Single readings help build retention

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

A single reading is insisted on, because children have naturally great power of attention; but this force is dissipated by the re-reading of passages, and also, by questioning, summarizing and the like.

Acting upon these and some other points in the behavior of mind, we find that the educability of children is enormously greater than has hitherto been supposed, and is but little dependent on such circumstances as heredity and environment.

Nor is the accuracy of this statement limited to clever children or to children of the educated classes: thousands of children in Elementary Schools respond freely to this method, which is based on the behavior of mind.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6; Preface to the ‘Home Education’ Series)

Knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced

A Charlotte Mason Moment: 

As knowledge is not assimilated until it is reproduced, children should ‘tell back’ after a single reading or hearing: or should write on some part of what they have read.

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6; Preface to the ‘Home Education’ Series)

Three points to consider in education

A Charlotte Mason Moment: 

“In devising a SYLLABUS for a normal child, of whatever social class, three points must be considered:

(a) He requires much knowledge, for the mind needs sufficient food as much as does the body.

(b) The knowledge should be various, for sameness in mental diet does not create appetite. [i.e., curiosity]

(c) Knowledge should be communicated in well-chosen language, because his attention responds naturally to what is conveyed in literary form. 

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 6; Preface to the ‘Home Education’ Series)

Make an effort to be fully present during school time.

Teaching Tip:

Make an effort to be fully present during school time.

During school time with my kiddos, I am often reminded how important it is for me to be “fully present.” If I don’t make a conscious effort to focus on my kids, I can easily be distracted. The telephone, computer, people at the door, cooking tasks, laundry, texting, errands, or a million tasks can divide my attention. When I am doing all these tasks while schooling, my boys are continually waiting on me. This means their school day (and mine) drags on longer than it should!

Try to minimize interruptions and limit outside tasks during school time.

So, I am reminded anew to try to minimize interruptions and limit my tasks to a time when I am not teaching. Depending on the ages of your students, you can do this in several ways.

For younger students, try alternating school time with breaks.

If your students are young, you can alternate a half hour of school with a half hour break. Simply continue this alternating pattern until the school subjects are done for the day. This pattern alternates chunks of school time with chunks of free time. We followed this plan for years when our boys were young, so we know it works. Just be sure to return to school after each half hour break!

For older students, try focused teaching hours.

If your students are older, and their school day is longer, you can focus your teaching time during certain hours. At our house, we typically teach from 9 A.M. – 1 P.M. With this plan, the kiddos often have school left in the afternoon, but my formal teaching is done by 1 PM. I simply schedule more independent subjects for my boys to complete after 1:00 PM.

The last few years, our older boys have done several school subjects in the evening to “get ahead.” They always do independent subjects that would typically be done after lunch the next day. Working ahead helps them finish by 1:00 PM the next day, which they prefer. Doing several subjects in the evening is another option to help your children get done earlier.

Or, try a scheduled mid-day break before returning to school.

One other scenario we tried in the past was to take a scheduled mid-day break. One year we took a scheduled break from 1:00-3:30 PM. This allowed me to deal with many things that needed my attention before it got too late in the day. We then returned to school from 3:30-5:30 PM. This was a plan that worked for a year, but I must admit it was hard to return to school at 3:30!

It is amazing what can be accomplished in a short time if you are fully present.

I am amazed what I can get done in a very short time with my boys if I am “fully present.” While this is not always possible, I encourage you to see with a new light any time stealers that really can wait. Strive to be mentally and physically present as much as possible during school time. If emergencies and situations that need to be dealt with occur, return to the pattern of being fully present as soon as possible. I am trying to focus on being fully present and am finding new joy in the time I do have with my boys!


No educational work can rise above the thought and purpose behind it

A Charlotte Mason Moment:

“The future of education both in England and overseas is vague and depressing. We hear various urgent pleas––science should be the focus of education, we need to reform the way we teach foreign language or math, we should incorporate more crafts and nature study to train the eye and hand, students need to learn how to write English and must therefore be familiar with history and literature. And on the other hand, we’re being pressured to make education more vocational and utilitarian. But there’s no coherent principle, no real aim. There’s no philosophy of education. A stream can’t rise any higher than the lake it flows from. In the same way, no educational work can rise above the thought and purpose behind it. Maybe this is the reason for all the failures and disappointments of our educational system.”

(Home Education by Charlotte M. Vol. 3; Preface to the ‘Home Education’ Series)