Compilation of a Detailed Scheme of Instruction for an Infants' Department, c1885

By Geoff Cordingley

At the beginning of the logbook for Christ Church Infants’ School, Hertford, January 1871 to September 1887, is a set of instructions to be followed before and during an HM Inspection.  That directive refers to various accompanying documents the only one of which present is the following suggestions for a scheme of instruction. 

 In Arithmetic the inspectors were very much against the use of fingers or strokes when performing mental calculations.  The fashion of the day seems to be to add single digits in threes, so 9 would be added to another number by adding 3 followed by3 followed by 3. Today a child would be encouraged to add 10 and subtract 1!

Suggestions for the Compilation of a Detailed Scheme of Instruction for an Infants’ Department.  They can be modified to suit the requirements of the Class.


1.   RECITATION.    The first and second classes to repeat suitable pieces of prose and poetry.


3.   SIMPLE CONVERSATIONAL LESSONS on Objects and the Facts of Natural History.  Pictures largely used.    (See accompanying List of Object Lessons.)

4.   NEEDLEWORK and KNITTING.                See Code.

5.   SINGING.         Action and other songs.


7.   Other VARIED employments.



1ST CLASS – Probable age, 6-7.

1.   READING.   To know the powers of various letters, and by a combination  of the “Look and Say” and “Phonetic” systems to be able to read monosyllables and easy words of more than one syllable, either form two sets of advanced primers logically and systematically compiled, or from one set of books and a good supply of suitable reading cards.  All illustrations to be carefully explained and referred to the text.

2.   SPELLING.   Words in reading course.  Easy common words.  Word building from the black-board.

3.   WRITING.    Names in full.  Capital and small letters, and easy words and sentences from the reading course from dictation.  Transcription from reading course.  Reading easy words in manuscript.

N.B.-Children should learn to make on variety only of the 52 MS. letters, and their habit of rubbing out should be discouraged.

4.   NUMBER.   To add up to 20, and to subtract from 10 on slates and orally, without the use of fingers or strokes.  To write down numbers to 100.  To add numbers not higher than 9, mentally, in groups of three, thus:- 16+9 = 16+3+3+3 = 25 ; 16+7 = 16+3+3+1 = 23 ; 16+4 = 16+3+1 = 20 and so forth.

Multiplication tables from 0x0 = 0 to 4×12 = 48, not in order ; and 6×12= 72 in order.  Subtraction table from 10.  Mental arithmetic with the above as a basis.

2nd CLASS.            Probable age, 5-6.

1.   READING.    To know the powers of the various letters and by a combination of the “Look and Say” and “Phonetic” systems to be able to read easy words from one set of suitable first primers and an ample supply of cards.  All illustrations to be carefully explained and talked about.

2.   SPEELING.   Words in reading course.

3.   WRITING.   Small letters and figures from dictation.  Capitals from copying.  Several letters joined together from a copy.

4.   NUMBER.   To add numbers – not higher than 6 in value – on slates and on the black-board, and orally, without the use of fingers or strokes, after the method of counting in threes used in the first class.  To be able to count correctly any number of objects up to 20, and to find the pages in the reading books.  Multiplication tables to 3×12 = 36.  Subtraction table from 10.  To name numbers up to 20 on black-board.

3RD CLASS, Probable age, 4-5.

1.   READING.   Letters large and small.  Some knowledge of elementary combinations of letters.  Ability to articulate correctly their own vocabulary.  Knowledge of the difference in sound between f and v; th, sh, ch, &c., &c.

2.    SPELLING.     Very simple words phonetically combined.

3.   WRITING.   Elements and their simple combinations, and the small unlooped letters from a copy r from dictation.

4.   NUMBER.   To count things correctly up to 10, and to add numbers not higher than 3 in value on black-board and orally.

5.   NOTE; – The ball frame is supposed to be systematically used throughout the classes, and every advantage to be taken of the colouring of the balls in groups of three.


It must be remembered that the above are “Suggestions” only.

This page was added on 08/10/2015.

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