Lesson Prep Sheets don’t sound very CM…are you sure about that???

My last blog post on homeschool organization kind of stirred up a bit of controversy over whether or not Lesson Prep sheets are Charlotte Mason based. But no worries, that’s why I’ve created this blog post in addition to what I wrote on my new homeschool organization set up and how I adapted it to CM. I want to help the readers here understand what I really mean when I say “Lesson Prep”. Within the organization post I discussed how I adapted the crate method by adding in lesson prep sheets to each hanging folder. I know the phrase lesson prep does not sound very Charlotte Mason friendly, however that is the best way that I know how to explain the concept in my own words. Well, let’s dig deeper and find what others have had to say on preparing a lesson or “lesson prep sheets”.

What Others Say About Preparing Lessons

Diane Lockman of the Classical Scholar speaks about providing context. Step one of her narration process is to absorb. She even goes on to say that we should look up any difficult words, locations, timeline, and historical contexts prior to reading the passage with the child.

Sonya Schafer of Simply Charlotte Mason speaks about looking behind and ahead. Step 2 of her narration process:

“This step is probably the one that is omitted most often. Yet it is an important part of the process and can make the difference between success and failure in a narration lesson. Take a few minutes to gain your bearings. Look at how today’s reading connects to what happened last time and prepare your mind for what will be read about today.”

This is exactly what I am doing with Lesson Prep Sheets, preparing the mind for what will be read about today. The only difference is that I did it in advance for about 12 weeks in advance. (I usually prep by the term or my head will start hurting)

In the Charlotte Mason Series, Charlotte mason refers to sharing a few words about what is to be read (vol 1 pg.233) .

Method of Lesson.––In every case the reading should be consecutive from a well-chosen book. Before the reading for the day begins, the teacher should talk a little (and get the children to talk) about the last lesson, with a few words about what is to be read, in order that the children may be animated by (vol. 1 pg 233)expectation; but she should beware of explanation and, especially, of forestalling the narrative.

How can we share with the children a few words about what is to be read if we haven’t pre-read the material. And there’s nothing wrong with having those few words that you will share in a prepared chart.

How I Use the Lesson Prep Sheets with My Children

So we can see from the above sources we should be prepping a lesson. You can make it as simple as you would like. The difference in what I do is actually creating a Lesson Prep Sheet. It’s the preparation prior to starting the lesson. I like to do this in advance instead of waiting right before a reading to do it. I also write this information in a chart and provide it to the child to do independently if they are old enough. I started doing this with my AO yr4 child. I would have it in a chart and readily available for me to explain to my AO Yr3 and younger children.

In the past, I have tried reading the night before or skimming right before a lesson but as I ended up with 3 kids all school age that became harder and we were really missing this step.

The last part of this sentence, “but she should beware of explanation and, especially, of forestalling the narrative.” is why I don’t have my children read the summary prior to formulating their own oral thoughts or written thoughts. The summary is really for myself as a teacher. Shortcut or cheatsheet for me. So yes we should avoid our own explanations but sharing general facts of character names, time frame, places, and locations does not count as giving them my own opinions. It really just gets their juices flowing and prepares them for the lesson.

I usually tell my oldest student (YR5) to look at the chart before reading and I let her refer to the chart while writing her own narration. It helps her remember names, places and dates. It’s mostly helpful for ME to read over the lesson summary. When she’s orally narrating, then I know what to look for and I can tell if she is hitting the key points without having to read the entire chapter for myself.
When she writes a narration, I sometimes have her look over the summary part so she can compare her work and see if she is keeping up with details like she should. I think it is great for them to compare their writing to others.

Hope this helps! If you have anymore questions or concerns. Just comment below on the blog <3


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