Inside: A guide to help you plan your homeschool week and lessons using Charlotte Mason’s principles.
The Charlotte Mason feast is a rich and glorious one. But you may take a look at all those subjects and think, How in the world can we fit all that into a week?
Our family uses AmblesideOnline for many of our subjects. When first looking at the booklist and reading schedule, it can be extremely overwhelming. People really do all of this?
In this post, my hope is to help you as you seek to plan each week of your Charlotte Mason homeschool.
How To Plan Your Homeschool Week
I recently recorded a video on this subject, so if you’re more of an auditory and visual learner, you can check that out here:
These are the basic steps I follow when laying out a plan for the homeschool week.
Pre-Step: Start with a Plan for the Year
To make a weekly plan, you have to start with a big picture plan for the year. This post is assuming that you already have one of those.
For those who use Ambleside Online like we do, you can find a yearly schedule for all of your child’s readings on their website. Select the year your child is in, click on schedule, and you can choose between downloading in PDF, DOC, or ODT formats. I use the PDF.
For each of my children, I printed these schedules, cut the top off of the second page for each term, and taped it to the bottom of the first page for that term. This gave me long schedules that show everything for their entire term like this:
As you can see, our schedules have been well-loved and heavily used.
It was easier for me to visualize what needed preparing when I could see the entire term all at once.
Your yearly plan doesn’t have to look like mine. You just need yours before getting started.
What You’ll Need:
- Your plan for the year
- A sweet and simple planner that works for you (I use A Simple Plan)
- Highlighters, if you’re like me
- A pen and pencil
- A notebook or paper to write down your child’s independent work (You can find our Daily Work sheets in the free resource library. To get the password, join our email list.)
1) What’s Your Weekly Flow?
Our weekly flow is our basic guideline that we follow each week. For example, I plan in blocks to make sure that I can be flexible based on the day. What I mean by that is I have a block for our family lessons that we do together, a block for each of my children’s lessons that they do with me, and a block for the lessons that only my older two children do with me.
Each child also knows that when they aren’t working with me, they each have independent work and chores to get done before they have their free time.
When thinking about weekly flow, it’s also important to know about how many times per week you want to do each subject. For some subjects like composer, picture study, and brushdrawing, we always do one day per week. other subjects like math are done daily. And then there are subjects like history that may fluctuate depending on how much reading that particular child has for the week.
But it’s good to have a basic idea of what your week looks like so that you can easily plug in readings and activities as you sit down to make your weekly plan.
2) Is this Week Different In Some Way?
I then take a moment to look at any appointments, field trips, or anything else that may make this week look a little different. If we have something, I make not of it at the top of that day in my lesson book so that I remember to schedule around it.
3) What Goals Were Missed Last WeeK?
During certain weeks, there may not be enough time to finish everything you had wanted to accomplish. So it’s important to first look at what was missed from the previous week as you sit down to plan the new one. Sometimes, my children may need to finish the end of a chapter before moving on to this week’s reading. So Monday may end up being a day to catch up.
Other times, a chapter or story is spread over the course of a couple weeks. In that case, I’ve already divided the story into parts (I’ll cover how I do this in a moment), but I need to plug those in on this week’s schedule.
In my planner, I make sure to always note which part of a chapter or story we’re reading that day and how many parts there are total to keep myself straight. For example, if we’re reading the third part of my son’s Marco Polo chapter, I’ll write something like:
Geog: Marco Polo Ch. 11 (3/4).
The 3/4 at the end reminds me that this is the third reading out of four total in that chapter.
4) What are the goals for this week?
After writing in whatever was left over from the previous week, I take a look at our reading and activity goals for the week at hand.
With the printed PDF schedules from Ambleside, it’s easy to just scan down the column and pay attention to what books and chapters are being focused on for the coming week. Certain readings are simple to schedule. For example, Arwyn’s Aesop’s Fables readings are always short. Each story is read in one sitting. Since I know thats the case, I quickly drop those in on days that make sense.
5) How many Pages are our Readings?
Some readings aren’t as short and simple as those from Aesop. For longer chapters, such as those found in This Country of Ours, I count the pages to determine how we want to split the reading. Alijah is usually good with 7-9 pages worth of reading per sitting for TCOO. So if a chapter has 29 pages, I know that we’ll need to have 4 readings that week.
I scan the chapter and look for good stopping places, right about at that 7 page increment mark. Sometimes a good stopping place is one where part of the story is wrapped up and we’re getting ready to embark on the next part of the journey. Sometimes it’s fun to leave things on a cliff-hanger instead (even though those may induce shouts from your children).
6) Piecing the Puzzle
Finally, with all of this ready, I begin to plug readings into the schedule.
Things to keep in mind
- It’s fun to make sure that no to days are the same. With the feast of subjects, that’s usually a pretty simple task.
- Within each day, I try to alternate heavy and light subjects. This is one thing that Charlotte Mason recommended and we have found helpful in our homeschool. What I mean is that after a history lesson, I won’t go straight into a natural history reading. Instead, we may take a break by doing some math. Then we’ll read a poem. Then we can finish with their Burgess Animal reading for natural history.
- Lessons should be fairly short. We keep this in mind when deciding how to split readings and how much math to cover for a day. For most elementary subjects, 15 minutes is enough. For first grade literature, I wouldn’t even read that long. A reading may be about 7 or 8 minutes, followed by a narration. And that’s the end of that lesson.
7) Independent Work
While I’m working with one child, other children have some independent work to do before they can go about the rest of their day.
I make sure that each child knows what they are expected to accomplish for the day by writing it on a Daily Work sheet. Those are available for download in the free resource library. Sign up for my emails to get the password.
You can also write it down in a notebook (like I started doing when our printer went on the fritz). I block out a section for each day of the week and then make bullet points that they can check off as they complete their work.
Independent subjects include:
- Personal Devotions and Scripture Reading
- Memorization (this year they focused on US States, Scripture Memory, Recitation Poems and Books of the Bible)
- Handwriting and Copywork
- Piano or other instruments
As children get older, they can also do some of their other subjects alone. For example, my fourth grader does much of his literature on his own and then records, writes, or types his narration for the day. I’ve also had him do Biography or Natural History on his own if a week is particularly full.
This may sound like a lot to take in. Overall, planning your homeschool is about finding what’s intuitive and makes sense for your family. I just share to help anyone who may need it, but you don’t have to follow my process.
Whatever you choose to do, it has to make sense for you and get the job done. That’s what’s important!
Until next time,
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