LEARN THE FREQUENCY AND DURATION OF EARLY ELEMENTARY SUBJECTS  IN A CHARLOTTE MASON EDUCATION, AND UPDATE FOR MODERN LIFE!

Have you looked at the time tables but are having trouble translating it to our modern world?  Does it all look like a bunch of random subjects?  What do you do if you don't want to do school six days a week?

Let's break down the timetable into manageable pieces and figure out how to bring it to our modern life.

We'll start with the originals.  They can be found in A Liberal Education for All at this link.  We are only going to talk about Form I (approximate ages 6-9) in this post; older forms will be covered in future posts.

To start, for ease of use, I've transcribed Form I into this table:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

N.B. -- No "Home Work."  "Narration" (Oral) at the end of each lesson.  Form Upper I.A., an occasional written narration.

General overview

The first thing you might notice is that the increments are 10, 15, and 20 minutes.   No lessons for these early elementary years are over 20 minutes.

The second thing you might notice is that there is a specific time for each subject.  In other words, we don't "do math" for 20 minutes.  We "do math" from 10:00-10:20.  Practically speaking, that means that if your child is taking a long time to do his work, you don't do "what should take you 20 minutes if you would just focus."  When 10:20 comes around, you stop math for the day.

It also means that if the baby has a poop explosion in the middle of your reading lesson and it takes 45 minutes to clean everything up, you check your timetable for where you would be when you're ready to start lessons again, not pick up where you left off so that you're still doing lessons at 3 PM.

Let's go through the time table a few subjects at a time, breaking it down to easily manageable chunks.

Bible and Geography

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Old Testament and New Testament were alternated, doing each 2x per week for 20 minutes.  Notice how in general, spiritual instruction started off the day.

Geography was two times per week for 20 minutes each.


Bible:  4x per week @20 min per session

Geography: 2x per week @20 min per session

Math and Reading

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Number was what Math was called in this Form.  Like Reading, it was done every day, but the duration varied.  For 4 days it was a 20 minute session, one day was 10 minutes, and then Saturday was 20 minutes.  Also note how the time slot changed throughout the week.  Variety is key at this age.

Reading was also daily, with a little bit of a twist.  Saturday had a regular lesson, but for the IB students (first year, approx age 6-7), there was an extra lesson that day.  Note also how it wasn't back-to-back; there is an hour and a half between those two lessons with a singing and movement break in-between, and the second Saturday session was only 10 minutes.

Math:  4x per week @20 min each, 1x per week @10 min, plus a 20 min Saturday session

Reading:  2x per week @10 min each, 3x per week @ 20 min each, plus a 10 min Saturday session and for Form IB (6-7 yo) an extra 20 min Saturday session on top of that.

History and Repetition

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

History only shows up here once or twice.  One time per week for 20 minutes, then an additional Saturday session for the Form IA (approx ages 7-9) students for 20 minutes. 

Do you see that?  History is only once per week.  Twice per week MAX.   When many people think of Charlotte Mason education, they think it's heavy on history, but this shows that it's not. Geography is done more often than history in these early years!

Next we'll look at Repetition.   As you can see, it was done four times per week for only 10 minutes, and the material was varied.  In the PNEU programmes (the term curricula sent out to Charlotte Mason's homeschools and member schools), each term usually had 1-2 hymns, a Psalm, a poem of the child's choice, a passage from the Old Testament and one from the Gospels to learn.

History:  Form IB - 1x per week @20 min

                   Form IA - 1x per week @20 min, plus a 20 min Saturday session

Repetition:  4x per week @ 10 min each

Natural History and French

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Natural History (science): 2x at 20 min each

French: 3x @ 10 min each, plus a 10 min Saturday session and 15 min of singing French songs

Handicraft and Tales

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Handicrafts: 2x per week for 10 min each, 2x per week for 20 min each, plus a Saturday session of 20 minutes

Tales: 2x per week for 20 min each.  In Form IB, there weren't enough Tales scheduled to fill these two slots every day (3 fairy tales and 3 Aesop's fables per term).  What I do is use that extra time to retell the fairy tale, to let them really sink in to my child.


Writing and Picture Study

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Picture Study:  1x per week for 10 min

Writing: 5x per week for 10 min each, plus Saturday session of 10 min

Drawing, Brush-drawing, and Week's Work

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

Week's Work: 1 Saturday session of 20 minutes.  What is Week's Work?  My best supposition is that it covered the material in the PNEU programmes labeled "Work".  That is, helping in house and garden, as well as creating things.  Since we have 5 slots for Handicrafts, my assumption is that this is deliberate instruction in "help in house and garden".

