I thought it might be fun to share what a typical day looks like for our family as we pursue a Charlotte Mason Education. I love hearing about how other families make Miss Mason’s philosophy work in real life and hope this post will be an encouragement to you.
Our family is comprised of: 10 year old son, Form 2A, ; 8 year old daughter, Form 1A, 6 year old son, Form 1B, 3 year old son, 16 month old son.
I had a late start this morning, waking up around 6:00 AM but managed to make my way to the treadmill quickly to fit in a 5 mile run. By 6:30 I was joined by the 3 year old who enjoys watching me exercise.
After showering, it was breakfast time. Breakfast is sort of a nebulous time in our home. Children wake up at different times, do their morning chores (or not) in various orders, and I run around trying to make myself coffee and getting little ones dressed and fed. My approach towards breakfast and lunch is to allow my older children to prepare their own meals while I prepare the meals for the younger two children and myself. So breakfast was comprised of scrambled eggs for a few of us, Cherrios for 2 more, a few left over muffins were also eaten and I am pretty sure the 3 year old refused to eat breakfast.
We were finally ready to start lessons around 8:50. My goal is to start by 8:30 but we usually start closer to 9:00. Today we started with the 6 year old’s reading lesson. I have been reworking a bit of the schedule lately so the 6 year old can have his reading lesson first, even before we do our Bible time. He has done much better with his reading lessons if I get him fresh for that subject. He just started reading lessons about 12 weeks ago at the very beginning of learning the names and sounds of the letters. I have been amazed at how much progress he has made with only 10 minute daily lessons. Today we worked on reading the words in the story “The Little Red Hen.” When we started this story, I made notecards out of all the words in the story to be utilized in various ways. Sometimes I hand him the appropriate words and have him build a sentence with the words (laying the foundations for dictation). But today I just had him read all the words he could for me. I was amazed. He has really learned the majority of them. I didn’t think he could read them out of the order of the sentence, but I guess he can! By the time we worked through all of those and taught him the new word “thresh” we were out of time.
Then we moved on to one of my favorite times of the day, our 15 minute Bible and poetry lesson. We often light a candle to signify the beginning of our lessons while we sing the Doxology. It seems to help calm the children down and center their energy (sometimes). Then we move straight from that to a short prayer and then our Bible reading. Today we read about 6 verses from the book of Matthew and had each child narrate to the best of their ability. I have also been reading the morning devotion from Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening devotional, which is more advanced than most of my children can grasp. I am reading it mainly for myself, but also for my oldest son. It is full of such beautiful truth and language that I am sure we are all benefiting from hearing it together. We immediately moved to reciting our theme verses for the year (1 Cor 16:14, and Ps. 121) followed by Charlotte Mason’s motto, “I am, I can, I ought, I will.” Then we read a selection of poetry by Robert Frost (our poet for this term) followed by a Thanksgiving poem. These are the best 15 minutes of our day!
We then moved to copywork time. We alternate using this time as being dedicated to pure copywork and the learning of cursive. Both of my older students have almost grasped the mechanics of cursive and will be doing all their copywork in cursive soon. For my 6 year old, this time is used to practice the very basic strokes, learning one letter at a time starting with uppercase letters and moving to lowercase letters. He surprised me one day and wrote the word “cat” on his own since we were practicing the letter “a. “Cat” is one of the words in the story from his reading lesson. Since then I have been giving him words to either copy or take as a dictation from his story. We have also moved away from handwriting workbooks and now use lined paper in a composition book. He is thriving on this approach and beams with pride when he draws a letter beautifully. All too soon, another 10 minutes draws to an end.
On today’s schedule our next lesson was folksongs. We have truly enjoyed learning an singing these together. I love hearing these songs pop up in random moments throughout our day. I especially delight in hearing our 3 year old singing them on his own or requesting us to sing them to him.
Next on the agenda was math lessons for the 6 year old, handicraft for the 8 year old (weaving and cleaning her room), and independent work for the 10 year old (Geography and Dictation Study). Today’s math lesson was an introduction to the number 14. He counted out 14 popcicle sticks, we divided them into 2 equal groups and experimented to see if it could be divided other ways as well. He practiced counting up to 14 and down from 14. He discovered all the ways to make 14 out of two numbers. I also did a brief introduction of column addition with popsicle sticks. And finally, he read a series of numbers I had written on the board. He worked hard and concentrated most of the time to make his own discoveries. It was a good lesson.
