Should we keep readings short?

I saw this question online today. A mom asking why we would possibly want to stop reading if children are enjoying the story? I thought this was a great question so here are some thoughts on just that.

For enjoyable free readers that they can just read or if we reading a story for the story’s sake we just read chapter after chapter. I do however find when we talk about the book say a year later they do remember very little besides the plot. The idea around slow reading is so that a single idea is introduced and digested through narration and the science of relationships builds layer upon layer year upon year. When we started with CM 10 yrs ago I felt the same however now I see and understand it. I see how the little by little has let my children not simply know the info and the story but rather they have a deep understanding of complex thoughts and ideas. They are able to discuss, with references, why they hold a certain point of view. The older 4 are now 17, 13 and 12 yr old twins. Lessons are still short – maybe 20 min. They listen attentively and all want to narrate first. I remember a friends daughter reading about Gregor Mendel’s pea hybrids. She’d done her single reading of only a page or so for that week. Days later on fetching her daughter from ballet she exclaimed – “I know why little sister has blond hair and we are all brown. I was thinking about my reading and……” had she read this single idea amidst a whole story – the book was short enough to read in a sitting or 2 – she would never have pondered this single idea, developed the science of relationships for herself. This way, instead of information passed from teacher to pupil the child is required to do the work and in so doing so they gain knowledge.

Besides this Charotte Mason encourages us to stop before their minds drift off and they loose concentration as part of reading to them is to build the habit of attention. We want to stop when they still excited and want more so that the next day is a treat all over again.

Drawing while listening to a reading.

I’d encourage you to give it a try with just 1 or 2 books and give it time for you to develop the rhythm of a short reading followed by a narration and see at the end of the year which books they have retained more memory of.

Weekly Planner

Wondering where to start with planning a Charlotte Mason education? To help you get going I have attached our weekly schedule. We have used this plan for the last few years – tweaking it here and there depending on the child and season of life.

We only added Plutach now that me children are hitting their teens and we still finding it hard – so go gentle on yourself. Remeber Charlotte Mason said that lessons should be about 20 min for a grade 5 aged child. Upper high school maybe 45 minutes. For grade 7 and up the reading is a large amount so we have found that we read our history together – mostly – and other subjects they read on their own and we discuss them on the designated day. After the discussion they narrate it into their books. This maybe in the form of a written narration or a map or a diagram depending upon the subject. I do hope that this planner helps and that in time we can help pad it out for you.

Find attached our Charlotte Mason weekly planner that we use for our grade 4s and up in our home.

Beginning Form Art

As a new mom I ensured I had lots of cheap, preschool paints and brushes on hand for my little people to mush around with.

As the years rolled by and I learned more about form art and dry brush painting I became more and more intrigued. Soon I began painting myself and the first thing I discovered was how frustrating it was to use a fat brush over which I had no control. Secondly how absolutely shattering it was to paint a picture with paint that wiped off and smeared into powdered dust once it dried. I realised then and there that just like Charotte Mason had always said….

Boxes of cheap colours are to be avoided. Children are worthy of the best.

Having good quality art supplies – even for our littlest people in the home – so I’d say from as soon as they stop wanting to just eat them and pull them apart and are now interested in using the crayon, pencil or paint brush for what it is – has made all the difference to our approach to gaining creative skills. Once a week we have a 10 min skills lesson where we practice how to put paint on the brush, not bend the bristles, dab off water, look carefully at the object and try to create a curved or straight line. These are often not works of art but like handwriting lessons they are building muscle memory and are not created to keep but rather build a skill.

In another lesson we may play with other mediums such as pencils or clay, we may look at colour mixing, shading or how to work and shape the clay. Once again not to create an art work but to simply experiment, explore and build skill upon skill.

These are special times that allow for your child to have the freedom to make huge mistakes and have lots of fun but yet to have good quality tools that set them up for success before they even sit down.

Nature Study

When we fist began using Charlotte Mason 15 yrs ago I was intrigued with her huge thrust on nature study. She really expected the children to really know their birds, plants and all about the world around them. The interesting thing however was that it was not don’t simply knowing about them but it was done through building a relationship with the world around us.

As children spend time outdoors they create connections that no book or lesson could ever dream of creating. Charotte Mason does infact advocate for children to spend 6 hours a day outside whenever possible. That is however another discussion on its own so we’ll keep that for another day.

Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.

Charlotte Mason

As children spend these hours outdoors they see creatures, feel the wind, they maybe bitten by an ant, taste the necture of a honey suckle and smell that fresh rain is about to fall. All these memories are stored and when it comes to later years to learn the sciences it’s these old memories and familiar friends they call into the lesson with them and it is from these that they learn the wonders of the world yet again.


A Family Feast would love to welcome you to our table. This journey through family, life, marriage, learning and growing together is something that entwines within each of us a story of grace, hope, dreams and faith.

What a privileged to journey with our children at home while they explore this beautiful – wide-eyed wonder world. Many years ago Charlotte Mason was introduced to us and since then she has become entwined within our DNA. Her practical philosophy blending with the outplaying of scriptures which under girth all of who we are and how we live. By practically applying her philosophy of education into our everyday existence we have been able to not only grasp a fully delight centered learning life style but we have also embraced beauty, excellence and a deep love for our saviour and all we’ve been called to as his ambassadors upon this earth.

We do hope that you enjoy joining us for this journey and learn as much as we have along the way.