Drawing: 1x per week for 10 min

Brush-drawing: 1x per week for 10 min, plus a 10 min Saturday session

I want you to note where these drawing times are in the table.  They are all towards the very end of the lesson day when attention is flagging.  A little art break, particularly after 20 min of math when math is near the end of the lesson period.  After these drawing and painting sessions there is only a single ten minute session left in the school day.

Drill, Sol-fa, Play, Dancing

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

Week's Work

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

A History

B Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

Writing

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

French

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill

Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

Number

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Reading

This is a more difficult set to analyze for the simple reason that so much of it is "or".  Play OR drill.  Dancing OR play.   All of these are also the only ones that are 15 minutes instead of 10 or 20 minute lessons.

Drill: 3-5 days per week at 15 min each, with an additional Saturday session

Sol-fa or singing, including French songs: 2x per week @15 min each, plus Saturday for 15 min

Play: Daily for 15 minutes, as an option.

Dancing: 3 times a week for 15 minutes as another option

One thing I really want you to pay attention to here:  Dancing, play, drill or singing constituted a 30 minute movement break in the middle of every school day.

Each subject easily identifiable:

Bible:  4x per week @20 min per session

Geography: 2x per week @20 min per session

Math:  4x per week @20 min each, 1x per week @10 min, plus a 20 min Saturday session

Reading:  2x per week @10 min each, 3x per week @ 20 min each, plus a 10 min Saturday session and for Form IB (6-7 yo) an extra 20 min Saturday session

History:  Form IB - 1x per week @20 min

                   Form IA - 1x per week @20 min, plus a 20 min Saturday session

Repetition:  4x per week @ 10 min each

Natural History (science): 2x at 20 min each

French: 3x @ 10 min each, plus a 10 min Saturday session and 15 min of singing French songs

Handicrafts: 2x per week for 10 min each, 2x per week for 20 min each, plus a Saturday session of 20 minutes

Tales: 2x per week for 20 min each.

Picture Study:  1x per week for 10 min

Writing: 5x per week for 10 min each, plus Saturday session of 10 min

Drawing: 1x per week for 10 min

Week's Work: 1 Saturday session of 20 minutes

Brush-drawing: 1x per week for 10 min, plus a 10 min Saturday session

Drill: 3-5 days per week at 15 min each, with an additional Saturday session

Sol-fa or singing, including French songs: 2x per week @15 min each, plus Saturday for 15 min

Play: Daily for 15 minutes, as an option.

Dancing: 3 times a week for 15 minutes as another option

Important observations

A few important observations I'd like to make about the timetables:

Movement and play

There is a full half hour movement and play break every day a little more than halfway through the lessons.  After an hour and 40 minutes, the kids have a 30 minute movement/singing/play break, then come back to another 40 minutes of lessons.  Immediately after the play break they have a longer lesson of 20 minutes, then the last two lessons of the day are both short ones at 10 minutes each.  

Saturday School

Not everyone did Saturday school, and if you notice what was scheduled for Saturdays, it's nothing that can't be cut out.  An extra session of reading, writing, and arithmetic, French, handicrafts, art.  Help in house and garden.

So easy to just chop off that day and not even miss it!

Handicrafts

Four to five times per week!  This is more than Geography, more than History, more than Natural History.

If you want to make a hierarchy of importance based on frequency and length of time, it would go like this

Math --> Reading --> Writing --> Bible --> Handicrafts --> Everything else

Handicrafts aren't something to be tacked on when we get around to it.  It should be an integral part of our Charlotte Mason life!

Specific lesson times

Notice also that there are specific times for lessons.  Not "10 min: reading" but "11:20-11:30: reading".

Why is this important?  Because it's so easy to set a timer for 10 minutes of a subject, and then when the timer goes off, swap out the books, run to the bathroom, get set up for the next subject .... then start the timer for the next 10 minutes.  In the meantime, you've lost several minutes of transition.  This can add up to an extra half hour over the course of your day, making lessons drag on much longer than the 2.5 hours we'd like.

Modernizing the timetable

The first thing we'll do is trim this back from 6 days down to 5 days.  Realistically, there are very, very few of us who do lessons 6 days per week.

Now, this Form is really easy to do that with because of the nature of the subjects for Saturday -- they are all things that you just work on "the next thing" without an assigned number of pages per term to get through, other than a slot of History for Form IA (approx ages 7-9).

We can just cut Saturday right off and never know it's missing.  That extra day of History for Form IA?  Don't sweat it.  Really.

