Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Sunday School Memoirs: Elements of Charlotte Mason

I also found myself (sort of) incorporating two aspects of Charlotte Mason education: short lessons and narration. Neither of those were conscious decisions on my part. My reasons for doing both were somewhat intertwined.

stock image - clockI probably started last year's quarter doing long lessons. Although I can't remember exactly what I did, I would imagine that lessons got shorter as the Sundays went by. What would typically happen is this: we'd do a long lesson (i.e. directly from the curriculum) and some sort of craft, but due to distractions, attention span, or comprehensive ability, the students would not be able to tell me the whole story behind the craft. That did not sit well with me. When I teach Sunday school, I am not doing it to entertain the kids while their parents are in their own class; my students are there to learn Bible stuff and be able to explain what they learned.

So I began to shorten my lessons. This was easier to do once I finally threw off the chains of curriculum and started making up my own lessons (again, regrettably late this quarter). Towards the end of this quarter, I don't think the actual lessons lasted more than 20 minutes, including distractions. For example, I did a number of lessons on various characteristics of Jesus. My focus was to drill in the one important point and ensure that they knew what Jesus did and how that differentiates Him from us. I also found that when I asked each child about the craft/drawing/whatever, he could explain fairly well what he'd learned about that day.

Student age is probably also a factor. As I've mentioned before, many of my students this year were also in my class last year, due to how we group by age. Longer attention spans + increased comprehensive ability.

If you did long lessons in Sunday school and your students were able to properly recite back what they learned, what were your strategies? Obviously this question only applies for younger ages, since their attention spans are generally shorter.

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  • Sherry

    I will say, short lessons seem to be best for all ages, even our eighth graders in public school will do better with a short lesson and then time to practice what they learn, or review it in some fun way.