The 20 Minute Lesson

After the first week of our shift to 20 minute lessons, I am all happiness. This has made such a difference in our homeschooling, so thank you to Michelle for pointing me in the right direction. Now I spend our mornings doing 20 minute increments with the kids. I am able to work with one child at a time, while the other does their own project. We move back and forth between Math and English. Every day is a little different, depending on what the girls need to do. Then, any extra items I have that we don’t finish I place on “the afternoon list” (more on that later).

What I love about 20 minutes:

I already knew this from my own training in college (I graduated in Secondary Ed) but I had forgotten the truth of it. 20 minutes is really the optimum time for concentration and learning. My own habitual preference is to get work out of the way, but this makes everything a grind. Now we work for 20 minutes, and then we change topics. It’s refreshing.

Also, do you know how many 20 minute increments there are in the day? Since I’m not obsessing over Math we have been able to add in our “specials” with much greater regularity. This week we managed all of them: history, science, family history, Latin, and sewing. I had not pulled that off once in the previous 5 weeks of school.

Initially the 20 minute increment life was a little exhausting. Energy to redirect and start over every 20 minutes has a different feeling to it then settling in for a project and walking away when it’s done. But it also provides a freedom. For one particular family history project, it made all the difference. I had been putting off the project because I wasn’t sure it would work. I wasn’t certain the kids would be interested. I wasn’t sure it would warrant the time. But I can throw 20 minutes at anything. So we gave it a try. And the kids loved it.

The Afternoon List:

Keeping topics to 20 minutes has also had a great side-effect. Because we don’t get everything done in 20 minutes we have “leftovers”. Before when I went upstairs for my 2 hour afternoon time (we would have spent this much time getting to and from school twice a day, so I am stealing from no one) the kids would interrupt me over and over again. Now, I have a list of “leftover” tasks that they are supposed to look at and do before they come to me. This also has “extra” tasks like letter writing, more piano practice, personal art projects, and playing with toys. I love having these independent tasks that can be meaningful uses of the kids’ time.

So, hurrah for the “20 minute lesson”!!!


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