Friday, May 8, 2009

Short Lessons

One of the key distinguishing features in the CM approach to education is her focus on short lessons. We cover a lot of subjects each week, but each subject is given 5-20 minutes each. For instance, poetry and copywork only take 5 minutes/day. For math, I set the timer for 15-20 minutes, depending on the topic and we stop whether a page is completed or not. Literature is the one subject where we may spend more time. We listen to audio CDs in the car, or we snuggle on the couch while I read a story we all love. But if possible, I always always stop with a cliffhanger. Better to have them begging for more than asking me to stop!

The purpose of short lessons is to develop the habit of attention. They learn to give full and focused attention to a task because there is no time to dawdle. Although the children very much enjoy what they are learning, it is a challenging education. Challenging, because of the material presented, not because they are made to sit for an hour of it. Short lessons has given my children a love of learning. It isn't drudgery and it is never boring. And it's so impressive the amount of detail they can retain when I only read for 10 minutes.


melissa said...

Thank you for posting these Charlotte Mason posts. I am enjoying reading them and being reminded of things I easily forget.

Ransomed~Redeemed said...

what math curriculum do you use? I'm using singapore and have just attended a (charlotte mason based ) Carol Joyce Seid seminar where she mentioend the same, SHORT lessons. This seems hard as my boys stall in math so they can very well spend the whole 5-10 minutes just stalling! What do you sugget? my boys are both almost 8, not really excited about math. ( or reading for that matter though they love being read too. Any ideas? All I've done from amblesdie so far is just read the books recommended. This was of course after spending nearly $800 on Sonlights curriculum. sigh. Thanks, Alida w4

Ginger said...


Do a search on my blog. I have just recently blogged about our math and Carole Joy Seid! :D Very cool!
Re: your math issue, set the timer for 10 min and tell the boys: If you finish the page (or half the page, whatever is realistic), you may [go outside, play for 10 minutes, read for 10 min, whatever they enjoy]. If they haven't finished it, they don't get that reward.
Bottom line: they need to learn to attend and focus on the task. If you give unlimited time to complete their assignment, they won't learn this. Charlotte Mason was smart, I tell ya!
You can sell all that Sonlight for a good price on eBay. Don't feel guilty about it; sell it!