(All posts are included here with permission from their respective authors. Homeschoolreviews.com has some reviews of AmblesideOnline.)
Praising God in thankfulness for AO: my soon to be 7 yr old and I just completed Year 1.... As first time homeschoolers we began in January feeling overwhelmed and unsure but decidedly committed to trusting the AO curriculum and CM purpose with our hope to finish by October 31 to have our "summer" last through Thanksgiving and Christmas . . . I haven't finished reading all 6 CM volumes, I still haven't implemented the Book of Centuries, and our nature journals are on pieces of printer paper, BUT my relationship with my daughter? Even while we haven't understood every detail of every story or every poem, we have been given a higher language to relate to each other and the world... Sometimes silly ( i. e. "Let's have an icery creamery conio" Oxford Book of Poetry), sometimes serious ( i. e. "The trees are crowding each other!" Parables of Nature) And in the foundation of this language is her own growing relationship with Christ Jesus, OUR growing relationship with Him together, and MY daily revelation in what it means that she is a "born person", and that my HUSBAND is ALSO a "born person."
Each term we got better, adding on what majorly lacked from the term before . . . The AmblesideOnline conference in Remington, Indiana this past July imparted a GRACE into me to be OK with the fact that she just missed the ending to "A Winters Tale" because she was less focused that day and unable to narrate that part . . . Because I now understand that at almost 7 yrs old, learning just the "facts" is not the point, and I don't have to be angry/frustrated when she has an off day. Earlier that term she had her own conversation with another 7 yr old AO student about King Lear while on a road trip together :-) . . . THAT is the point.
My conviction to home school is rooted in my desire to show my children how they can live knowing God for themselves their whole life and through everything this world may offer them . . . But until we started walking AO out, I had no idea how to do this. But somehow. . . between The Soo and The Cat Who Walked by Himself . . . it's happening!! Thanking God for all of you AO Advisors and Auxiliary!!! Blessings overtake all of you and your families!
Michelle's post, shared on our Facebook page, was so delightful to read that it inspired us to get this page of reviews going again. :-) )
This is my first year homeschooling. Up to the moment and probably the first couple of weeks that I started homeschooling my 6 year old, I wasn't really sure what we were going to do. I probably ordered WAY too much curriculum :-) but we have settled on AmblesideOnline and it is going fantastically! We just finished reading "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and I'm thinking, "Wow, we are reading Shakespeare. And he is actually understanding it." And he was so passionate about the book "Paddle-to-the-Sea" that we are already finished with it and he talks about Paddle on a daily basis. I have numerous other examples to demonstrate why we are loving it but I might spend all day on it. So, needless to say, we have found our curriculum. AO has been a Godsend for us.
I can't begin to tell you how you ladies have changed our lives. We've always homeschooled, but when our daughter Alexandra was in the second grade I was starting to get frustrated with the curriculum we were using. I won't go into all the details, but many thanks go out to Jeannette Tulis for telling me about AO. I read everything on the website, and ordered some CM books, prayed, talked with my husband, and we started changing how we did "school". I didn't know how this would become a lifestyle. We live differently because of CM and AO. We knew something was working when we realized that our 4 year old son loved listening to my husband reading the unabridged Robinson Crusoe out loud every night to our daughter. That same son (almost 13 now) is crazy about WW2 now. During our last move (my husband was in the Air Force for 21 years) we had over 40 book boxes!!
So now my firstborn is about to graduate. It's hard to believe. I'm happy, and sad too. Yet nothing's going to change too much: she's going to live at home and work part time and save money for college. She wants to study history and English literature. So she's going to keep doing that from home for awhile. She has a stack of books under her bedside table waiting to be read this summer -- books about economics, Samuel Adams, constitutional law, more Shakespeare, etc. She wants to learn French. She also wants to reread The Birth Of Britain. One of her favorites. It's wonderful. She loves to learn. She knows how to learn. She has a relationship with many things. So you see what can happen when you spend ten years with AO!!
Thank you so much, Advisory. I hope that all of you realize how grateful we are. I wish I could hug every one of you!!
With much love and gratitude,
Wow! It's been 10 years since I started using AmblesideOnline. And during those 10 years, my family has greatly enjoyed using AmblesideOnline for our main focus of homeschooling.
I just wanted to publicly say a BIG thank you to the developers of this awesome resource and to those who work tirelessly to keep things running smoothly.
In 2004, my two oldest children graduated from high school. I had the opportunity to home school both of them throughout their entire school experience. They both went off to college and graduated. They both are married now and starting families of their own.
My youngest child just graduated from high school a couple weeks ago. He will be heading to college in the fall. With his graduation, it brings my 19 years of homeschooling to a close. While this is a wonderful milestone in my life, it is a bit sad as well.