At the tail end of the lesson we had a fun interruption in the form of 5 American Crows visiting our woods. The children were enamored with them, especially when it was discovered that one of them was eating a dead rodent of some kind. (This incident became a popular choice for their nature journal observation for the day.)
Next up, was the 8 year old’s math lesson while the 6 year old cleaned his room for his handicraft. My daughter has been slowly learning about multiplication. We are currently working on multiplying by 3. I must say, I am thoroughly teaching math in a CM way! It is so gentle, hands on, and respectful of the children as persons. She loves doing math and is now even multiplying 3 and 4 digit numbers by 3 and 2. In the last 2 days we even started simple short division of 2 digit numbers (ex. 48 divided by 2). It is fun to watch her light up with joy as she works these problems.
After this lesson we all enjoy a 15 minute break. This is the time when we all grab a quick snack and play before diving back into our lessons. I usually change a load of laundry or check the mail (just to get out of the house for a minute). Sometimes I manage to squeeze in a few minutes of reading for pleasure, but I am usually busy with a diaper change or playing with one of the younger boys. Today, the youngest needed a nap.
Following break, today we rejoined as a family for picture study, which is another favorite lesson in our home. We all participate in studying our own copies of the artwork for the day and then taking turns narrating what we noticed. We are currently studying Monet and my daughter realized that one of the prints she has in her room looked very similar to the one we studied today (one of his bridge paintings). We were able to observe differences between the two paintings and were inspired to continually paint the same landscape in different ways.
At this point, my 10 year old broke off to do his British History, Grammer, and Recitation lessons. Each week I prepare an assignment sheet for him that breaks down each subject’s assignments for each day. If the assignment required reading, it usually also requires a written narration that he puts in a composition notebook. He also keeps a notebook for Latin. He has grown significantly this year in his ability to follow his own schedule independently and work thoroughly. I try to require 1 written narration a day.
While the 10 year old is working on his own, I work with my Form 1 students. Today we read our literature selection, Sleeping Beauty from the Blue Fairy book, had a Spanish lesson, and read about plants for our natural history lesson. Those were the last 35 minutes of their scheduled day. They each were also required to write an observation in their nature journals and practice piano.
At this point it is noon, our morning lessons are complete, the need for lunch is great, and chaos insues. I usually have 2 subjects left to complete with my Form 2 student. Today we still had Math and Shakespeare remaining. But lunch was calling, so we took a break for lunch. For some reason, it took us about 2 hours to feed 6 people and for me to make a few phone calls.
Finally, by 2:15, we were heading out in our trusty white 12-passenger van, lovingly named”Beluga”, to hit the trails. We enjoyed a beautiful 45 minute walk taking in the sights, observing glacial formations, beaver activity, and even a few buffleheads across the pond. We returned home around 4:00 just in time for our snack and read aloud time. While I prepared the hot water and snacks my children practiced their outdoor fire making skills, much to my dismay. I finally dragged them away from the fire so we could read Heidi for about 15 minutes.
At this point, the natives were wrestles so they were free to play and practice piano while I completed the math lesson with my 10 year old. He is doing great with fractions, learning how to find the least common denominator and adding and subtracting fractions. Once we finished that lesson it was 5:00 and time to finish dinner. Thankfully, I had actually made the dinner last night, so all I had to do was pop it in the oven and make biscuits and a salad. Today, the three year old helped while the 10 year old practiced piano.
Dinner wasn’t served until 6:30 since we were waiting on my husband to come home. Dinner was followed quickly by baths and bedtime for the youngest two. It was now 7:30 and finally time to read Shakespeare with the oldest child. We read, we giggled, we pushed through, and 20 minutes later our school day was finally complete. I tucked the middle child into bed and then spent a few minutes collecting trash, collecting laundry, changing laundry, and folding laundry (laundry is a constant in our life). Then it was bedtime for our 2nd child which meant I finally had the chance to sit down and begin to recap our day for you all and then pre-read the books for tomorrow’s lessons.
The days are full and long. Some days are more exhausting than others depending on the other battles that were fought. What was not documented here were moments I spent training my children in areas of the relationships, obedience, kindness, diligence, tidiness, and so on. These vital moments of our day are somehow woven into the mix of everything else. I am thankful to have this full busy life. I am thankful for being able to live life with my children, even when we are constantly exposed to each other’s warts. I am thankful for the humility it brings, for the dependency on His Spirit that it requires, and for the educational feast we partake of together. I hope you have enjoyed reading about our day!