Mother: "Why yes, actually you do (insert confident loving motherly voice), but only for 15 minutes!"
I have had this conversation with any one of my children over the course of our home education journey and the answer really is quite that straight forward and simple. Charlotte Mason advocated the method of Short Lessons to maintain the constant teaching of a child's Habit of Attention to his subject matter at hand, AND....so they could have the freedom to LEARN MORE!!!! (Sorry if I was shouting, I get pretty excited about this part).
Charlotte's students studied no less than 13 subjects each week (about 16 different books), and that is in the lower (younger) Forms. By the time a pupil reached Forms III & IV, they were studying up to 21-25 subjects and using around 40 books per term. Wow! That IS a generous (liberal) curriculum! (Note: They also schooled 6 days a week, something I have considered on many a bored and rainy Saturday.)
How did they fit it all in??? What if they sit there for 10 minutes staring at their paper?
Simply put, using Short Lessons! Et voila!
Here's a little bullet list to give you some perspective ~
- Can you pay attention to something for 15 minutes?
- Do you like/do a variety of activities throughout your day that takes concentration?
- If you had a schedule posted, could you stick with it for the allotted time periods?
- Do you find yourself using bribery to get your child to do things, or are they self-motivated?
- Do you have a kitchen timer?
Allright, for fun, let's take each of these bullet points and expand a bit to see if you are ready to give the method of Short Lessons a GO.
Can you pay attention to something for 15 minutes? Hmm, well, if it involves a cup of coffee and the paper...oops, sorry I digress! Really the idea here is to pick a task, set the timer for 15 minutes and go. Hey, wait a minute, is this the Flylady??? Maybe she likes Charlotte Mason's methods too, but I digress again. (What was in that coffee anyway?)
So you've got your timer, you've got your kiddos are all set with a book, or a page of copywork and you let them know that when the timer goes off, they are free to move on to the next thing on the schedule. Now they DO have to perform their work in a tidy and complete manner, even if it's just a few perfect letters or a nicely written sentence or bible verse in cursive. I'm pretty sure they will also really like their sense of accomplishment at a job well done in a very timely manner. Now, set the timer again, and it's off to the next subject...Do you think that could work for you??
Do you like/do a variety of activities throughout your day that take concentration? I think this is a no-brainer as moms we are keen multi-taskers, but here is the clincher, it's imperative that the activity is a one-focus job for the 15 minutes. That means no answering email, while finishing the breakfast dishes and trying to listen to a narration from your 15 year old on the Crusades. Just pick the narration as your fifteen minute focus and you've accomplished two great short lesson birds, you listened while they narrated!
If you had a schedule posted, could you stick with it for the allotted time periods? This is a biggie! Even if the schedule is a loosely jotted subject list on the dry-erase or black board, it's helpful to have things slotted for all to see (especially mom who holds the timer). My kids have always benefitted from a schedule and tend to wander willy-nilly when I haven't made a plan. They are just used to it and thrive on knowing what is next. That doesn't mean they don't concentrate on the hear and now, because they know that the method dictates that they only focus for a certain small amount of time. In the earlier grades 10-20 minutes is sufficient. Getting to the junior high and highschool years 30-45 minutes constitutes a short lesson.
Do you find yourself using bribery to get you child to do things, or are they self-motivated? Okay, I probably don't need to say anything here, but we all know what we're talking about here right? The self-motivated portion does merit a mention however. If you know that you will have 20 minutes of uninterrupted reading time after you complete a task, are you more likely to whip through it efficiently, or slog through with drudgery? I know my answer, this is really worth pondering in how things are presented to your dear children and how they can learn to motivate themselves and become "life-learners."
Do you have a kitchen timer? Cha-Ching!!! Even the oven timer works! Personally, I really like the classic turn-the-knob-and-hear-it-ticking kind, but even a stop-watch'll do :) Get one, use it, you'll thank me later ;-)
I really hope you'll give Short Lessons a try, it's been a true saving grace in our day-to-day learning adventures! If you are interested in my schedules or would like a "How Does Your Schoolday Look" post in the near future please let me know :) Many blessings!