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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Our Schedule, Our Atmosphere

Mason on atmosphere:
"It is thrown off, as it were, from persons and things, stirred by events, sweetened by love, ventilated, kept in motion, by the regulated action of common sense."  Vol. 6, p. 96
I am writing this post up as I listen to the soothing soundtrack of Little Women.  It keeps my mind calm, even though the girls are running in and out, chirping about parties and rearranging the wicker on the outside porch this Sunday afternoon, one of the last of the summer.  Sigh.

So here is my post about our schedule.  One blog post just cannot fully explain the whole picture, but perhaps a brief discussion of our day might give you some ideas to try.  It is about atmosphere.  And the atmosphere here includes an anticipation and expectation of learning.  Also, each day is different because different things enter each day.  So the graphic is not rigid and flows and flexes as our lives do, according to our family rhythm.
Family Gathering - Liturgy of our Day
A liturgy of sorts.  Here we begin each day with prayer, Bible reading, gratefulness, reflection, and a hymn.  It sets the tone for the day. It is the most important part of our day. We begin at 8 with everyone present.  This time lasts  about 45 minutes, rarely more.  What is done during this time?  In addition to what I already mentioned - poetry, folksong, Shakespeare, family literature read-aloud, Plutarch, geography, architecture, German, Latin, composer study, etc.   (Each of these are not done every day.)
Individual Studies - Books and Things
After the family gathering, I sit with any littles and do reading instruction, read alouds, etc. This time takes about 40 minutes.  The older students look over their schedules and get to work with their copious readings, or begin their math lessons.

Work at Table - Pens and Pencils
Everyone meets up at the table.  Here we work separately together. (!)This may include handwriting, copywork, dictation, and perhaps their Book of Centuries entry.  This is finished around 10:30 each day.  After this time at the table, I finish up any lessons with the littles back on the couch while the olders start afresh on their work.

Masterly Inactivity - Wise Passiveness
I have come to think of this as so important, so influential.  Having graduated two using this method, this "letting alone" time where they waged their wars, built their catapults, wrote their stories, and read their books might just be the key to a successful education.  If the selection of books during the school day supplies them with fresh ideas, they have many activities to tend to.  Mason says, "every day new thoughts that burn must be supplied or the fire will go out and present the dreariest of all spectacles, a desolate hearth".  For the littles, this is after lunch and into the evening.  For the olders, usually after 1:30 or 2:00.

I hope you have found something interesting and useful here.  It really is about getting out of the way and structuring your day with a routine that allows the Holy Spirit to do the work in the hearts and minds of your children.

From joy to joy,
Nancy

P.S. - Here are a few helpful extras!

Fall Planning - an older post about our days
Scheduling - Finding Your Family Rhythm - excellent words by Amy in Peru
Consulting - information on the help I offer for those who may need guidance or encouragement




28 comments:

  1. Thank you for walking through this a bit with us! I had jotted down your mention of your schedule during the Small Things presentation and used it as a framework for ours. I look forward to trying it out and tweaking as we go. :) What beautiful description regarding atmosphere by Miss Mason!!!

    Amy

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  2. Dear Amy,
    So glad you caught that! It is the same thing with different words and a different graphic. It's not the only way, but it works for us and I think it embodies much of what Mason prescribes. Keep us posted on your year and how it works out. I love coming here and seeing your comments - you must be such an encouragement to those around you.

    From joy to joy,
    Nancy

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  3. Very encouraging, Nancy! I have my last 2 at home now that I actually teach (out of 6), and our 'dynamics' have changed drastically...again! I haven't caught exactly what our rhythm will be this year. I have a boy who is 15 and girl 8 (and occasionally my 6 mo grandson!) and they are world's apart in everything! About the only thing we will do together this year is Bible/prayer and read-a-loud. This is so different for me. I have had a lot of adapting to do!

    Blessings!

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  4. love it. of course.

    i am working on our outline today... we started schoolish activity, but we are not all put together yet. we definitely don't have such elegant names or style in our house, but it's all very similar in essence. :) just like the differences reflected in us as persons ...

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    1. Dear Amy,
      Yes, we take an entire week to get up and running smoothly. We go over schedules, gather notebooks, books...just to make sure everything is in place. We don't really count that as starting.

      Ahh - but you have the multicultural Peruvian vibe going on...and we are sorely lacking that. (!)

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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  5. hah! i just noticed you linked me! ahh... you're so nice. :)

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  6. I always enjoy your words, your suggestions, and your descriptions. Although our home has only one real student, a Year 5 son and two younger sister preschoolers this year, I am striving to keep an atmosphere of learning and being together. I hope to get my "learning together at home" post up today.

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    1. Dear Heather,
      Sounds lovely! I look forward to reading it, Heather.

      From joy to joy,
      Nancy

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    2. Thank you Nancy for your kind interest.
      I finally posted it, although it lacks some of the finishing touches I usually like to add, but these days are full so I have to be content with the basics.
      http://www.americanadiangirl.com/2013/09/an-atmosphere-of-learning.html

      Your example is so helpful, I cannot express what it means to come here and learn from you and your readers. It makes it all seem possible.

      Thank you,
      Heather

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  7. So how did your first week go? :)
    Ours was good...definitely some tweaking needed, but overall it went well! :)

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  8. I love how you expressed your schedule in a lovely graphic.