I wanted to encourage all of you to keep on homeschooling if you feel this is what God would have you do. It has been an amazing adventure for our family. Not all was fun, not all was easy, but it was all worth it!
And with the closing of our school books here at home, . . . please know I truly appreciate all you have done to help me teach my children for the majority of their school lives.
Dear AmblesideOnline Advisory,
We are missionaries on the border of Siberia in Mongolia.
Your site, curriculum, ideas and time to put AmblesideOnline together is really a blessing to me. I literally have tears in my eyes! I was especially touched by the section on Emergency plans and downloads. Though we are not without a home, we are often in transition! I know this will help us as we navigate the airports of the world that now have free wi-fi! Your thoughtfulness is quite amazing!
Thank you also for the links to e-books, art prints and classical music sites. They are a God send. Being 10,000 miles away from an English bookstore or library makes schooling a challenge and you have already helped me so much.
I am in Year 0 and am delighted to have found Mason now and will be reading her writings this year.
I can't imagine how busy you are, but I couldn't go on without saying thank you!
I just had to send a thank you letter to the advisory and all the parents that have put so much time into AO.
We are finishing up our first year of homeschooling, and using Year 1 with my 8 year old "second grader." I am in love with the books, and what my kids have learned, and the way we are able to do school. It flows so seamlessly into our lives. I am so thankful for the homeschool series being available online! I come by the site and read bits of it all the time.
I just got an order of books for Years 2 and 0, and as I was thumbing through them and reading sections I was overwhelmed with gratitude. The fact that you have worked so hard to compile these lists, and to have these resources online is amazing. That you made it free is mind-boggling.
Charlotte Mason and AO have been such a blessing to me, I cannot thank you enough!
Many blessings to you all!
Becky in MD
[The following note was written in response to a mom considering switching to AO after trying different curriculums.]
Come to AO. There is a warm and secure feeling the one lives with when joining this curriculum. It was ok to hop around and you haven't wasted anytime, or even much time at all. You didn't say what year your son is in, but in terms of history he will get more than his share, a bunch, a whole lot. And he will learn so much of a lot of other things too. Listen, if AO had not scheduled poetry like it did, we would not have made it such an important part of our lives. The nature study has opened up our lives to something that was never made available to me in public school. It is great fun to study the composers and the great artists.
Nothing out there has a schedule like AmblesideOnline does. Other people are writing books about homeschooling and making reference to AmblesideOnline. A lot of hard work, sweat and tears has gone into arranging this treasure we call amblesideonline.
You are intrigued. You do not want to spend the rest of your life wondering what doing AO would have been like and looking from the outside in. In a year or two you will be the one answering the posts to people just like you who are undecided and you will be telling them exactly what they need to hear to help them make the decision.
All the classical curriculums read the same books, but AO offers more variety reading, and branches out better, and has a lovely 36 week schedule, yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyy!
-- Juliana W.
I began homeschooling my newly 6 year old daughter for kindergarten this year - mostly covering the basics of math concepts and phonics/reading, as well as doing a lot of reading out loud to her and my 3 year old son. I began reading books about classical education and liked the thorough and rigorous education that could be provided but I was concerned about the approach (my daughter is the creative/dynamic type and I could just see her not developing the love of learning I want her to have). Then I found Charlotte Mason! I instantly fell in love with her philosophy and methods of education.
Then reality set in. How was I going to find, plan, and use all of these wonderful living books for history, literature, geography, etc.? I began my search on the internet and when I came across AmblesideOnline, I couldn't believe what I had found. I am still pinching myself! I read through the FAQ, reviewed the booklists and schedules, and puchased and began using some of the books for year 0.
I thought it couldn't get any better than this until I joined the e-mail group (now replaced with our Forum) last weekend! I have been just lurking this week; taking in all of the wonderful information that has been shared and enjoying the gracious sense of community. All I can say is thank you for all of the obvious hard and loving work that has been done and tell you that my prayers have been answered.
I read The Charlotte Mason Companion a long time ago. I loved it and wanted to do it but I still couldn't figure out how. The whole idea was put aside and I pursued other avenues of education. The other methods weren't working for me and I stumbled across AmblesideOnline's website. Now most of my CM ideas were from The Charlotte Mason Companion book and I thought the Charlotte Mason method was very warm, fuzzy, and vague but not realistic about providing adequate education for this day and age.
Boy, was I mistaken! After reading the FAQ's over at AmblesideOnline I thought very differently. It really opened my eyes. I started reading the original series and have finished 3 of them. The more I read of Charlotte Mason the more I am in awe of her thinking. After picking up The Charlotte Mason Companion again and rereading it I really understanding it in a new way.
It is a year this month that I have been following a complete Charlotte Mason style program and I am amazed and the increased depth in my children. Why would education want to leave this method? The hardest part has been letting go of my vision of what I thought education looked like or was suppose to look like. I also have a confession to make . . . this is the longest I have stayed consistent in one direction and I plan to stay this course.
