You may be looking at the Form I programme in shock, thinking “how on earth am I supposed to do all this?”
There are few points that should be made:
- A term was done over 12 weeks. You don’t do the entire program in a month.
- Mornings were for academics, while afternoons were for singing, music, nature study, drawing, etc.
- Households enrolled in the PNEU were expected to work for 6 days per week, or to trim content (history in particular) if only working 5 days per week.
- Not everything was done every day.
- A schedule.
In Home Education on pgs 45-46, Miss Mason writes, “Then, there is much to be got by perching in a tree or nestling in heather, but muscular development comes of more active ways, and an hour or two should be spent in vigorous play; and last, and truly least, a lesson or two must be got in.” [emphasis ours]
Do not be upset if you don’t get everything in for these young ones. Outside time spent in play and observation is more important at this age, and if the others slip in order to spend the 4, 5, or 6 hours outside that is recommended, then so be it.
However, there are also ways to make use of your time to incorporate the richness of a Charlotte Mason education into your busy life.
- For the Form IB songs, take 10 minutes mid-morning for a singing break. The action songs and nursery rhymes we’ve suggested are perfect for this.
- For Form IA, practice the new songs while getting breakfast on the table, at lunchtime, and in the afternoons. Sing while doing chores together.
- Sing throughout your day. Sing while getting the kids dressed, while setting table, while hanging laundry. Sing in the car and while doing dishes.
- Listen to the selections from the Composer selections in the same way. If you have the capability, cast YouTube videos of the Children’s Classics in IB to your TV. If not, try to play them on the computer at least once. Make a YouTube or Amazon Prime Music playlist or transfer selections to an mp3 player or CD to be played as background music.
- Set aside specific time during a weekday afternoon for a focused drawing lesson, and then incorporate those lessons throughout the week while doing nature journaling, or general drawing. Keep a nature journal yourself, and have a drawing pad handy so your children can see you drawing. Model what you want your children to do.
- Instead of watching TV or retreating to the computer at night, work on handwork. Sew, knit, and crochet in sight of your children. Or work on projects during commercials.
- Do crafts on rainy days, or days when it’s too cold (winter in the north) or too hot (summer in the south) to be outside.
- Read fairy tales and folk tales as bedtime stories or while waiting during errands.
- Teach practical geography naturally.
- Read poetry (recitations) during snack times, lunch, and in the evenings. Work on memorizing favorite poetry at these same times.
In geography, we suggest “Tell children of 6 places mother and father have visited” the same as the PNEU programmes did. But what if you haven’t traveled? Since the PNEU programmes were meant for families of all economic stations, we cannot imagine that all PNEU families in the Edwardian era were world travelers. So how did they handle it? Places that mother and father have visited does not need to mean far-off lands. It might be a trip to the nearby countryside, it might be Uncle Ray’s farm as a child, or Grandma’s house before she moved. Maybe it was even a school field trip to the local dairy, or simply what your town looked like 15 years ago before the subdivisions came in. We think the purpose of this exercise is for parents to tell their children stories of where they’ve been, to let children know that there is more to this world than the very small part they have experienced.
Below is an example of how a week might be scheduled in PNEU households, and an analysis of the timetables. Both of these are from A Liberal Education for All, an interesting read available at archive.org here.
Another method that some families use is a Loop Schedule. They might do the academics consistently, but then loop through the others, not doing them on a certain day of the week but simply going down their list until they quit for the day, then picking up where they left off the next day.