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  9. I love your last comment, " It really is about getting out of the way and structuring your day with a routine that allows the Holy Spirit to do the work in the hearts and minds of your children." So true!

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  10. Love this post! I'm just curious, about how much time does you highschoolers spend on their independent subjects that are separate from the times you spend together? And if you wouldn't mind to share, what are their independent subjects? During your "Work at Table" time, are your highschoolers focusing on dictation and BOC each day or do they also do copywork as well? Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Dear Anonymous,
      They spend from 2-3 hours apart from family readings. They do dictation and copywork 3-4 days per week, and BOC once a week.
      Truly,
      Nancy

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    2. Nancy,
      Thanks so much for replying. I really appreciate it. Would you mind me asking....how do the high schoolers get all their studies done in that amount of time? Of course, I'm sure that is dependent on what studies they are doing. The reason I'm asking is because I'd like to start doing family studies now that my youngest is 6 (she's doing a CM-style kindergarten right now and will be 1st grade this fall) and I'm trying to figure out how to do that (I have a 6yo and a 16yo). Thanks so much for sharing!

      And sorry to post as Anonymous. It's the only way I can get my comment to post. :)

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  11. "It really is about getting out of the way and structuring your day with a routine that allows the Holy Spirit to do the work in the hearts and minds of your children." <---I LOVE this! I might make a poster of that quote and put it on my wall for a daily reminder. :)

    Btw, Amy (theycallmemommy) IS an encouragement to those around her! ;o) Love that girl.

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    1. Dear Catie,
      Thank you! I am glad you found the post helpful. This way of arranging things has worked well for us over the years. Say "hi" to Amy for me, too!
      May all your goings be graces,
      Nancy

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  12. Thanks so much for this post. Would you. Ind expounding on the masterly inactivity part? What are the kids actually doing during that time? Are they off I'm a quiet place etc? Reading? Writing?

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    1. Dear Tara,
      Good question. The answer is "yes"! The question you have asked has to do with living and atmosphere - how you set up your home, what things you make available to them, the ideas you present during the school hours...LIFE! They may be off in a quiet place, reading, writing, drawing...any of these things. I find no tv or computer during the week and limited on the weekends really helps them apply themselves to thinking up fun things to nurture their imaginations. Have you read this post? - http://sageparnassus.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-best-part-of-education-masterly.html

      HTH,
      Nancy

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  13. Excuse the typos that were auto-corrected!

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  14. I am still confused about Masterly inactivity. Does free play count? My children get involved in very long role acting games in which they re-enact and expand on books they have read. Currently, for example, they like to pretend to be the characters of The Teddy Robinson Storybook, or The Little House books. I try to give them lots of free play time like this and they always gravitate to building with magnatiles or role play games. I went to the post you linked in a comment and feel pretty confident that their type of play fits into masterly inactivity now, but still looking for confirmation of my suspicion. Thank you!

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    1. Dear Julie,
      It sure sounds like masterly inactivity to me! Now, if you were orchestrating all of this role playing, then it wouldn't be. The inactivity is on the part of the parent or teacher. It's masterly, in a sense, because you have given them great ideas, excellent books, and an atmosphere that then gives them the time and space to use their imaginations and play without you telling them what to play and do! Does that make sense?
      Truly,
      Nancy

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  15. Hello Nancy, I have referred to this article many times. And I now know what masterly inactivity is since I read Chapters 1-4 of Volume 3 of Ms. Mason's writings. I do have 2 questions:
    1-The first is about masterly inactivity. Ms. Mason planned her children's time with a good number of hours out of doors which included nature walks and nature journaling. Then she had an hour of handicrafts, painting, music appreciation etc. My question is...is this wrong? Does an afternoon schedule impede or a child's ability to experience masterly inactivity?
    2- Secondly, could you write an article that expands on your ideas of "the atmosphere here includes an anticipation and expectation of learning."

    by the way, I am re-blogging. I hope you come by and check it out.
    Thank you, Charmayne
    lovinggodandmyfamily.wordpress.com

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  16. Nancy, this sounds lovely. I'm wondering when you fit chores into your schedule? This is what seems to eat up our afternoon time!

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    1. Dear AnnaMarie,
      Chores and music are done before 8:00 when we begin with our Family Gathering. The children only have about 10-15 minutes of chores in the morning. We all pick up every day right before lunch and right before dinner. Our house needs to be in order but not spotless!
      Warmly,
      Nancy

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  17. Can you flesh out how the varied lessons idea plays out with your schedule?

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    1. Debi,
      Sure! I can give you a brief outline, but this changes with the ages of the children from year to year. So, during the Family Gathering, I might read aloud a piece of literature and we might orally narrate, then we sing a hymn, then we enjoy some poetry, then listen/read/narrate Shakespeare, then a folksong...Next is most likely math for 30-40 minutes, then to do individual history readings, then At Table where copywork and dictation happens, then to science followed by a written or drawing narration. I always have an eye during the school day on when someone is sitting or doing one type of activity too long. Does that help?

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    2. Let me add...for the student who wishes to linger a long time over something, I allow that in the afternoon (Masterly Inactivity). Also, I end up varying the lesson types within each segment shown in the diagram. I think you'll find that it comes pretty naturally after you've done it for a few years and keep the principles in the forefront of your mind.

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