Let’s cut to the chase. I don’t know what I’m doing. Okay, okay…that’s too harsh. I have an idea of what I want to do, but I don’t seem to be accomplishing it. All the wonderful, beautiful choices I selected, painstakingly hunting down the lowest prices, preparing notebooks, and envisioning quiet, quality time with my kids as we learn together does NOT seem to be reality. Who’d have thought?
Bible time is good. Math needed a change for Evie but now is good. English/phonics was not right for Evie with Queen Language Lessons and Pathway. Science was never getting done because I was too busy. History was GREAT with Truthquest but I was having a hard time selecting the right books to use. The fine arts were not getting done.
So I’m clicking around hoping to find the answer to whatever my problem was, and I came across Ambleside Online again. When I first looked into homeschooling and decided to use the CM method, I peeked at AO, but it seemed very, very intimidating with all the literature, lack of a concrete plan, no grammar, etc., etc. I don’t know – I was just scared by it! It seemed like it was for the Charlotte Mason zealots, and I wasn’t ready for that yet! (Same with Old Fashioned Education.) Well I gave it another look since I needed SOME sort of guidance.
Long story short, we’ve used it this past week, and it’s gone well! My daughter LIKES the readings that I thought would be too intimidating I can manage to read them quite well out loud. It is doable! It didn’t really cut down on the amount of work that we were doing, but it seems to have defined it a little more.
It takes awhile to figure out how to use AO. At first it looks too hard, and then it looks too easy, and then scheduling it seems confusing, but I’ve read and read all about how others use it, and I think I’ve figured it out. The first, most important thing to understand is that AO “years” are NOT the same as grades in school. Evie is in 4th grade, but she is not ready for AO4. She is in AO2. Jacob is in AO0 right now, and next year, he most likely will not be ready for AO1 yet. There are 12 AO years, but you do not need to finish at year 12. I’ve read that AO10 is beyond any regular high school education, and I believe it! What you’ll need to do is look at the book lists for each year around where your child might be. Figure out where he/she is able to comprehend the books the best. Year 4 is a big year where your child needs to transition to reading the texts pretty much alone, so keep that in mind. With us just starting out hs’ing and just starting out with CM, AO2 seemed a good fit, and I asked on the forum and heard back that other mothers do start their 9/10 year olds in AO2 if need be. It seems to be a great fit so far.
Next, you’ll want to look at the book lists necessary for your year. A lot of the texts are available online since they are in the public domain. The others will probably be available at your library. Once you have that, check out the weekly schedule for your year. No matter when you start AO (like I started it in December), you start with Week 1. It doesn’t matter when you break for summer…just keep plodding along week by week.
From there, you just do as the schedule says. Every day, you should have work done in penmanship, phonics, and math, as well as weekly nature study, art, music, and handicrafts. You should include a timeline/book of centuries with your history readings. You can choose to do a science curriculum or not (we are). The actual assigned readings are history, geography, literature, and science readings. I used the “Master Planner” located in the AO Member Schedules Yahoo Group to get a better idea of how to spread it out through the week.
So, this week we did Bible time as usual and math as usual. I changed Evie to only doing copywork for language arts. We did our regular science book as well as read from the Burgess Animal Book (chapter 1). For history, we read a chapter of Our Island Story and Trial and Triumph, and we read a 1/2 chapter of The Little Duke. I’ll read 1 chapter from Tree in the Trail for geography tomorrow and we’ll mark it on a map. For literature, she listened to an audio dramatization of Pilgrim’s Progress, and I read a chapter of Understood Betsy and The Two Gentlemen of Verona by Shakespeare. (YES! SHAKESPEARE!) The only book I had to hunt down at the library was Tree in the Trail. The rest were all online.
She understood everything, and I know this because I had her narrate back to me what I had read, and she was able to tell me all the key points – even with Shakespeare. Today I asked her what she’d like to do next, and she said to get the boring stuff out of the way. I asked her if that would be the reading, and she said no and had a hard time coming up with something boring on the list to do!
So, success so far! I’m hesitant to even post this because I’m afraid I’ll jinx it! Jacob will be a tougher sell, but he’s not ready yet and won’t be for awhile, and that’s okay! We’ll keep plugging along with math and phonics and see where it takes us.
I’m actually going to ATTEMPT a formal nature study tomorrow (since it’s on my schedule). We’ll see how it goes!
Anyone else use Ambleside?