All posts are included here with permission from their respective authors.
I first found out about AO when I went to a local CM park day in India. I met 5 moms who were all tribal background who only had English as their shared language as they were from different parts of India. I had read a lot on CM for years, my mother-in-law wrote Sonlight curriculum for her family when she was overseas years ago and she had tried to write Sonlight as a bridge between CM and public school as that was back in the 80s when homeschooling was more "risky." I had done Sonlight preschool and knew it did not fit CM closely enough for me. Well, I went to this CM park day expecting to learn what curriculum they were using. The leader was using AO at the time and the other families were as well, their Church had some Sonlight books and they used the overlap and then Kindle for the rest. I was blown away by how much their children knew. One even quoted Shakespeare. None of these children were headed for America and AO still worked for them. I decided to try AO and it was a much slower pace than what I do naturally and it worked beautifully while we moved countries and States on top of all the health crises we have been through. I have never searched other curriculum because I love the path we are on.
AO is timeless and travel friendly and saves so much time compared to every curriculum I have seen others implement. I have learned more from our family AO read aloud time than I ever expected. Plus it is a curriculum true to CM's desire for a free education for every child. Removing all barriers for children to get to experience the best man has to offer in a way that lets them form the relationship for themselves. I started it with no prep (other than my years reading CM) and on a whim and was able to implement it well, no other curriculum has so low a barrier to making quality education as accessible. I can suggest AO to any family who loves CM all over the world and know they can make it work and that it will bless them without being a financial burden. There is no other curriculum in the world like that other than AO. Also I went to an AO conference and met the AO women behind the curriculum and they were wiser, smarter and more knowledgeable than me so I trust them and feel like it is a huge privilege that my children get to benefit from their minds and the work of their hands. Plus all their work frees me up to cuddle with my children more.
When I first came across AO, I thought it couldn't work for me. The website was hard to navigate, it seemed outdated, and I quickly tossed it aside.
A few years later I came across it again, and it was love at first sight! I knew it was for us, so I resolved to figure out how to do AO. I remember taking two weeks to read everything I could. I familiarized myself with the website, and couldn't believe how beautiful a CM education (AO specifically) could be! Then we jumped into Y4!
Unfortunately, my oldest was already in 4th grade, so he missed out on Yr1-Yr3. He has since read some of the selections he missed out on.
I remember reading this from the screenshot*, and wondered if it would happen to me/us. After the huge gaps in my own education, I felt I wasn't CM/learned enough. Well, it happened! We saw our first organic reference to Damocles! Even my current Yr8 student was excited. He remembered right off the bat, my Yr1 needed a quick reminder. Now our eyes and ears are perked up!
* The screenshot refers to a footnote in Year 1 that says, "These tales . . . show up in many other readings (and in media sources as well) for the rest of your child's life. There will be references that allude to the Sword of Damocles. If you do not know the stories, you miss those references and so some nuances are lost."
This is my first year using AO. We just finished our first term . . . and I have to say THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! My oldest (6th grade) is actually enjoying school again. We are both so much happier!!
My oldest is Year 9. Today he was narrating about a chapter from Are You Liberal Conservative, or Confused, and he made an amazing connection between the economic topic, the dwarf king in The Hobbit, and the Arkenstone. That led us to the Bible and the love of money being the root of all evil. I love when they remember things from previous years and make these connections. I needed that reminder that this is why we are home schooling. Thanks AO for all the hard work on this curriculum. Wonderful!
We're only on Week 2 of Year 1, but I need to gush about this curriculum for a minute.
Some of you might remember my post earlier this year about whether my son was ready for Year 1. He has high functioning ASD and it's not always easy to tell his level of receptive language. I was worried about the narration aspect and the material being over his head, but he'll be 7 in December and we had already read all the Year 0 books and had just started reading. Based on your input, we decided to plunge ahead into Year 1.
