ambleside curriculum, charlotte mason, planning

Internalizing Rhythms and Schedules

At my last post on schedules, Karen and I were conversing about all this, and I wrote:

I try to balance education in the full scope of our life, not just thinking of lessons, and that

our family rhythm gets more internalized each year,

and she asked me if I could expand on this, which I’d love to.
What do I mean by internalizing our schedule more every year?
Before my girls were born, I found Charlotte Mason and her ideas, and even though I started with a less clear notion of the method and curriculum we wanted to pursue, I always tried to devise a schedule based on this Charlotte Mason based education.
I also found Ambleside Online since before my girls were of school age. Through many trials and errors, we are coming, every day, to what my husband and I see as our valued way of, not only “teaching” subjects and content, but of living our life.
Going back to my oldest Kindergarten year, called year 0 at Ambleside Online, I remember my anticipation and self righteousness for that year. Far from revisiting Volume 1 of Charlotte Mason, I was more looking at year 1, because of the BOOKS. To me, it was all in the books. Yeah, I knew about composer/artist/nature study, I had heard about handicrafts, and masterly inactivity, and working on habits… but I was just blinded by the books.
As a result, my scheduled looked a cross between a very formal school cut Kindergarten with some CM flair, and a college syllabus. The grandiose dreams I had about “adding”, and “complementing”! Sigh. Life brought me to my knees, and I met Stephanie and her Charlotte Mason Made Easy course, and not only did I take it, but I translated it. And I came to year 1. By this time, my oldest became a bit more familiar with some practices such as narration, working on math regularly, etc. But our days and lessons, though I always gathered the strength and courage to get at them once more, were not exactly smooth. But, my girl was making progress (reading, adding, etc.), and there were some moments of great joy while making connections, and I was starting to fall in love with some of the books, so, the year was alright. Winnie the Pooh healed many of our wounds that year, 🙂

Year two was also our year of traveling to Europe. Our schedule was still not very “our own”, other than the readings and those known as “extras”, which are not really extras, but the pillar of a liberal education (poetry, hymns, folk songs, music and art appreciation, NATURE STUDY…) This year was uneven. I was able to put check marks by the AO y2 scheduled readings, have nice family time moments, and call it a day. I had a critical moment, I felt a mix of disappointing on my non perfect or ideal student, and at other times I simply felt quite a monster myself for seeing things like this, and for maybe being more devoted to giving advice, than to taking it myself.



Then year 3 hit. And my amazing and generous oldest daughter, showed passion and interest for her studies (not to confuse with every day an easy and smooth day, lol). I also had her sister as a year 1 student, and what I thought a difficult to balance year, proved to be much easier and joyful I ever dreamed. From my pushy first 2 years with my oldest, MEP math had become impossible. In year 2 we used Life of Fred, and by mid year 3, I placed my daughters on MEP, years 1 and 2. It was so much better. We finally enjoyed Parables from Nature and Pilgrims Progress, and we started to treat those extras more seriously. Thanks to wonderful friends, we got closer to music, and I started an already begun gradual transformation. I was the first one internalizing components of their education that were now part of my own education as well. I became more diligent and reflective of my reading choices, and I gave more thought to that education is an atmosphere CM’s motto or belief. It all soaked in me, I changed so that my home took some of my new self, and the girls inspired their own changes too. They came up with more pronounced interests, delights, favorite disciplines, and they did not resent their lesson hours, which, in some cases, started to blur into just our life. We listened to good music at any given time and place, if we had means to do so, we would sing the songs we listened to anywhere.

My girls now both knew the CM jargon, lol, narrating, copy work, history, biography, nature study… and my y1 student remembered much of her sister’s year 1, my year 3 student looked with much more appreciation and respect to her sister’s books… By then I already knew how to get the readings, and make up a weekly schedule that was for y3, very similar to y2, and y1, only with an increase in the number of pages and books, not exorbitant from y2 to y3 either. This year I tried to get better at whatever I knew I wanted for all of us, and at that which we had not been very successful before.

In the present, we have completed “week 14 of years 4 and 2”, and this year our schedule is as engrained and engraved in our systems as ever before. We are far from doing everything at top notch mastery, but that is not the goal… the goal is to do the best year one can do, where my girls work at walking down the path through self education, a day at a time! And without having this written in any plans, they now know I will be reading in the car for an hour or more every Sunday, that in the evenings we study the Scriptures as a family, that we will read aloud every day, by themselves, and I to them, that every week we go to a nature study with a local group of like-minded families; they know we look at a painting every week, and we listen to good music; they know every normal day morning we read poetry and sometimes Shakespeare at breakfast, that they have certain books each term (this is a period of 12 weeks plus 1 week for exams), and my year 4 daughter soon understood what was added to her year since she is in the second form (years 4 thru 6). We have started our new components for year 4, meeting my daughter where she is, with the intention to take her as far as she can go. And, after all, those new components are normal extensions of former practices (such as written narration after oral narration, dictation after only copyright, Plutarch and real Shakespeare as the next hardy bones in her second form, or upper elementary, Latin and grammar -which we do orally and together-, and I don’t think I left anything out.

I study Charlotte Mason myself, her principles, and how they apply to curriculum, and accordingly, I make them part of my life, and not just “content” to be thrown at during lessons. Oh, I almost forgot how, specially I, have added many note books such as a common place book, book of centuries, book to write about books, etc, thanks to The Living Page… see? My self education makes me more able to understand what it is to live with these goals in mind, and thus I learn to make things mine and inspire and guide my daughters.

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