Posted in Classical, Curriculum - Robinson, Homeschooling, Homeschooling Methods, Nature Study, Our Adventures, Subject Art, Subject Bible & Theology, Subject English, Subject History & Geography, Subject Languages, Subject Math, Subject Music, Subject Physed & Health, Subject Science, Three R's

The Robinson Curriculum and Multiple Subjects: When the 3 R’s Aren’t “Enough”

school-clipart-6The Robinson Curriculum is based on the idea of a student studying three subjects a day: Reading, ‘Riting, and ‘Rithmetic.  In elementary school, ‘Rithmetic covers math, ‘Riting covers composition, and Reading covers all other subjects such as history, geography, literature, etc.  This system works great for anyone living in an area with little homeschool regulation.  What happens, however, when you are required to cover other subjects not included in the Robinson Curriculum as part of your child’s education?  What about science, physed, art, music, drama, etc., etc., etc.?  How can they all be fit into a week without overwhelming your child or departing too much from the Robinson Curriculum‘s goals?

I do not live in an area with heavy homeschooling regulations; however, I am in a similar situation when it comes to Delightful, 7.  Delightful is one of those children with an insatiable curiosity for learning.  As we have progressed through her schooling, she has asked me to add the following subjects to her weekly schedule: Art, Physed, Nature Study, and French.  If I tried to make each of these subjects a full-blown course, Delightful’s courseload would be way too heavy for her.  I have come up with five solutions to this problem that you can use if you are in a situation where for some reason the Robinson Curriculum isn’t “enough.”  Here they are:

Solution 1

One solution is to include additional subjects during Reading time.  Perhaps your child desires or is required to cover science as part of his education.  In that case, consider taking out some of the books dedicated to other subjects and including some books that cover science topics.  The same could be done for other subjects until you have covered all of your bases.  In our house, I swap out some of the American history for Canadian history, nature readers, and other choices.  In this way, no extra “subject” is added to our schedule to take up time during our day.

Solution 2

The second solution is similar to the first:  Add any books on other subjects to Reading time; However, then divide Reading into two separate times of the day.  Cover non-fiction books on history, geography, etc. at one time of the day and cover literature at another.  In our house, for example, Delightful eats through fiction at about the pace of a locust devouring a field.  When it comes to non-fiction, however, she becomes slower than the tortoise that won the race.  I have solved this problem by covering non-fiction selections during Reading time and leaving Delightful to read fiction at night before she goes to bed.  During the day, we do a little bit of history, a little bit of science/nature study, and whatever else interests Delightful.  At night, Delightful reads one or more chapter books before falling asleep.  In this way, we can cover an abundance of material without adding more time to our school day.

Solution 3

The third solution is to schedule additional subjects into school time but treat them more as extra-curriculars.  I have done this with French because Delightful is insistent upon learning the language.  I schedule a little bit of French to be done each day, but if for some reason we don’t get to French, I just skip the day and pick up where we left off the next day.  I treat French like any other lesson a child might take after school: if a child takes piano but misses a lesson, the child picks up where he left off the next week without having to take a make-up lesson.  In this way, extra subjects can be learned without adding stress on the teacher or extending the school day overly long.  Think about it: some children learn a language by taking lessons on weekends, so even if you can only do something one day a week, your child will still make progress.

Solution 4

The fourth solution is to not schedule subjects like physed and art but give your child time to explore these options during his free time. If you keep an eye on what your child does outside of formal schooling, you will be surprised at how much can be counted toward a school subject.  Is your child skipping or kicking a ball around outside? That’s physed.  Is she painting with watercolors at your kitchen table? That’s art.  Is he listening to classical music or playing an instrument? That’s music.  Is she watching a science documentary? That’s science.  By taking this approach, you can monitor what extra “subjects” your child is covering and plan any needed activities or lessons to round out your courses or hours as needed.  In this way, you can complete additional “subjects” without overwhelming you or your child.

Solution 5

The fifth solution is to schedule all subjects during formal learning time but use some subjects as “brain breaks” or “recesses” from heavier subjects.  For example, after completing a math lesson, your child can shoot some hoops outside, to be counted toward physed.  Or if you need to help one child with a lesson, another child could draw, paint, or sculpt while listening to classical music, covering both art and music at the same time. Similarly, one child could look for bugs in the garden for nature study while you help another child with a different subject.  During these “brain breaks,” while your child thinks he’s having some fun, you can be recording and checking off what he’s done.

Ultimately, what solution will work best for you will depend on you and your family.  Hopefully, though, I have shared some ideas that will help reduce any stress and stay as true as possible to the Robinson Curriculum‘s plan.

Sample Week for Delightful, 7, in Grade 2:

As an example, here is what Delightful, 7, is currently doing each week, although her schedule is always being altered and updated:


  1. Family Worship: Memorization, Catechism, Psalms, Bible/Devotion, Prayer;
  2. Math: Life of Fred 4 days per week; Logic 1 day per week.  Sometimes Delightful does up to 4 lessons a day of Life of Fred because she loves that program so we take Fridays off for fun;
  3. Writing: Writing With Ease 2 days per week (we double up lessons); a workbook and fun writing following more of a Robinson method 3 days per week, ie. she writes, I point out errors, we correct;
  4. Reading: History 2 days per week; Science 2 days per week; Any other topic of interest 1 day per week.  Literature is covered outside of school time in the evenings; and
  5. French: Nallenart L’art de lire 1.

Weekly (at least once):

  1. Art, Music, and Poetry Appreciation with All Things Bright and Beautiful.  Delightful also often does her own art projects of her own volition.  The other day, she decided to try to paint the Statue of Liberty by copying a picture she liked in a book;
  2. Physed (usually more than once); and
  3. A book report using forms from Love to Learn Place.

The Science will drop off once Delightful is finished reading the nature study book she wanted to read.

Do you use the Robinson Curriculum in your homeschool? If so, how would you incorporate other subjects into your week?


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