Looking back at these first two weeks I just want to cry with gratitude. My son has fallen in love with Mozart and asks for "number 20" on repeat. He carries his nature journal proudly around and has shown everyone who enters our house his entry on the seeds we grew. After reading Fifty Famous Stories I caught him drawing a man with a sword hanging over his head! He shocked us with his narration of "A Laconic Answer" (which is one of my military husband's favorite stories): "They sent a message. It said If. The Spartans sent it." (!) That's from a kid who rarely shares details about anything at all, let alone a story without pictures! When my husband heard that narration, he hugged me and thanked me for finding this curriculum and for giving our son the gift of the education that he always wanted as a kid but didn't get.
To all of you who put this beautiful curriculum together and those who encouraged us to jump in: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
We just finished The Incredible Journey, and I must say I am lamenting my public "gifted" education. The vocabulary and story are so rich, unlike anything I grew up with, even in state university for my Elem Ed degree. Praise the Lord I found CM and AmblesideOnline to expose my children to this truly beautiful education of rich literature! Thank you to all those who have compiled these lists of great literature.
A blog review of AmblesideOnline's Year 7 and 8 Science at Reflections from Drywood Creek, July 2019.
It's been a long time since I've said thank you to the ladies behind this wonderful curriculum. What you do for families everywhere is more than amazing. I can't express how grateful I am to have people with more knowledge and more experience in this area not only share these yearly schedules and plans with me, but you do it for free. It's simply amazing and I am so very grateful! Miss Mason believed in an education for all, and you help make that possible. Thank you!
The following are responses to a question posted in our Facebook group in February 2019 asking "what made you chose AmblesideOnline?" * Responses, as with all of our comments posted here, are posted with permission from their authors.
- It was free.
- It was very cheap to start/try out because so many books were available free on kindle or at library while I decided if AO was a good fit.
- Also everything was all mapped out for me. I was going to piece things together myself, but AO did it for me. And they didn't charge a consultation fee and weren't trying to make money off of me.
- Also tons of great support on the forum.
- The simplicity of it all.
-- Michelle Young
I see many parents starting out comparing the early years of different curricula, which, frankly, can look quite similar. I think AO distinguishes itself with the depth of books and the flexibility provided in the upper years to provide a rich liberal arts education to a child who wants to pursue any vocation. My two oldest, finishing years 9 and 10, love the arts, read history books for fun, write amazingly well, and plan to pursue medical careers. I think AO does a great job of providing delightful options for older ages when the love of learning might have been fizzled out.
-- Melissa McMahan
It's free and a weekly schedule has already been created. We were going to use some of the history and geography books anyway, and I didn't have a plan for literature, so I figured: Why not give it a try? It's also the education I wish I had. Learning to read wonderful books, and understanding them (like Shakespeare!)! The online presence is also very helpful. I always get lots of responses to my questions.
-- Amanda L Thero
First because it was free. I didn't actually know a thing about CM, just that I needed a program and it was free. But the more I learned and understood, the better I just loved the program. We love the books, the set up, the ease and the help when I don't understand something. I can take the weekly schedule and adjust it for my week as needed. I can check out the forum for information when needed. It's a wonderful program.
-- Christina Sash
My mom used AO for me and my brothers. I started using another CM based curriculum and liked it but kept remembering the delightful AO selections and found myself replacing the other curriculums choices with AO selections so I stopped fighting it and came back to my roots. haha
-- Clarissa Leigh Hill
I started using AO because it was free and super organized. I needed my hand held a little when I first learned about CM and I appreciate it so much. We make modifications here and there and I love how AO gives alternatives to things as well so you can truly make the curriculum your own. I love the support also! So that's why I'm here.
-- Hannah Sylvester
At first it was because it was free. Completely laid out for free! And, many of the books were free to use as well.
But as we've been using this off and on for a few years now I've always come back to it and sworn to never leave again. It is a wonderful curriculum. I can switch out anything I can't afford or don't like for whatever reason, just like with any other curriculum. But what I absolutely adore about this, is that the Advisory took so much care, and paid close attention to detail when laying this out. And you can find Advisory members on the Forum, in the Facebook group answering questions. For a free curriculum! And when you read their answers, they are so well thought out. You can tell this was not haphazardly put together. You can tell they are passionate about this curriculum, and about it being true to Charlotte Mason.
The longer we use it, the more I love it. The longer we use it, the more I appreciate the amount of time, thought, and love that went in to putting it together. It's absolutely mind-blowing.
