I was talking with a friend this week about short lessons. It's funny, because we all have been influenced by the style of education to which we were exposed as children. It sometimes seems wrong to spend just so much time having fun, whilst learning, when you know that so many other children of similar ages are having to spend many hours per day in a classroom or group environment. But the truth is, short lessons are effective, enjoyable and enough! Charlotte Mason was an educationalist who believed that lessons should be kept short and to the point. Not only are they sufficient because you can focus entirely on the child or small group of children that you are home educating, but also, you teach the child the discipline of full concentration and attention, rather than day-dreaming and dawdling.
The blog post I referred to above concludes with the blogger's examples of her short-lessons that take place during the day. My list might look like this:
1) Bible (10 minutes)
2) Singing/ prayer (5 minutes)
3) Reading (20 minutes)
4) Drawing/ painting (20 minutes)
5) Writing letters/ letter forms (5 minutes)
6) A game such as snap or a jigsaw (10-15 minutes)
7) Music (putting on a CD and getting out our box of instruments) (20 minutes)
8) Watering the garden (10 minutes)
9) Baking/ cooking (15 minutes)
And in between these, allowing time to set up/ tidy up and for a short break - free play, with cars/ toys/ looking at picture books/ playing in the garden etc
Then... nature studies in the park - many 1 minute lessons amongst two hours of walking/ playing/ climbing. Physical education - races/climbing/ jumping/ hopping etc - many short lessons whilst out and about. Several afternoons per week we will do some kind of 'field trip' - a National Trust property, a museum or art gallery, maybe the library or even a shopping expedition. All of these bring many of their own lessons too.
When you think about your daily routine, you probably see many different 'lessons' that fall into short time-spans, so natural within the course of your day that you barely consider them lessons at all. That is another joy of home education, that learning becomes a life-long adventure, and doesn't have a clear beginning and end. Most days I try to keep a short note of our day, perhaps a little like the one above. I do this for several reasons:
1) A record for me of what we have done
2) A type of handover - my husband and I both work part-time and home educate part-time, so it is good to know what the other half has done
3) Enough of a record that I can show evidence that I am appropriately educating our children should anybody ever ask
4) For my own reassurance; that we are indeed providing a diverse and stimulating education, and are not neglecting any of the key areas
Take some time and reflect on what you are doing, and I think you will be surprised and encouraged at just how much can be covered in a short period of time when we choose to educate our children at home!
- I am a Christian mother of five, and our highest goal as a family is to serve God in every aspect of our lives. Jesus promised His disciples 'life in all its abundance' (John 10:10) - that has been our story, a rich life, not devoid of challenges, but certainly abundant. Previously writing at www.homeeducationnovice.blogspot.com, we have come to realise that education is just one area where our faith shapes our choices and direction in life. This blog seeks to share our adventure.