pm

        Hi Christy,

        What an eye opening and encouraging article. Thank-you!

        You mentioned that you were going to do a follow up post. I was wondering where I might find that post as well.

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  • Reply patty February 22, 2015 at 9:24 am

    This is wonderful! I’ve been following closely. So let me see if I have this correct. The children do all the readings on their own and then orally narrate to mom? Which subjects are done this way? Which subjects require any writing, etc? Oh, and are narrations done after each reading (subject)? I’m wondering if I can pull this off. Has anyone made “A Day in the Life of…” video?
    Thank you all for sharing!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 23, 2015 at 8:17 am

      Hi Patty! If you sign up for my Newbie Tuesday newsletter {it’s free!}, you automatically receive the first issue, which was all on narration. I think it would answer most of your questions. 🙂

  • Reply Cameron February 22, 2015 at 9:18 am

    Thanks! I appreciate your feedback and look forward to reading the enrichment post in the future.

  • Reply Cameron February 21, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Thanks for the advice. I do realize we are in a special place right now with so many little ones and it’s probably going to be challenging no matter what I do while they are so small. I have looked at Sabbath Mood Homeschool and her series on planning. It has been very encouraging. I am still curious about your Friday schedule. Does your year 7 student do all his AO readings in 4 days during the time slots you have outlined in your sample schedule? Our girls love the reading it just takes so long to hear every child narrate every lesson. I hate to hurry them, but often I do since I feel the pressure of getting done for the sake of younger siblings. I love the idea of an enrichment Friday, I am just not sure how we would pull that off. Is your schedule listed for that day somewhere? Thanks for your thoughts.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 21, 2015 at 8:53 pm

      I’m working on an Enrichment Friday post … I will try to get it up soon! Right now, yes, my Y7 student is doing all of his readings in 4 days. I will say that there are two books that aren’t in his schedule right now because one we had already done, and the other (Fearfully and Wonderfully Made) he is doing in the evenings with his Dad, plus he is taking a logic class outside of the home, so he’s not doing How to Read a Book, either. If he was doing all of that, he would have to read at least a partial day on Friday, for sure. I think he is slightly behind on Ivanhoe as well, because, again, we’re going by time, and it takes longer than I budgeted.

      I did write about our Year Seven schedule here, and we’ve pretty much stuck with it as written.

  • Reply Cameron February 21, 2015 at 9:49 am

    What would be your advice in working with multiple students. I am finding it hard to maintain my time tables because I am caring for so many little ones. My year 4&6 students are very independent, but my year 1&0 students really need my help. Meanwhile I have 20 mo. old twins and a 3 year old who are quite busy and distracting. I am curious how you, Brandy, do all your AO readings in 4 days. Do you complete all the readings in 36 weeks? We just keep skipping Latin, Plutarch, nature study and grammar. I love the idea of an enrichment Friday, but how does the rest fall in line? Thanks for any wisdom you might have! I appreciate this post and this blog.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel February 21, 2015 at 11:26 am

      I will be honest and say that I think that you are in a very special place with three toddlers in your home, and it is probably inevitable that some things will fall through the cracks until they are a bit older. I can’t answer this thoroughly in a comment, though I hope to get to a post on it soon, but here are a few thoughts I have.

      1. My number one rule of thumb is to combine what can be combined. I think that the more students you have, the more important this becomes. So, for example, my girls happen to be peers when it comes to math, therefore we do math together. That right there saves me about half an hour a day. It’s a situation particular to our home, of course, but I think each home has its things.
      2. Go to Sabbath Mood Homeschool, if you haven’t already, and read through all her posts and watch all the videos on CM scheduling.
      3. Sometimes, we do less of a good thing. So, for example, we only get through two lives of Plutarch per year.
      4. When you are sticking to time periods rather than page numbers, sometimes it means less gets done in a year. I was hoping my Y4 daughter would do all three AO literature selections for this year, but now I’m not sure. We’ll see. We schedule it a certain number of minutes per week, and Robinson Crusoe took a very long time, partly because I needed to read it aloud.
      5. Sometimes I just choose a subject to combine my littles in. In fact, for next year, I’m pretty sure I’m combining all three of my younger students and doing California geography instead of what is assigned in their individual AO years, while my junior higher will continue with whatever is assigned. I’m not doing it BECAUSE it saves time, but we all definitely benefit from the fact that it saves time.

      Those are my thoughts off the top of my head. I cannot recommend Sabbath Mood Homeschool enough! Her series was brilliant. I did not end up doing exactly what she does in her own process, but knowing what she did revolutionized what I do, if that makes sense.

  • Reply Patty February 13, 2015 at 8:57 am

    Thank you Christy! I have so much to ponder here.

    • Reply Christy Hissong February 13, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      You are very welcome 😉

  • Reply Patty February 12, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Thank you so much! Glad I found you. Where would one find this great CM schedule you decided to follow?

    • Reply Christy Hissong February 13, 2015 at 4:00 am

      Hi Patty, the timetables Charlotte Mason used in her PNEU schools are here:
      Remember these approximate equivalents:
      Form I = grades 1-3
      Form II = Grades 4-6
      Forms III & IV = Grades 7-9
      Forms V & VI = Grades 10-12

      Best, Christy

  • Reply Rochelle February 10, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    Oh heavens, this is one of the best homeschool posts I’ve read in an age. Absolutely brilliant, inspiring, and just what I needed to hear. I am incredibly guilty of staying up late to prepare and then the next day Mama is an angry bear because she’s so stinking tired. Or I cut all that beautiful stuff out because I need a short nap. Then I start the process all over again because I’m frustrated. Then I get the shiny new object syndrome. I see so many lovely resources for homeschooling and I want to use them all. All of them. Then I try to Frankenstein Monster them to make it into one great big whole and we all know where that leads. Now I just need help figuring out how to decide which is TRULY the best and cut the rest. You have any direction for me there?

    • Reply Christy Hissong February 13, 2015 at 3:56 am

      I’m so glad the post was helpful, Rochelle! I’ve been pondering your question about HOW to choose the best so you can cut the rest — it’s not an easy thing. First off: Pray, asking God to reveal His best for your particular child. We follow the free Ambleside Online curriculum, but even the brilliant ladies who created the curriculum would agree that it is heavily loaded with lovely choices and you may not be able to read them all while maintaining peace in your home. When I need to cut something, I sit down with my student and explore which resources are his favorites and why. If he can give valid reasons for his choices (not just “It’s too hard,” or “I don’t like the writer’s style,” etc.) that helps me decide which books are making a real impression. If my child refers to a book often, that’s also a good clue.

      Hope this helps,

  • Reply Amy Marie February 8, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    So good!! Thank you for sharing! 🙂

    • Reply Christy Hissong February 13, 2015 at 4:01 am

      You’re welcome — glad you were encouraged!


  • Reply Shannon February 3, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    Bless you, lady, for writing this! I was just feeling THE EXACT WAY, and I was wrestling with thoughts of “am I doing this right?” “Will this work for us?” “maybe we just aren’t cut out for CM??!”

    Definitely doing some trimming here.

    • Reply Christy Hissong February 13, 2015 at 4:00 am

      I’m so glad my post was helpful, Shannon!

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