-- Sonita Lewis
I've agree with Sonita above. Want more diversity? Switch out a book. Prefer a different spine? Switch out a book. I'm currently receiving the education I always craved. I'm tempted to be embarrassed, but half the reason we home educate is because I wanted to go back to school. "I really believe that a curious mother and a library card can offer a stellar education." - Ann Voskamp. I also love their passion that this education is for all. It's not only for those who can pose pretty instagram pictures, afford hand made wooden letters, who enjoy crafting idyllic nature experiences - it's also for those scraping by on $400 a week, dreaming of a family who converses in quotes from old friends in books, who can reason, think and converse in ways that will carry them through their lives with dignity and creativity - no matter their profession. There's no place for elitism here, the feast is for all. I'm obviously sold!
-- Christina Circle Gavenda
The community, the books, it's free and it's very well planned! As overwhelmed as I was with trying to understand this method and lifestyle (sometimes I still am), I found the AO community very welcoming and immensely helpful! I also love that the Auxiliary and Advisory members are "in the trenches" and active on this page and the forum.
-- Sarah A Allen
After trying a couple other programs, I came to AO. . . and this group has been AMAZING to help. I needed to "see" how to implement AO. This FB group has helped me tremendously. . . . and the forum helps as well. The website looks daunting, but watching some videos online about "how to" and joining the Facebook group made everything very simple to implement. Simple. . . not necessarily easy. :) But homeschooling isn't easy for anyone.
-- Pam DeArmon
The schedule. I was in desperate need for something to change in our homeschooling days. I had been so overwhelmed by looking at them and it looking like SO much. But I downloaded it in excel, and started removing entire sections to make it bare-boned for term one to get us started. I collected the books I would need, and all of a sudden I could see how it looked like so much work, because someone else had already done all of that work. I just had to follow it. I couldn't believe my luck. It was there, it was comprehensive, it was free, AND there was this awesome FB group PLUS the forum to get all of my questions answered. I found other support as well from people who just pull from AO or who have completely changed it to meet their families needs.
-- Sara Beamish
How I started. . . I've always loved CM but felt I could never do something like AO. Then one night I went lurking into the AO website looking for ideas for a morning basket. I stayed up until 2 am reading through it, that's when I realized I could do it! It's not as scary as I had thought! We started one year ago and love it!
-- Tassia Oliphant
As someone who spent several years doing "other" stuff (all full of lovely living books but not especially CM in nature) I finally came crawling back to AO. Yes, I'd tried Year 1 and walked away when I got overwhelmed. When we later hit a rough spot in our homeschool, I finally realized, it was our situation at the time, and not the curriculum, that made it overwhelming back then.
We are lucky to be in a position where cost is not an issue when choosing curriculum for our family, but the fact that it is given freely speaks volumes. Also, looking at where curriculum would take my kids in the middle school and high school years was a deciding factor. AO is so rich!
Once we truly got started, it was just all the little things that has kept me here. The schedule is flexible and easy to personalize for each individual child. The wealth of knowledge and support here and on the forum is unbelievable. The connections they are making are becoming more apparent the longer we stick with it. Also, it's the education I would have wanted as a child. I feel like, even as an avid reader, I missed out on so much, and I would hate for my children to look back and feel the same way!
-- Brittney Jordan Rutherford
It's free, the forum and Facebook files are a HUGE wealth of information . . . and I've found most of the beginning books very cheap! I've spent $256 building our Year 1 and Year 2 library . . . and knowing I have 3 kids going to use it all, I find that to be a great price! We are winding down Year 1, so I pulled up my Year 2 list . . . I need TWO "core" books for next fall, I'm so happy with my book scouring habit, haha! . . . and I told my husband I swapped Starbucks for buying used books and he is MUCH happier with that addiction, lol!!
-- Andrea Lyons Sooter
After 7 years of AO and CM lifestyle (always a work in progress, of course), my oldest is self motivated and independent with nearly all of his readings. He is capable of success, even in subjects he does not enjoy. He knows more history and science off the top of his head than I ever have. The connections he finds in his books and with daily life are endless, and his belief in God and the salvation message is strong. These are things I anticipated and hoped for when first perusing the AO website 8 years ago, and I have not been disappointed. I am currently appreciative of the constant additions of outside links and helps that I am finding all over the website to enhance our experience with these wonderful texts.
