Lately I’ve been feeling like our schedule is a bit too full. And after reading this post on my friend Suji’s site, I really began to crave more relaxed, less jam-packed days. When others talked about their days, and they only covered 3 or 4 subjects, I’d always think, ‘they’re missing out on so much.’ Now I realise how wrong I was. It’s we who are missing out on everything. Well, not everything, but a lot. We’re not taking enough time to savour things; it’s bam-bam, bam, got to get it done before lunch, now you can go play.
When we began first grade, we were only doing a few subjects and we really took our time, really enjoyed them, and truly absorbed what we were doing. Gradually I began adding subjects and gradually things just got out of control. I then switched to a more Charlotte Mason approach, but that didn’t really solve our problems. I cut out 2 things and added about 5.
Here’s a list of all the subjects we cover in a week:
Grammar 3-4x (First Language Lessons 2-3x, Mad Libs 1x)
Natural History 3-4x
World History 2-3x
British History 1x
Writing 5x (Writing with Ease 4x, Games for Writing or pen pal letter 1x)
Picture/Artist Study 2x
Music 1x (we listen to music everyday, study music once a week)
Poetry when we can fit it in
Handicrafts when we can fit it in
Our lessons are short, but I’ve realised that’s not working for certain subjects like natural history and art; those areas need digging into, 10-20 minutes just isn’t enough. And I can’t cut back on the number of days we do things for various reasons that I won’t bore you with.
I haven’t come up with a good solution yet. There’s nothing I want to cut out, either because Stiggy loves it (Spanish, [and yes we need 5 days; 3 days just wasn’t enough for him to learn it], Natural History, the arts, Shakespeare) or I feel it’s important (like handwriting, reading, and copywork/narration [a.k.a. writing]). I have changed my lesson plans sheet, though. Instead of using a calendar-like approach, I’ve listed each subject and written below it what I’d like to accomplish for the week. Certain things have to be done daily, then after that we can pick and choose what we want to do that day. It does rather feel like going to an all-you-can-eat-buffet and less like ‘we’ve still got to get through this, this, and this.’ So that’s good.
I’ve also added a few breaks during our day, which has helped some.
I’ve tried spreading things out and doing a few things in the afternoon, but I can’t always do this. Some days we have outings, appointments, other obligations, or Stiggy is just itching to go and play, so this isn’t a workable option every day.
I’d thought about doing certain subjects for half the time, or a quarter of the time, then switching, but in order to do that, we’d have to study them really intensely every day which doesn’t lend itself to much ‘savouring’ and ‘absorbing’ (I like a few days’ marinating after some lessons before moving on), and while we’re not doing those subjects, much of it will be forgotten. so I don’t like that idea, either.
Any ideas? Is it too much? Just right? Do I need to just be patient and let things settle? To be honest, Stiggy is ok with it all and is learning well. It’s me. I have this idea of how our days should go, and the reality just doesn’t quite match up.