Just wanted to share my happy thoughts today.
Today I read "The Black Douglas" from 50 Famous Stories to our son, aged 5.5, even though he thought he didn't want to hear it. He made the connection between the Scots, and William Wallace (on the Age of Empires computer game that big brother plays). He inspected the picture closely before announcing, "Yep, I think that's a claymore. Is he the same as the red guys on the computer?"
We had to straighten out who was Scots and who was English. Then he went around half the afternoon quoting, "Do not fret ye, the Black Douglas shall not get ye." "Don't be so sure!"
Right now he is giving Dad a totally unsolicited narration . . . I'm sitting here with a big grin! It's connections like this that make home educating, and especially AmblesideOnline so rewarding.
Thanks so much to everyone whose hard work and research have resulted in such a nourishing curriculum!
Mavis in cold and wintery SK
Today was our first full day of classes using Year 7 of the AO/HEO curriculum. It was great! My child enjoyed every lesson - chose to do additional reading and writing on her own - and looks forward to tomorrow. For my part, it was a joy to present and share with her! Thank you so much for providing such a wonderful curriculum - my child, my family, and in the long run our community will be best served by the efforts you brilliant ladies have put into developing this curriculum.
Peace to you and your families,
To the advisory members of AmblesideOnline a tremendous "THANK YOU!" You have schedules, book lists, guidelines, study notes, notes on techniques, links, etc. all for free for ALL years and I must say that that is almost UNHEARD of these days. You offer only the most quality selection of books that cause both the parent and the child to learn. I feel so cheated having been educated the way I was but have the utmost secure feeling knowing that my children will not suffer the same fate.
My 18 year old daughter and I went out to have some tea and to just sit and enjoy each other's company in some quiet for a while this afternoon. She was sharing out of her heart and mind the things that were 'stored up' from the last time we were able to chat. She has really been moved by some of the selections she has been reading from AO Year 11. Particularly, Black Boy by Richard Wright (and comparing it with Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain); Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer; Chaim Potok; Aaron Copland; Ourselves, Martin Gilbert's history and so on and so forth.
Our conversations aren't "academic" - well, they are but . . . they aren't; they're so much more. She is being fed truth about life and to call it 'school' or 'academic' is to demean what is going on inside her.
As she was sharing, I began to picture how blessed she is to have had this time. Then I began to realize that the Advisory of AmblesideOnline has really washed our feet - in the Biblical sense ~smile~. I pictured Wendi or Leslie or Karen or any one of them bending down washing the feet of my child and I got tears in my eyes. I'll never be able to thank you all enough for working so hard on our behalf. I won't forget that you could have said 'no' to this call from the Lord and kept all that you were learning and applying in your homes to yourselves, but you didn't. You said 'yes'. And our family has been blessed.
I started AmblesideOnline mid year, then decided I wasn't doing enough of the extras, so dropped it for a boxed curriculum...hated that so went back to AmblesideOnline mid year again...felt like we were missing things by jumping back and forth...went back to a boxed curriculum...hated it even more...and finally just said, THAT'S IT! AmblesideOnline and Charlotte Mason is the way I've always imagined our homeschool to be. It's absolutely everything I always wanted to do. So this past summer I dumped all the workbooks we never got through and said "IT'S AO OR BUST!" I've not looked back, and I can tell you, it has been an AMAZING year!
We are still implementing things a bit at a time. For instance, we have yet to do dictation. I'm actually adding that in this week. But my girls are doing SO WELL!
As an aside, last night we went to our 17 year old's band concert. (We've had three children go through public school--17 year old is graduating a year early this year, but are homeschooling our two youngest.) There was a song where all the bands--6th, 7th, 8th, and high school- -played together. It was called Simple Gifts. My 13 year old and I recognized it as an arrangement of Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring! (We studied him last year in composer study!) It was definitely an "ah-ha" moment for us. It really validated for me what we're doing here with AmblesideOnline.
We start homeschool high school next year, totally and fully with AmblesideOnline, and I can't think of a better, more rich, nor more fun way to do the high school years. I am so looking forward to next year!
I am so sold on AmblesideOnline. I wish, I wish, I wish I had gone full bore into it the first time I found it, but at least I'm here now!
Bethann in Indiana
I read about Charlotte Mason's methods and just knew that this was the way I should educate my children. However, when I sat down to plan out our year, I was so overwhelmed. Finding AmblesideOnline was a God-send! Much of the work had already been done for me by mothers who were educating their own children using the same methods I hoped to use. The booklists, the wisdom, and the support offered by AmblesideOnline have made my job so much easier! I can just concentrate on educating my children--and I'm receiving a rich education at the same time. :-)
Samantha in Louisiana
As a new AmblesideOnline/HEO mom of three boys, 12, 8 & 6 years old, I have to say, the Advisory Board and the moms who participate in the groups are engaging and informative, and they bring the curriculum to life. While it is our second year of homeschooling, it is our first year of homeschooling in a 'near Charlotte Mason approach'. We began the curriculum (Yrs. 7, 3, 0) without knowing the insightful and supportive nature of the group lists, as the FAQ were what sold us on Charlotte Mason and the curriculum. We loved the rigor balanced with the value of time well spent away from the books.