-- Emily Waasdorp
It is redeeming my education that was so lacking in beautiful literature. I am really seeing how the beautiful narratives are pointing me and my family to truth, goodness, and beauty daily in a world around us that feels so void of those things! First and foremost teaching virtue and wisdom and second education, the books and curriculum do this so beautifully.
-- Leigh Anne Chamberlayne
The upper years. We loved AO's plan for history, literature, and government in the upper years, and decided if that's where we'd like to end up we might as well start with AO rather than starting with something else and trying to switch in at year 7.
There are a lot more CM curricula around now than I was aware of when we were researching options 8 years ago - some new, and some I just didn't know about. If I were picking now, I'd probably take a closer look at some of them, but we love AO and I have no desire to switch so I haven't looked around too much.
-- Amanda Anzalone Lewis
I tried another one,which had the children all in the same history time, but it was too hard on the young ones. Besides, the 6 year history rotation from AO is superb. AO was my first choice from the beginning. . . .
-- Friederike Lehrbass
I think it's the gold standard.
-- Anne Phillips
The Advisory has an amazing understanding of CM and her methods. They don't put their interpretations into the curriculum, just Charlotte Mason's.
I found other places put a little bit of their own spin on things.
Another thing I love is that they want you to learn CM's methods, and not just use the curriculum. And isn't that really how you get a CM education? By letting it spill into all areas of your life.
-- Kathryn Renner Duvall
I've seen a lot of people say they hate navigating the website but for me that's what caught my eye with AO. I loved the organization of the website. I still look around at other CM curriculum and just get lost in figuring out how to put it together. there's a lot of "choose this and then this" with other websites. AmblesideOnline is just click year 1, buy the books, follow the weekly schedule, add or delete anything you need to. All of the subjects are included right on the year outline. Even math you are given CM suggestions. I loved that.
Another bonus was the Charlotte Mason books all written out and free!
Everytime I feel discouraged I go looking for other CM options but I always end up falling back in love with AO because of its set up and history stream makes sense. Rolling my eyes or shaking my head at other curriculums and then going back to the AO website with relief thinking, "why do I ever doubt you".
-- Randie Nichols
I like the website as well. It isn't flashy with images everywhere to catch the eye. It is very dense with text. I feel like that reflects the skills it instills. I want my children to be able to decode text, not just look for the flashy photos. Most websites seemed to be designed for the user with a short attention span to do as little reading as possible.
-- Heather-Lei Ambos
Just wanted to thank you wonderful ladies who made AmblesideOnline. Because of this my kids have learned so much and I'm not afraid to read things that I don't agree with or believe. It's really stretched my thinking. Thank you again!
I thank the ladies who spend their time on the website, book lists, curriculums. I always thought homeschooling was more like "traditional" schooling. AO just feels so right. I love it. So yes THANK YOU!!!!!
Allison Morosini (in response to Laurel's comment above)
I have been interested in educating my children with a Charlotte Mason philosophy since my oldest was tiny. I went from "early-brightest-baby-genius" to "relax-let-them-be-children" in his first few years. I am so thankful for finding AmblesideOnline and the great riches of books and people who give so much so freely. I wanted to say thank you and share how our first year went, not just for my student, but for me as teacher-mom.
I started out thinking we would skip the myths/fairy tales in the young years. We did year 1 skipping some AIS [An Island Story] and doing the alternate Fairy tales and skipping a few Just So Stories. It was wonderfully rich, lovely and peaceful. All the things I didn't know "school" could be. I kept researching and reading threads about the why of fairy tales and myths and slowly started adding them in. The main thing I got from the "mothers who have gone before me" is that they didn't do certain things with the first child, but did with the 2nd or 4th and wish they would have just done it from the beginning.