If you just can't let go of that 20 minutes of history, then one day a week read from your history book in the evenings or as a bedtime story.  

Do 20 minutes of chores or gardening with your kids over the weekend, and you're golden.

And for the IA students, slide an extra day of Sol-fa in as an option.

That brings us to this:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9:00-9:20

Old Testament

New Testament

History

Old testament

New testament

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition Bible

Repetition Poem

Repetition Bible

Number

Repetition Hymn

9:50-10:00

French

Writing

French

French

Picture Study

10:00-10:20

Number

Handicrafts

Number

Handicrafts

Number

10:20-10:35

Drill

Sol-fa

Drill

French Song

Drill or Sol-fa

10:35-10:50

Dancing or Play

Play or drill

Dancing or Play

Play or Drill

Dancing or Play

10:50-11:10

Tales

Number

Geography

Tales

Natural History

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Modernize the subjects

Let's start swapping out subjects now, shall we?

Bible

We know that Charlotte Mason was Christian, but that doesn't mean that you need to be Christian in order to use her methods.  ​Read this blog post for a more in-depth look at my thoughts on this.

What could those of us who don't want to use the Bible -- or use it so often -- do in the Bible slots?  

  • Your own religious instruction
  • Your own spiritual instruction
  • Moral training
  • world religions
  • stories about your ancestors
  • anything that ties in with your own spiritual path

Repetition

Rather than Repetition Bible, Poem, and Hymn, instead just keep this a repetition slot of poetry, songs you find inspirational, inspirational speech excerpts or motivational sayings.  You'll want to keep these age-appropriate, so for my 7 year old we are doing poetry memorization for about 5 minutes and then reading poetry the other 5 minutes.

French

Just change to this whatever foreign language you want to study with your children.

Drill

Drill was Swedish Drill and "Drill in Good Manners".  Because this is a movement break, swap out Drill with yoga or another physical activity. 

Or, just give your child a full half-hour break depending on the weather and your child's needs.  For IB (approx age 6-7), we do a half-hour play break every day at this time.  It also gives Mama a rest!

New Time Table for today

After we chop off Saturday and swap out the subjects to modernize it, this is what we end up with:

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

9:00-9:20

Spiritual or moral instruction

Spiritual or moral instruction

History

Spiritual or moral instruction

Spiritual or moral instruction

9:20-9:40

Geography

Natural History

Reading

Reading

Reading

9:40-9:50

Repetition 

Repetition 

Repetition 

Math

Repetition 

9:50-10:00

Foreign Language

Writing

Foreign Language

Foreign Language

Picture Study

10:00-10:20

Math

Handicrafts

Math

Handicrafts

Math

10:20-10:35

Movement or play

Sol-fa (singing instruction)

Movement or Play

Foreign Language Song

Sol-fa or Movement

10:35-10:50

Movement or Play

Movement or Play

Movement or Play

Movement or Play

Movement or Play

10:50-11:10

Tales

Math

Geography

Tales

Natural History

11:10-11:20

Writing

Drawing

Handicrafts

Brush-Drawing

Handicrafts

11:20-11:30

Reading

Reading

Writing

Writing

Writing

Spiritual or moral instruction:  4x per week @20 min per session

Geography: 2x per week @20 min per session

Math:  4x per week @20 min each, 1x per week @10 min

Reading:  2x per week @10 min each, 3x per week @ 20 min each

History:   1x per week @20 min

                   Form IA - optional 1x per week evening session of 20 minutes

Repetition:  4x per week @ 10 min each

Natural History (science): 2x at 20 min each

Foreign language: 3x @ 10 min each, plus  15 min of singing French songs

Handicrafts: 2x per week for 10 min each, 2x per week for 20 min each

Tales: 2x per week for 20 min each.

Picture Study:  1x per week for 10 min

Writing: 5x per week for 10 min each

Drawing: 1x per week for 10 min

Week's Work:  help in house or garden on the weekend

Brush-drawing: 1x per week for 10 min

Movement: 3-5 days per week at 15-30 min each

Sol-fa or singing, including French songs: 2x per week @15 min each

Play: Daily for 15 minutes, as an option

There should be a half hour movement/play/singing break a little more than midway through the day.

By dropping Saturday and modernizing the subjects, you can make a schedule that will work for you.  Use this as a template to create your own schedule, or use it exactly as written (that's what I do!)

Feel free to play around with it, moving subjects around for what works for your family.  Give it at least two weeks before tweaking though, to give yourself time to get into a new routine.

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Marjorie