Friday, January 18, 2013

Group Studies- Being Educated on THINGS as well as BOOKS

From the archives (revised and updated)

Our school schedule is six weeks on and one week off. This gives us about a six to seven week break in the summer and takes the stress off of me during the year. I know that I have a one-week break every six weeks to work on the projects that I have been wanting to do. The kids love this set-up as well. We take a two-week break during Christmas and take off a few days for the other holidays as well. On birthdays or just plain hard days, we only read our books, and all of the other subjects, narrations included, go out the window. We have lessons from Monday to Thursday.

On Fridays, everyone looks forward to GROUP TIME. This is how we fit in all art, music, nature study, handicrafts, and other important "extras" that shouldn't be "extras" at all. Miss Mason reminded us that children should not be solely educated on books. THINGS have their place.. If your children are somehow growing weary of the wonderful literature you are giving them, ask yourself if you are neglecting these other important areas that children need to feast on as well.

Basically, this is what we do:

8:30 The children make corrections in their work (from the entire week) and have conferences with mom. I make sure they have completed everything on their personal schedules.

9:30 Week's Work: We recite memory work from previous terms together and review various school subjects. This varies throughout the year. We have sung the books of the Bible, reviewed math tables, geography terms and had map drills.  We've gone over Greek and Latin roots, put old timeline cards in order, learned spelling tricks, even practiced analogies with my older students who were preparing for the SAT. We've played NAME THAT TUNE using previous composers and their music. I keep a little card file with these ideas in it because I forget : )  The kids really look forward to this.

10am Music study (we alternate each week with our folksong/hymn or composer study.)

10:30 Plutarch or Shakespeare study with the older children. Younger ones play.

11am Artist Study or Paint (alternate weekly)

12am Nature Study/Walk or Handicraft depending on the weather and time of year

4pm Tea time- we all take turns reading aloud to each other as the children work on elocution (proper pronunciation and diction). This is a favorite with the children. Each child takes turn hosting it by making the tea (with lots of milk) and scones or other sweet.

Please note that the schedules in our HUFI curriculum give suggestions for artists, composers, poets, nature walks and folk songs for each year. However, this does not mean that each child should be studying these subjects individually. If you have more than one child I strongly recommend that you study these areas together. Just pick those that you prefer and go from there. If you have older children they may wish to strike out on their own, and I encourage you to let them. Don't force group time upon them. This is a normal part of their growing independence and isn't necessarily a reflection of your teaching methods.

one step at a time...


  1. How neat, LindaFay! :) Thank you for sharing! So you do this once a you have some sort of "Circle Time" EACH day of the week for other things you want to learn or just this once...that is a fantastic you have my wheels Circle Time has been a bit sluggish and I'm needing to revamp it! Any thoughts? :)


  2. We do something similar in our home! I had planned on doing a blog post about it this weekend - you can read it here if you're interested.

    I haven't managed to add Plutarch to my reading out loud schedule, but it is something I've been thinking about ever since I listened to Cindy Rollins' talk at CIRCE (the audio recording that is, I wasn't there - although I would love to go!). I'd also like to add some sequencing with timeline cards to our memory-work time, but haven't gotten around to making that work. It seems like it would be a good way to strengthen our Book of Centuries connections and build a good working time framework.

  3. Amy, We don't have a daily circle time. (Although, when the children were really young, we read through the Bible and a poet together daily. But this took only 20 minutes.) Some people like to take a single subject from Friday's group studies and cover it each day. I tried this, but my family preferred once a week. It was something they really looked forward to and also freed up my daily time. Either way could work.

    Amber,I enjoyed your post. It sounded well thought out and enjoyable.

  4. Thanks! Thinking on trying this!!! :) My husband went back to 24 hour shifts and it has been hard to do Circle Time with him home in the mornings more...

  5. I have so enjoyed your advice over the years and we follow the HUFI curriculum with a few substitutes for several years now. We love it. I have done the Friday group time in the past but finding it hard to fit it in as we are having a difficult time getting all of the other work done in 4 days. Ideally, the yr. 7 who is a 9th grader and the the yr.6 who is a 7th grader would only have math and science to do on Fri. but that never happens. In fact they are very often finishing work on Sat. mornings. They are great readers and writers but finding it hard to finish. I think some of it is that they dilly dally between readings and drag things out too long. I don't want to micro manage and so they are given a syllabus for the week marked out by day and know what they have to do. Following them around all day saying, "did you do this? Is thus and such done?" was frustrating us all. Now they are responsible, but even the Sat. mornings spent working don't seem to be helping them speed up. I don't think the work is too hard. They also very much enjoy the readings and the topics are discussed frequently and with passion. I just think they don't manage time well. I resent feeling like all evenings and now Sat. can be so involved with school. Any advice?

  6. Benita,

    If they are truly dilly dallying, you may need to micromanage for one term by having them do their morning lessons in the same room with you. I had to do this with my sixth grader and it really helped her become more diligent. She liked the accountability knowing that it helped her stay on task, but she didn't enjoy having to be with me every single hour. It motivated her to get on the ball and discipline herself.

    If it is not a dilly dally problem, then you may need to to take out a few books. I don't recommend having the children work in the evenings and on Saturdays. Charlotte was very much against this too. I believe that if an older child wastes time, then they will have to use part of their afternoon free time to finish up, but never in the evenings.

    I'm so happy to hear that they are enjoying their readings. When I tried to pare down a few books for one of my children because it took longer for her to read them than my other children, she adamantly refused becaused she loved the challenging books so much. I guess that's a good problem : )


    1. Lindafay-
      Thanks for your reply. My sweet hubby came up with a plan. He met with each child and went over estimated time slots for how long to do each thing. He then assigned beginning and ending times. This has given them a time frame to work within and they feel a sense of urgency so to speak to get it done on time. Quality does not seem to be suffering at all and it is helping them get it all done by early afternoon. We had a similar situation when we discussed taking away books - they couldn't seem to part with a single one!!! The nine year old is always done by noon anyway and the kindergartener has about 45 min. a day with me and spends large amounts of time in creative play and outside. She even went out today twice with temps in the twenties! She loved it!!! Thanks again for all you are doing to bring Charlotte's wisdom to light for all of us and for making it practical to live out.