This balance was a big thing for me as I have a tendency to be a task-master. At forty-one years of age it 'seems' this is the only big thing left that the Lord is still working on with me. All the other things we're working on seem small in comparison to being transformed from being a Martha to a Mary. Anyway, . . . about the value of the group lists--the sage advice and leading questions that fill the responses have been a major blessing to me a times. The warmth and wisdom of the Advisory and moms are worthy of the value set on such things in the Bible. And they are worthy of a hearty mention on the website. It's your best kept secret!
Love and Blessings to your family,
"Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life; We begin to see what we want. Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Thou hast set my feet in a large room; should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul." ~ Charlotte Mason, School Education, volume 3 of her series, pg 170
I can't remain silent another day! I have been immersing myself in AmblesideOnline information for the last several weeks. I've read much; my heart is warmed. A little flame is burning now - though I grew up to find myself in a small room, I want my children to find themselves in a large, beautiful room!
I cannot even begin to tell you how blessed I feel to have found this site. I have a dear friend who is just amazing. She and I both have 6 children ranging in ages from 11 down to 9 months. She has been talking to me about the Charlotte Mason approach, and I finally dove in. I am so impressed with her children and want the same for mine. Hers are quite imaginative and amazingly intelligent. They are so well-read, well-rounded, and cheerful.
Thank you for all that you have done. I have tried a hodge-podge approach to homeschooling, and though my children are doing well, they weren't motivated to learn. They were bored. I was reading Shakespeare (Nesbit's) today to my 3th and 4th graders, and they didn't want to stop! I was shocked. If you knew me, the very fact that I am teaching Shakespeare would amaze you. I am amazed. God is so good! In studying classical music, I discovered Claude Debussy. He's wonderful! The children and I love his piano music! Again - that I am studying this with the kids - heretofore unheard of!!!
I feel like I am now a part of a really smart, really cool, really happy family. Thank you, thank you, thank you. God has used you all to give one tired Texan hope. Lots of hope! I'm plum excited out of my boots!!!
In Him we live,
Well, a while back I asked for help with ideas for vacationing on the way back from Cincinnati. We actually managed a family vacation further away from home than we'd have intentionally planned on, and our family loved every place we visited.
Anyway, we had a few fun AmblesideOnline moments on the way home.
While we were driving through Indiana, our 10 year old saw a sign that marked the Blue River. He got sooooooo excited. He asked, "Are we in Indiana!!??? Are we? Are we? Are we?" When he heard that we were indeed in Indiana, he began relating a lot of stories and various other little details which he had picked up from The Bears of Blue River. He was so excited that he sort of lost track of himself at one point when he said, "When India was a small country . . . " I was rolling on the floor of the van, I tell you!
If he hadn't already illustrated the fact that he knew in what state The Bears of Blue River and the Blue River were set, I'd have been a bit more concerned!!! =] But it was all just fun!
Anyway, with all that excitement, we had to canoe down the Blue River, and the oldest two were busy asking all kinds of questions about Lewis and Clark and The Bears of Blue River and Minn and more when they were visually surveying (or remembering) the Blue River, the Mississippi, the Ohio. They were also busy asking things like where the Brandywine River met the Blue River and etc...
We also visited Squire Boone's cavern and mill where a particular gentleman and another lady picked up on our family's interest in history and historically accurate renderings of the lifestyle of Squire and Daniel's day. They shared ever so much knowledge about that, as well as the Civil War battle that occurred near Corydon all the way up in Indiana. We were absolutely fascinated (so I'm sorry to say those two history buffs rather ignored some other families in order to feed our family's insatiable appetite for more wonders..........even while we tried to back off so they could cater to other families, they knew that they had an appreciative audience with us, so they just drew us back in time and time again!!!) . . .
Later, while we were hiking in Hoosier National Forest, the 10 and 8 year old boys, complete with coon skin cap, powder horn, and sticks for rifles were busy hunting, reloading rifles, and having a great old time as Squire and Daniel!!! (then, we happened to have history tapes on Daniel Boone on the way home, there was not enough space in the van for all of the hub-bub and excitement when the boys realized that!) . . .
The point of this ramble? I truly do not believe that my family would have enjoyed those moments nearly as much without AmblesideOnline, and I cannot thank all of you advisory and other posters enough.
Thank you not only for an education, but for a whole new life.
