Narrating CM Peoria, Part 1

Hello there! I was privileged to attend CM Peoria Gathering this last weekend and boy! did I learn a lot! It was really inspiring and insightful and I thought I would share the things I learned. A narration, if you will. :)

Nicole Williams, Dr. Carroll Smith from CMI (I wanted to bring him home with me! What a kind, humble and wise man!), the TBG Community (I wasn't able to atttend the immersion, unfortunately), and Dr. Jen Spencer were all there... just to name a few of the great minds! What an incredible blessing it was. It was a last minute decision for me to go (thank you, Husband!) and I'm so glad I did!

The first talk I'd like to narrate is "Scheduling" by Nicole Williams. *swoon* I love me a schedule! (ENFJ here, with an emphasis on the "J"!)


One of the most important things I learned from this talk was respecting everyone's time in the family. To quote Nicole,

"We aren't the only person affected by the rhythm of our school day." 

"The rhythm of our day should incorporate 'Atmosphere, Discipline and Life.'"

This means, that just because *I* love a schedule (and I do!), there may not be children (or a husband) who appreciates it as much as I do. It doesn't mean that we shouldn't have one, however, but I'll get to that. I can't just schedule out our whole day and, like a drill sergeant require everyone to adhere to it. I have one daughter in particular, who appreciates un-structured time.

Nicole talked about her mom and how scheduled she liked to be; she said even her family vacations were completely scheduled. Her mom just didn't function well without one. (I'll interject here and say that knowing your personality type would be very beneficial! What kind of person are you?)

Nicole's sister, on the other hand, can't stand to schedule anything to this day; Nicole said she falls right in the middle. She doesn't actually love having a strict schedule. Which is ironic, because I'd guess that's one of the most popular series' on her blog! :)

BUT! She said that in order to successfully "do" a Charlotte Mason education, a schedule is necessary. At least for the morning studies. The afternoons, then, were left to Masterly Inactivity, or no scheduled activities. But there are still things we are to do in the afternoons.

Bottom line, if we want to get the subjects all of the great feast in that a Charlotte Mason education requires (and we do!), we must have a schedule for "school" time, and stick to it!

This means that if we have math scheduled at 10am, and at 10:05 our 3 year old needs us (potty emergency!) and we aren't able to return to school until 10:30, we are to move on to the next subject scheduled at 10:30. Sounds crazy, right? You might be thinking, I'll never get anything done! But au contraire!

To quote Nicole from her blog

When you are done with your 30 minutes of math you leave it behind and focus on dictation, for instance, but if you are late starting dictation, then you begin feeling stressed. You will either have to shorten your time for dictation, or you will have to be late to the next thing on your list.  It’s better to just move on to the next item and leave the last item behind. It will be there tomorrow, or next week, or whenever if shows up on your schedule again.

It is, in fact, freeing! So you didn't get to math today. You'll probably get to it tomorrow. It's not throwing the rest of your day (and week!) off by trying to "catch up." 

I've actually been trying to do this for the last month or so (after listening to the DE Podcast and re-reading Nicole's blog series), and I have to say, it's working pretty well. Our afternoons are more free. The clock is dictating our school day, not Mama. It takes so much pressure off.

Basically, there is a time for everything and we need to respect that time. In "real life" we can't always go back and have a re-do. We must keep moving forward and it's a good lesson for our children. :)

Important things I learned:
- Each family's timetable/schedule will look different. Some might have to start math right away, some might have to do it during naptime. Outside of Mason's principles, there is no Right Way to schedule.
- There needs to be a schedule posted where everyone can see it.  (Nicole said this was the first rule Mason had in regards to scheduling! Fascinating!)
- The schedule may (will?) need to change often, depending on life and babies and what not. Nicole said that she's had to change her schedule twice in one Term once! So, take heart, Mamas!  You're not the only one! :D

Things that I'm changing after attending her talk:
- Instead of having an hour long Circle Time, I'm going to incorporate those "cookies", as Nicole kept calling them, into the rest of our day. *That* is a Mason principle--we need those "cookie" subjects interspersed throughout our days to give our kids' brains a break. Makes total sense, right?
- I'm going to move our Quiet Time from 1-2:30 to 3-4:30, so those few hours right after lunch can be spent playing, doing handicrafts, nature journaling, drawing, etc. Read about afternoon activities here on Nicole's blog.

Here's the Delectable Education podcast on scheduling and here is Nicole's scheduling series. 

And here are our new schedules; maybe you'll get some ideas! They aren't perfected yet. I'm still in trial and error mode, but I tried to spread out the "cookies" in our day as best I could. :)


- The subjects in BOLD are those we all do together.

- For the Afternoon Activites, I do have certain things we do on certain days, because I am needed for those things (drawing, Shakespeare). The rest of the activities can be done when the child wants to.

- We are going to use the videos by Children of the Open Air for our Solfa lessons.

- I'm trying to read up on Swedish Drill, because I think that would be a nice addition to our day. Especially for my wiggle-worm children! Here's the series on Brandy's blog regarding Swedish Drill.

Now, just to keep it real here, this schedule is my goal, it's certain very possible that we're not going to get to all the Afternoon Activities every day. I'm completely fine with that. If there's one thing I've learned in my very short time of homeschooling (and have to keep re-learning!) it's that I need to remain flexible!

I'm so thankful for all of the people out there dedicated to getting more of Mason's philosophies and principles out there (to all us little people)! The more I learn about CM, the more I'm convinced that it's the best way for our family to educate. <3

Do you have any thoughts on scheduling?