A Charlotte Mason Education for All

Previously, on All My Children, or, Short lessons and forgetting what happened last week

A question that often comes up when we read books in short bursts with a week or more separation is, how will my child remember what happened with that much of a gap?

The answer to this is the Recap.

Think about how we watch TV. If it’s a serial, does a new episode just jump into the action? Think back to Rocky and Bullwinkle and the deep narrator’s voice after a commercial break, or at the beginning of an episode: “When we last left the intrepid duo…”

Or even soap operas, which were on daily but sometimes had days or weeks between story lines, (disembodied announcer’s voice)  “Previously, on All My Children…

They don’t expect us to remember everything, and we shouldn’t expect our children to, either.

Does that mean we give up and just read the whole book in a week? Nope.

We recap the previous week’s action before we begin.

When you bring out a book, first ask your child if she remembers where you left off last. She may remember everything and give you a great narration. She may remember only parts. She may say she has no idea.

That’s ok. Don’t get upset or frustrated.  Simply jog her memory. “Previously, on All My Children…” If she jumps in with, “oh yeah! And they were gonna go skating but…” that’s great! Let her take over the narration, and jog that memory again as necessary. If she doesn’t, that’s okay, too.

Doing this brings that memory out of medium-term storage and helps cement the material. It connects the material from last week to what you’re going to study today. It gives you a chance to catch any misconceptions that might have brewed in the ensuing week.

But what if Mom forgets what happened? Hey, we’re only human.

Make yourself notes.

At the end of a reading, take a minute to jot down the main points in brief phrases, just enough so that you will remember when you look at your notes a week later.  And make sure it’s in a place where you’ll find it next week!

This could be in your binder, in a composition notebook, on a post-it note that you stick in the book as a bookmark, or anything else that works for you.  The important thing is to be able to give yourself a nudge, if your child needs a nudge.

Don’t stress about this — as with everything with Charlotte Mason, it gets easier with practice.

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  1. Laurie

    What agreat reminder and helpful way to work through these short lessons.

  2. Fatima

    ‘ And make sure it’s in a place where you’ll find it next week!’ ? That’s me with anything. Great suggestions.
    Thank you

  3. Marjorie

    Me too! I’m constantly writing myself notes and then losing them 🙂 — Marjorie

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