I left AmblesideOnline for a season because I did not really understand Charlotte Mason's methods and was having trouble trusting that they would really work. Also, with a new baby I thought it would be easier to have a prepared curriculum complete with lesson plans to fall back on. I thought I did not have the energy or the time to learn enough about Charlotte Mason to really make it work for us. But, I keep coming back to it and my kids are happiest when that is how we do school. So, I need to make the commitment to make it happen and do it right. Educate myself about how to educate them and then stop worrying that I am not getting right.
Our family has had some ups and downs,as most families do, and during the worst times all we did was copywork, bible, math, and read books listed at AmblesideOnline. That is when they learned the most! They remember nothing from the workbooks we have done and very little from the mountain of books the purchased curriculum provided. So the proof is in the pudding, as they say.
AmblesideOnline and Charlotte Mason have been such a blessing to our family--even when I did not realize it at the time! Now I look across my bookshelf and I see lots and lots of great books but better yet, I see memories. Memories of time spent together on rainy days reading, sitting out back reading, listening to books on tape in the car, adventures had in the back yard that spilled over from our stories, and time spent cooking together because something in a book sounded good.
So you see, AmblesideOnline is very doable. Even when one thinks they do not know what they are doing, it works!
We used [another literature-based program] for 2 years. I had found it when my oldest was 3 y.o. and had planned on using since that time, and I LOVED it, my kids LOVED it and my husband LOVED it! Why did we leave? It wasn't because of dissatisfaction with the program in any way; rather, our neighbor was doing AmblesideOnline, and the things she talked about intrigued me.
But I loved [the other program] and it was soo hard to think about leaving. I agonized for a semester and then decided to do 1 trial term. We had read ahead and finished most of our [other program's] year in March of 2005, so we decided to start with YR1, term 3, just to see. I felt in my heart that although [the other program] was great, AmblesideOnline was probably the best, yet I still didn't want to let go. I have four children and had already planned how to integrate and combine [grades] for all of them all the way through highschool. Still, I was beginning to see that they were not retaining anything. We really did devour our books; we inhaled them and then left them to the digestive process, moving on to the next course without ever looking back. We (me included) remember nothing. But I was afraid of what I thought was an agonizingly slow pace with AmblesideOnline. I wanted to read 30 books in 1 school year, not 3!
We are doing AO yr 2, term 1 and we are happy. I see now that my heart, and God, were pulling me in the direction that was best for our family. My children know European Geography intimately, their best friends are Richard, Duke of Normandy, and Otto from Germany. They are traveling slowly on a pilgrimage with Christian and applying what they learn to their own individual struggles. They rejoiced with Constantine as he carried his cross into battle and freed the Christians from persecution. They love Peter Rabbit and all his quirky little friends. Their play time is filled with acting out Oberon, and Titania, and Puck, or Romeo and Juliet, or the Battle of Hastings. Our newest dog is named Romeo. They are learning Greek and Latin and Hymns and composers. My 4 y.o recognized Bach playing on the sound system at Walmart. My 9 y.o. son claims that his favorite musician is Antonio Vivaldi! We have time for crocheting and taking apart fans to see how they work. In short, we are living and learning, rather than simply "doing school." Our lessons permeate every aspect of our lives, from driving into town, to play time, to applying Biblical truths.
There is a depth, a richness to AmblesideOnline and Charlotte Mason that was lacking before, and I never even knew it.
So bless you on your voyage of discovery. Doing a trial term will hook you! :0)
Why we chose AmblesideOnline
We have just completed our second week of homeschooling and it has been more successful than I could even imagine. We are using AmblesideOnline as the curriculum for our school. Though there is really no formal curriculum for Kindergarten, which I love, we are learning our letters, counting, playing outside, and growing closer as a family. Last week consisted of the letters F, B, W and A; recognizing things that belong together; an outing to the Dallas World Aquarium; swimming; and Enrichment with our local HS group.
AmblesideOnline is a curriculum based on the writings and teachings of Charlotte Mason, an early 20th century educator in England who was both teacher and administrator for schools throughout England. This philosophy of education was exactly what I was looking for. Why you may ask? Many homeschool curriculum seem to be written for families who are ultra-conservative or conservative Republican Christians. Though I am a conservative in my Christan beliefs, I am not a Republican. I consider myself a moderate Democrat. I believe the gospel calls me to work for social justice and spiritual renewal. (If you want to know how you can be both Democrat and a Christian you might check out Jim Wallis's group Sojourners at www.sojo.net )
AmblesideOnline, though unapologetically Christian, does not force certain political views in its choice of living books and materials. Matter of fact, AmblesideOnline allows students who have reached a certain maturity to look at all sides of history, science, literature, etc. Today, the Advisory of AmblesideOnline, who are a volunteer group of wise women who have poured their hearts and time into making AmblesideOnline of highest quality, posted Year 11 of House of Education (the high school version). The focus of Year 11 is the 20th century.