The first time I read the Velveteen Rabbit I glossed over the fairy. My son loved the book so much he wanted me to read Velveteen Rabbit #2 - about the rabbits in the woods once he is real (when I told him there wasn't one, he told me to write it). He then listened to it over and over on Librivox, of course with the fairy. Nothing terrible happened. He didn't think it was real, he didn't become a fairy. I'm not sure what my fear was. So I decided to do an experiment and let him listen to Pinocchio. We didn't own it and I knew if I was reading it, it may never get done. He finished it in about a week, quite a few chapters a day. It is his other favorite book. So, we tried Peter Pan (another I was on the fence about) and he got to Ch. 5 and said it was too scary. I let him decide what he could handle and he was able to say "this isn't for me."
While going through Year 1 with my 6 year old, my then 4 year old daughter listened in on some books through the year and loved the Just So Stories and completely memorized 'How the Whale Got His Throat.' They have now listened to ALL the stories over and over.
I tried to do a light Year 7 for myself a few years ago, but couldn't comprehend the time period (Birth of Britain was impossible and Ivanhoe had no where to hang, nothing to relate it to). I read some books from Years 4-6 instead (Oliver Twist, Robinson Crusoe, and some free reads). Then this past winter/spring I decided to do some from 9/10 being a little more familiar with the time period. While reading Rob Roy I could feel my reading ability growing. At the beginning I could barely read the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. By a 3rd of the way in I started looking forward to them because they were what the chapter would be about. It quickly became one of my favorite books, but also a book that stretched me. I now not only understand, but actually have experienced the reason for the difficult books in each year.
While planning for Year 2, I had less I felt I needed to skip, but had a hard time with An Island Story. I had no familiarity with the time period and kept searching for a replacement. Every post about how hard it was said "Just Read it, it will get easier". So, I decided to go back to Year 7 again, now that I have the experience of the stretching literature from 4-6, and a little of 9/10. I am lining up Birth of Britain with An Island Story and am now enjoying it and actually able to comprehend what I am reading. I started in Ch 9, because that is where Year 2 starts. I plan to read Ch. 1-9 next year when my daughter is in Year 1 - actually reading all of AIS [Island Story] (because I will finally understand it). I have restarted Ivanhoe, added in Age of Chivalry and more Literature.
That was a really long way to say - Read the books and Thank you!
We just wrapped up year one, and I was definitely a bit daunted in the beginning! There was so much vocabulary and so many heavy, sometimes archaic concepts. I couldn't believe my two first graders were really going to be able to understand and learn from such challenging material! Still, we persisted despite not understanding everything, and guess what? My kids have grown so much, I've grown so much, and they don't even want to take a summer break because they don't want to stop doing school! It's worth it! My three year old is running around singing in French right now. I would never have dreamed what my kids were capable of without AmblesideOnline.
Nevermind the sweet education of my children. . . I am plenty thankful for that.
But AmblesideOnline. . . I am MORE thankful for the education of my own heart and mind you are giving to me. I had NO idea that I would find a forever friend in the poems of Emily Dickinson. I had NO idea that any poetry would speak to my heart. How have I walked this earth for almost 33 years without poetry? It makes me want to cry. . . tears of mourning for years lost, but also tears of joy for the years to come.
I am forever thankful for AO. I wasn't ready for this 4 years ago when I first found this resource. . . but it seems, I have been starved for knowledge long enough and now I cannot get enough!!
So I decided to start pre-reading my children's books today. We are new to AO and coming from other curricula that labels their various literature as living and CM. But can I just say, the books AO has chosen are so much more captivating and interesting for my mind than most books I've read to my kids in my last six years as a homeschool mom? We are still transitioning and I'm having my older son finish up one of the history books from our previous plans. I was pre reading his chapters for the week and thinking, "oh man. I could never narrate this . . . It's so boring!" I then picked up another book that my other son is reading from AO this week and had such an experience reading it! I felt like I laughed and got angry WITH the author and I could totally narrate what I read if I had anyone narrate to. Actually I did try to narrate to my husband but three AO readings later, he is annoyed with me and just wants to finish watching his show hahaha!!
Thanks you so much to the AO advisory for all the work you have done in finding these books. How many minds have these books awakened? How many souls have they touched? I am eternally grateful to you. I have been disappointed in my own education for years and I'm thrilled to get a new one alongside my children and I'm so excited for my children!!
