Distraction free blocks


**This is a repeat that I updated to move here to the new blog. Even when I have bought boxed curriculum, we tweak it and use it this way, leaving our afternoons on this schedule. This year we have missed quite a few days while caring fo my FIL, but I still have these days in my planner, and we do as much as we can manage.

In December 2006 (Amazon tells me) I purchased and devoured a book called The Latin Centered Curriculum by Andrew Campbell.  The first edition is now out of print (the sign of a book worth reading). I loved the idea of once a week subjects. I still have my kids on that schedule for Classical Studies, Christian Studies, Science, American History, World History in the mornings as part of our academic time. I wanted the afternoon as free as possible. Around the same time, I read about the Brave Writer Lifestyle and was similarly intrigued by Julie’s philosophy of setting aside time for subjects that may otherwise get overlooked. An afternoon without distractions was appealing to me. If we concentrated our educational efforts into the morning hours, there is no reason not to spend a block of time on content subjects in the afternoon. The following descriptions are what have developed in the years since then. Even when I bounced around between curriculum publishers we’ve consistently followed this blueprint. Every afternoon starting at 2 pm we switch to the subject of the day and work until around 4 pm.

Monday Movie

Mondays are hard enough without spending a 9-hour day dragging everyone through whatever you didn’t finish last week. I keep a running list of movies but new and old and will search Netflix and Amazon prime for what looks good that day. We’ve watched the original Dr. Doolittle (after reading the book) and were delighted to see how close it stuck to the initial story. That led to a discussion of intermissions. Why don’t they have those anymore? We’ve used the movie time to watch science documentaries that pertained to whatever we were studying. This past week we watched Into the Woods and howled with laughter as we realized that the original Cinderella was being depicted and the evil step sisters were about to lose their toes. It is just a fun way to begin the week.

Tuesday Tea 

If you haven’t heard about Poetry Tea Time head over to the Brave Writer website for a complete tutorial.  Over the years, I’ve collected a bunch of poetry books, mostly at library sales and every Tuesday afternoon we stop whatever we’re doing and make tea. We even purchased a special tea set while on vacation at Disneyland. The beauty of tea time is that it can be as simple or fancy as you would like. Each week is a bit different from us.

We’ve served:

popcorn and lemonade

popsicles and ice water

tea and cookies

apple cider and spice cake

One memorable sick day saw us with saltine crackers and Gatorade. You get the idea. No matter what you serve, it is a special event. The school is put away, the poetry books are out, and you are enjoying a delicious snack together. We use this time to explore poetry and as a added extra reading the poetry aloud is good practice as well. As we munch,  we spread the books out on the table and peruse them. Soon enough, someone finds a selection they like and reads it aloud.

We also play music during this time. I like to use this time to cram a bit of culture into their heads and will choose classical music. Keep in mind that every week is different and some weeks my teens have treated us to their latest musical find. It was during one Tuesday Tea that we discovered that my nine-year-old loves show tunes.  He couldn’t get enough of them. Who knew? We wouldn’t have found out if I hadn’t made the conscious decision to make one afternoon a nonnegotiable tea time.

Wednesday Woods

Note- here in the burbs we live alongside a big Forest that has a bike trail

This doesn’t mean we go into the real forest every week.  Weather permitting we get outside for some Charlotte Mason-style nature study. We grab our nature journals and head outside. Living in Chicago means we have a few months where that is almost impossible, and on those days we work inside. I have a weakness for fresh flowers so we can always sketch the kitchen bouquet. This winter we worked on our bird identification skills and are hoping to get out to Northerly Island soon for some practice. Ideally, we actually get outside to a park or lake shore and explore. One of my boys is an avid fisherman and this day used to consist of some kids fishing and everyone else wandering along the river alongside them collecting materials into zipping lock bags.

Thursday Thorsday

I double puffy heart love alliteration. There is probably a whole essay in me somewhere about alliteration. This day could have been Monday mythology but, Monday was already movie day.

After all, the day is named for the man, might as well give him his due.  Really, it is so much more than mythology- this study of legend and lore. One of my goals is to raise global citizens and knowing the history and religious beliefs of the world goes a long way towards understanding different viewpoints. This study delves into geography and becomes a study of world religions almost by default.

I have several blocks of reading lists that I cycle through. I have units on the Norse, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Britain, Irish, Scots, Indian, African, Native Americans, American Tall Tales,  as well as a separate Creation Myth study. I’m working on a high school study of world religions now that will focus on the Middle East. Having it, all planned out ahead of time makes this an easy prep day for me. We read aloud and discuss, and it almost always takes us over the 4 pm mark.

Friday Formalism

In art theory, formalism is the concept that work’s artistic value is entirely determined by its form—the way it is made, its purely visual aspects, and its medium.  In other words, we use Friday afternoons for Art.  This is as simple as just bringing out art supplies and letting them go at it. We’ve also worked our way through art project books, and my high schoolers use the art courses available from the Oak Meadow school.  My kids actually do some art every day as it is their “thing, ” but this gives them a dedicated block of time and is a fun way to end the week.

5 thoughts on “Distraction free blocks

  1. Drew C.

    Memoria Press has the first edition of LCC available as an ebook now. 🙂

    1. Ooh- awesome. I’ll set up a link.

  2. Reblogged this on Viking Academy and commented:

    I thought I’d run this again to coincide with planning season.

  3. Denise

    I do so like this idea! I would be interested in perusing your book lists you mentioned. Do you have them online anywhere? Also, have you written about the high school study of world religions? I’d like to find information on that as well, and would like to read what you have posted. Thanks!

    1. I’m working on getting my book lists online. I can definitely type up what we used for our world religion course. Check back next week.

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