My prayer for my children is that by the time they reach this age, they will also have the spiritual maturity to tackle these weighty issues that shaped our country.
Before I read it I thought to myself, "Oh no, I am finally going to find something to not like about this. They are going to give students some revisionist history and only tell one side of American history." Boy, was I wrong. The Advisory has presented a well rounded, thorough representation of the United States. My children, who were born in 2000 and 2004, will never have lived in the 20th Century but they will be able to learn about it. With much prayer and wisdom, our high school aged students will be able to learn about the world we grew up in without it being tainted by "red" colored glasses.
I know that the same prayer and wisdom was put into all the other years of AmblesideOnline as well. As my children learn about this great big world that God has entrusted to us, they will be able to see the good, the bad and the ugly. They will be able to see God's hand in history and science. They will grow to become His followers. They will learn how people overcame hardships. They will see that the part of the world they live in is only a small part of the entirety. They will learn about children who were not as fortunate as they are and hopefully find a heart for the "least of these". They will learn that in the words of a children's song, "Red and Yellow, Black and White, they are precious in His sight." This is why we have chosen AmblesideOnline for our home.
On the Journey,
Amy Brooke Witt
[This was originally posted in Amy's blog Aug 2005, and is reprinted here with permission.]
We ALL love AO/CM, and my biggest problem now is my personality. If we 'fall behind' I freak out. There really is no 'falling behind' except in my mind, which is the beauty of AO/CM.
This group is wonderfully supportive, and the education is top-notch. The biggest hurdle I've personally found in home educating is the schedule. Once you map your week out, it's a piece of cake to do the actual schooling. And so relaxing and enjoyable. My husband, who supported me when I first yanked them out of school, was really unsure as to how it would turn out, and we made a promise that we'd evaluate the kids after a year and make the decision to stay home or go back. After three months, he looked at me and said they were never going back. He was able to spend a couple of days with us while we were schooling. He read to our 7 year old, and helped our 11 year old with math, and thought it was a fun way to school. Then I pointed out that he had learned about birds/nature study, math, British history, religion, Spanish, poetry, American history and ancient history in his 'fun little readings.' His jaw dropped and he admitted he hadn't even realized it. He then got excited and told me all about the birds they knew now (I'll admit, I took advantage of having daddy home and baked some cookies and took the day off :) ) and how he wishes he had learned this way, and how lucky his kids were to have this opportunity. And the fact that it's so cost-effective is marvelous.
I've been reading about Charlotte Mason and trying to implement her philosophy in our home school for years. The big question for me has always been which books to use with my children since my own reading has been rather limited. I turned to home education catalogs for help in finding quality books. This led to many great books, but with "gaps." Great novels are easy to find, but what about comprehensive history books that don't sound like textbooks? What about well-written biographies? What about books that present inspiring, living ideas in the subjects of nature, science, and geography?
Enter AmblesideOnline. I'm so thankful that God guided the ladies on the Advisory to search for (and find) books that Charlotte Mason herself used for her schools. He gave them the backgrounds and discernment to find other books that have been published more recently, but that contained the qualities she would look for if she were with us today. Rather than listing some of our family's favorite books from the last two years of using Years 1-6, I'll simply direct you to the booklists. Read some of the books that are available at your library or online and see for yourself--these books are alive with ideas our children need.
I just have to say, again, "thank you" to the advisory for putting AmblesideOnline together. I am so thrilled with CM's methods, the book choices - ones that I would probably never have chosen. To see all the benefits that have come from this . . . it's more rewarding than I expected home schooling to be.
My husband is so pleased with what I am teaching the boys. He has always kind of made fun of me in a good-natured way over my insistence on unabridged books. Well, I gave him Pinnochio to read to the boys at nighttime. (we are doing Year 1 and it is on the free reading list). He just loves the book. He keeps saying over and over again, how much he is enjoying the book and how much better it is than the silly movie. My 6-year old son agreed that it is better and he also said that the Beauty and the Beast story is better than the movie, too (I wholeheartedly agree!).
And, the other night, I was in a class with a high percentage of elderly people. We were discussing something and someone mentioned "that guy who carried around the lantern." Well, this freshly educated momma knew her stuff. I knew it was Diogenes! I felt quite pleased with myself. :) My son loved that story, by the way. He thought it was so interesting that he rolled the barrel around and lived in it. He is quite disappointed to learn that the Fifty Famous Stories aren't really true. But we have been using quotes from them for our copywork. They are great!
So, thanks again!
brooke in oregon
I just finished putting together our Year 7 materials. This will be our third AmblesideOnline year (counting booklists, not really full-years). We started with AO 4/5 (summer combo) and did AO 6 last year.
I just typed up our book purchase list and thought I would share with you all as an encouragement and also a testimony to the low-cost of using this program.
