We’re going on week 6 of Ambleside, and we are still really enjoying it! The only subject that isn’t enjoyed is math (understandable in my opinion). It’s not too difficult – just too boring. However, I’ve told her that as soon as she is through with Teaching Textbooks (about 25 lessons to go), I’ll get her Pet Shop Math published by SCM, which she is thrilled about. I think Teaching Textbooks is a wonderful program for the record, but she just doesn’t enjoy math in the slightest.
I was trying to describe to a friend how to implement Ambleside Online (aka AO), and I remember that week that I spent poring over the Ambleside website, going back and forth between FAQ to booklist to schedule to forum and back to FAQ. It is a lot to take in and understand. I don’t know why it seems so difficult to grasp, but it is! Once you have the hang of it, it’s pretty easy to schedule and understand. I would have loved a step-by-step guide when I was figuring it all out, so I thought I’d attempt to put one out there for whomever might need it.
I’ve already discussed briefly how to go about placing your child. Grade levels at AO are not the same as grade levels in typical out-of-the-home school. You’ll most likely start Year 1 at around age 7 or 8. (There is a year “zero” that consists of a book list that children will enjoy listening too, but there is no formal schooling that goes on in this year.) My daughter just turned 10 and is in Y2. It is challenging enough and thoroughly enjoyable. I believe that my son probably won’t start AO Y1 until he is 8 because he just won’t be ready, but we’ll see what the next year brings. So, in summary, it is okay if you have a 4th grader who is in Y2, Y3, or Y4. Just browse the book list to see where his or her vocabulary and comprehension level would best be challenged and entertained.
For each Year, you’re expected to find a math curriculum to use daily as well as daily penmanship (can be copywork) and phonics practice (if necessary). You’re also told to do weekly nature, composer, artist, and hymn studies. So these things are not added to the weekly schedules over and over again, but you’ll need to make a mental note to remember to do those things on your own schedule.
Next, look at the schedule for your child’s year. You’ll see that it is by week. There are no daily assignments – only weekly. Let’s use a week’s work from Y6 for an example. You’ll see something like this:
Bible (OT): Genesis 17-20
Bible (NT): Matt. 26:30-46, see also John 14-17 (“Gethsemane”)
The Story of the World vol 4 by Susan Wise Bauer ch 28, first half of 29 (up to pg 323) OR What Everyone Should Know About the 20th Century: The Allies Invade Nazi-held Europe (1944), 3 pages; British Troops Liberate the Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp (1945); America Drops Atomic Bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1945)
Story of Mankind by Van Loon ch 70 Global War OR A Child’s History of the World ch 89 A New Big Power in the World
Missionary Travels of David Livingstone: ch. 4 OR Story of David Livingstone: ch 2 First years in Africa (and map work)
School of the Woods ch 4 Ismaques the Fishhawk
Couldn’t Just Happen 2. Dead Planets, Living World: The outer planets pg 20
Einstein and The Theory of Relativity by R Cwiklik ch 5 (or other Einstein bio)
Poetry of Robert Frost
Shakespeare – work on current term’s play for the 12-week term
Plutarch – read slowly through this term’s Life for the 12-week term
Age of Fable ch 30 the Phaeacians spend 2 weeks as needed
The Hobbit ch 4
This big list of books and chapters is confusing until you understand the different subjects contained within. You’ll see items from the following subjects in the list: Bible, History, Science, and Literature. Each item listed above fits into one of those categories. You can view the Booklist for your year on the site to see what books fit into to which category. Here is Year 6’s book list. We’ve been using a 4-day week so far with Ambleside, so let me show you how to get that done.
Choose 1 History reading per day. This encompasses your history reading, your history tales/biography, and your geography. In this year, you have The Story of the World vol 4 OR What Everyone Should Know About the 20th Century to decide between. You’ll also have to choose between The Story of Mankind versus A Child’s History of the World. The Story of David Livingstone is your geography to read from. Your history tale will be chosen by you from a list of books on their site.
Choose 1 Science reading per day. The science readings above include School of the Woods, Couldn’t Just Happen, and an Einstein biography.
Choose 1 Literature reading per day. Your literature choices above are Shakespeare. Plutarch, Age of Fable, and The Hobbit. You’ll also have some poetry to squeeze in on one day. We don’t count this as literature – but rather our “fine arts” for the day (along with composer study, hymn study, etc).
You’ve now boiled down your list to chunk-size bites that can be handled daily. You’ll also schedule your Bible, math, and copywork in addition to your fine arts lessons. You might also have a science curriculum you like to use. I make a checklist for each day – Bible, math, history, science, literature, copywork, and fine arts. I check things off and refer to the website for the assignment to work on for each subject.
I hope that helps someone become a little clearer on how to schedule things! If not, ask questions and I’d be happy to help un-muddle anything for anyone. 🙂