My estimated cost this year is $200. I know this may seem like a lot but we are starting the upper years and that means a more expensive Math and Science program (Math-U-See and Apologia Materials). They form the bulk of my expense this year.
My other purchases for Year 7 include:
History of the English Speaking Peoples, 4 Vol. set (used in Years
Easy Grammar Plus (used in Years 7+), $22.25
Grammar of Poetry (Year 7), $30 for teacher and student guide
What Every Happened to Penny Candy (Year 7), $13.95
That is it. All the other books are either available through my library or are online as html or can be downloaded for free and printed out. Two of my purchases will be used for multiple years - so really I am saving a tremendous amount by buying them now and resuing them throughout Jr. and Sr. High.
I read online that the average homeschool family spends $400-500 per child per year on curriculum. I think that we spent about $100 on Year 6 materials and $40 on our summer combo session.
In my humble opinion, the very best part of AmblesideOnline is it's affordability. This is no dollar amount that one could place on this quality of curriculum!
--Carol H. :o)
(Read about Carol's journey to homeschooling and then to AmblesideOnline on her own website)
I discovered AmblesideOnline years ago. I implemented some of the suggestions for my oldest daughter. especially the great children's literature. I didn't fully implement it with her because I was using something else for history. But I started out our youngest with AmblesideOnline's pre Year 1 suggestions. She just flourished. Then Year 1 went by so fast and was so easily implemented using the schedules that I knew I could continue without any problems. My lil daughter loves school, the stories as she puts it, the history suggestions and the supplemental readings just catch her attention. I do not use everything suggested...I substituted Christian Liberty Press' Science readers for Parables of Nature because she didn't grasp the stories or the language. I covered church history in 7-8th grade with our oldest so I didn't purchase Trial and Triumph to use with her. But that is it, and all and all it has been such a rich, and varied curriculum. With our oldest dd I put together a curriculum using What Your Nth Grader Needs to Know books and followed that as a spine. Having gone through the series, 1st-6th, I can say AmblesideOnline leaves nothing out, on the contrary, it is a much more useful resource. Especially centering on the methods that Charlotte Mason suggested that is what saved our homeschool, we have graduated (almost) two, our ds who homeschooled just for high school and our oldest dd who went through an eclectic Charlotte Mason education from 4-12, who is wrapping up her senior year this year. God willing, our youngest will be an AmblesideOnline graduate, she is currently studying Year 2.
I had been trying to make my own Charlotte Mason curriculum, which was quite daunting. When I found AmblesideOnline, I was so excited! These wonderful ladies had done all the work for me! Now, all I have to do is follow the schedule, feeling confident that I'm providing a well-rounded education. When I pick up a homeschool catalog now, I know what I need or don't need--I'm no longer tempted and confused by all the choices. The only fears I have to battle now are the ones that say, "this is too easy!" However, I look at the results--my happy, well-rounded children--and those fears don't last long.
House of Education Online has helped me to envision the overall structure of a Charlotte Mason education in "real time". I particularly have been helped to grasp how rotating studies (Terms) were used, how to place a child into a "level" of learning and mastery, and how the flow of studies proceeded. Charlotte Mason's books gave great insight and the supplemental Charlotte Mason help books were helpful, but none have been as helpful as seeing a Charlotte Mason education in ACTION right there on the Internet. I have been able to follow along, bringing these wonderful and effective teaching strategies into our own home a little bit at a time, so I have never felt overwhelmed. The Parent Education Review postings were a great help as I do not have ready access to these at home.
Primarily, the HEO subscription group has helped me to actually implement real-time studies into our home, moving with the Terms as they change. Our family has had a great amount of fun together, as a result. A lot of hard work has gone into the development of the plans, the uploading of fantastic online resource URL's and hard-to-find books ONLINE, and personal attention when users have had questions. This has to be the #1 Charlotte Mason help for "high school" students besides Charlotte Mason's own books. It is the next thing to actually being there!
Tamara Willey, FL
AmblesideOnline is in the 'business,' if we can call it that, of writing curriculum and making it available free on the internet. We look for the best Charlotte Mason compatible books we can find that are either in print or in public domain (thus available online). We offer support through this list, our articles, and our website. We have worked together to put several public domain resources online so everybody could benefit from them. We have never sold our curriculum. This summer we are having a homeschool conference, and that marks the first time in our history that we have charged anybody for anything we provide (we needed to pay for our plane fare to do the conference).
We do list several sources for AmblesideOnline materials on the website, and you can purchase resources from those businesses, benefiting them financially, although we won't receive anything from those referrals (which means we have no temptation to recommend something beneath our standards because we might benefit from that recommendation).
There's an old saying about how some things are so rare they 'can't be had for love nor money.' AmblesideOnline is truly unique because it can't be had for money. It is a gift of love, love of Charlotte Mason's teachings and philosophy, and love for our fellow homeschoolers trying to implement her ideas in the 21st century.
We have been richly blessed by Charlotte Mason's ideas, and we believe in sharing. As Charlotte Mason said, "No gain that I experience must remain unshared."- (volume 6)
After a year of using a workbook type of program, I was dismayed that at the end of the year my son had not retained the knowledge. Thus, my search for a new curriculum.
What first impressed me with the AmblesideOnline curriculum was the booklist of classic literature. Wow! Books I'd wanted to read for years . . . with schedules! What fun that would be! Then I signed onto the discussion group and these people actually kept up ongoing, active discussions of how to use these books.
So I tried it. At first the 'heavier' books were slow reading for my then 6 yo son. In fact, we spent two years on Year One. But as time went on and he became familiar with the language, he loved it! He now begs for me to read more than one chapter a week from Pilgrim's Progress! And just as important as his love of the literature is that at the end of the year I can ask him about something he learned earlier in the year - and he remembers it! . . . most of the time :) . . .
Sheila in TX
I would like to share with you some of my first year with AmblesideOnline. It feels like it's been more than a year! Here is part of my story.
My daughter (age 11) was showing difficulty in the area of language, so I took her to a pediatric therapist at the end of our 4th year of homeschooling in 2001 for some detailed testing. We tested IQ and the whole nine yards.
My dd's test results with the therapist showed a learning disability. Her test scores ranged from second grade level abilities to that of a 30 year old! Yikes! What to do? Such a huge gap. She is dyslexic and has an extreme problem decoding words. The therapist suggested I go home and "throw out" all the workbooks I was using and find something else. My friend Leslie Noelani suggested I try AmblesideOnline.
I began using AmblesideOnline at the beginning of the school term 2001. It was hard to decide where to start. I choose Year 4 - and a couple of months into it, I realized that was not going to work. I was confused about what to do. I looked over Year 3 and saw a lot of great stuff there! So I began combining the two years, bit by bit, and used my Saxon Math and A Beka Language (6th grade level but both at a slower pace).
I often felt like I was failing. I knew I was struggling. I couldn't really tell anything about any kind of results. Sometimes I felt good about what I saw, but felt I had nothing to compare it to so I really didn't know. My dd seemed fine all year; I was the uncertain party.
Yesterday I received the Iowa Basic Skills test results for this year (the tests were done in April 2002) - after less than one full year of a *mixed together* AmblesideOnline - her core test scores are up two full grade levels. This is on the timed tests, which does not reflect the true results of a child with her disabilities, but this is exciting! In Language 'Usage and Expression', she progressed from a level of 4.7 last year to 9.9 this year - and after less than a year of AmblesideOnline!
We will be doing more detailed testing with her therapist tomorrow.
I cannot tell you how often I felt discouraged through the year. I would read the emails here, and go back and forth with my feelings of being so unsure on some days about what I was doing. But we hung in there and Leslie keep encouraging me (she listened to my whining and my worrying and sent me particular posts that she thought might encourage me.)
I realize that in using AmblesideOnline, I will probably have to continue to combine the years, but good results are not lost because of that.
I just had to let you all know that I have been trying to do AmblesideOnline for about two years now. My dd is 9 and has had reading problems due to her eyes not processing correctly. We had to put her in eye therapy for about 9 months and then we have been doing brain integration exercises as taught by Dianne Craft. I completed most of year one last year but it was frustrating because of all the problems my daughter was experiencing with her eyes (the curriculum is great we just reached our limit). This year I didn't complete very much of year 2. I love Charlotte Mason method but I was getting a little worried at this point. I wasn't sure my daughter was really doing "school"
Anyhoo to get to the point of my story--we really just took it easy this year trying to enjoy homeschooling again and really trying to get my dd to read on grade level (3rd grade). When we started this year she was reading at about 1st grade and not very good at that. Colorado has a law that you must be tested at the end of 3rd grade so I have been so nervous and scared at what the outcome was going to be when she was tested. So I read some of the books to her from AmblesideOnline and some from the Five in a Row curriculum. We did handwriting and math but that is about it. Well, I had her evaluated by a lady who does these sorts of things, and my daughter passed with flying colors! I about fell off my chair. She wanted a writing sample from my daughter and I was worried because I haven't made my daughter write out any narrations (just telling them to me) since Charlotte Mason didn't require them until the children were ten years old. She wrote four or five sentences about a book we had read and the evaluator thought she did really well! Her spelling wasn't that good but her thoughts were well organized! YEAH!
Well I am a complete believer now in Charlotte Mason. I have always liked it but I was a textbook, true/false, fill-in-the-blank kind of a person and it has been hard thinking "is this really all I have to do for school?" I hope this is an encouragement to all who wonder like me-is my child really doing "real" school. I have my answer - YES!
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