We officially finished the exams for Year 2 Term 1 and Year 5 Term 1. Kids gave them to my husband and he was blown away by what the kids are learning and the finite detail that my older son can give on the readings. He said this is college level! I can see the effect on my older, and little bits of it in my younger. This will be their second year with AmblesideOnline. Love this curriculum and method of teaching. It takes a while to see the fruit, but once you do you never want to go back to the twaddle and busy work!!! Thank you to all who have given their time so graciously to this endeavor. God Bless You!
So glad that after 20 years of homeschooling, we have jumped into the AmblesideOnline Pool headfirst. It took me many years to make that decision after lurking the AO website for so long . . . I think it's middle age that finally made me do it! LOL
Now that we are almost half way through the school year, we are seeing so many learning connections with the AO plan.
How cool that we can read science and history items and connect them to our literature selections! I get so excited when these type of "eureka" moments happen for us during our school times.
As a veteran homeschooler of 7 sons and 1 daughter (5 children at home), I want to assure you that if you trust the process and the CM principles, you will see results. Your school year will not be wasted if you follow the plan . . . however, you must tweak it to your family's needs. If you get too wrapped up in the details you will burn yourself out the first week.
I would also tell you that it is important to try the plan for one year. There are so many adjustments and transitions made when trying something new, and time is usually the factor that will make you decide if AO is the best.
Personally, I try to use one level for multiple students. It saves me work and TIME. Do as much as you can together. I cut down the literature for my sons so they don't get overwhelmed.
It's been a great ride for us so far!
Just to give you an idea on how our family does AO, here is our schedule (we follow this loosely):
Phonics/Math/Read Aloud for my 8 year old
Group Time (Bible, Poetry, Literature Read Aloud, Civics-1 day per week, and Fridays we do Shakespeare, Art/picture study, folk song, nature walk, etc).
I am probably forgetting something, but just wanted to give you and idea of what we do.
The biggest success that we have had is the CM "short lessons" and "habits" principles. It's amazing how doing a little consistently over time will get so much done and build on the knowledge my children have. It's been crazy amazing.
Today we are reading the final chapter of Understood Betsy and I am beyond excited to read this last chapter. I haven't read ahead so my daughter and I can experience the book together, but it has been hard to stop myself from finishing this in one sitting.
I love AO, and not just for my kids. I love AO for myself and the education that I am getting and the books that I am reading for the first time. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the advisory for this gift. It is truly a feast.
Lee Ann Nicholson Donaldson
My 10 year old daughter tries to hurry through school and is always asking if we are done. This is our first year with AO. Today she cried because we stopped half way through Lamb's Shakespeare "As You Like It." I'm loving AO, but I am so happy that she is finally enjoying school!
I used to believe that my intelligence wasn't in "school" stuff. I had such a hard time in school! I was drawn to rich literature, I loved nature and discovery, I loved experiencing things. I was smart at that, but not school. Thank you AO for spreading the message of CM, for providing an incredible free curriculum and free resources to people like me. Thank you for showing a mom that the educational system was broken, not her. Thank you for giving me the tools to let my children be everything they can be.
Digging through the AO Articles and blog posts came across this gem which the Advisory recommends. A FREE Grammar Curriculum (KISS). It's one of the best I've come across in my search for Grammar. For being free, this is one amazing curriculum. Thank you Advisory for how much you care to put out very high quality and affordable (or free) education.
Thank you for helping in this wonderful journey of homeschooling! I just started AO and it's by far the best of our 10 years! Wish I had had the courage to try it years ago.
We have been following AO since my 14 year old was a toddler. We just finished our 4th week of Year 9. As my son is reading about the lives of Ben Franklin, George Washington, the Salem witch trials, the making of the U.S. Constitution, etc., after having spent time in Year 8 with Elizabeth, the Jameses, the Charleses, and Cromwell, and before that, the Lancasters and Yorks, bad King John and his Magna Carta, etc., I am reminded of why we start with British History. You understand the Washington family of Virginia's ancestry if you know who the Cavaliers were. How weird it would be to read about the colonists grieving against George III if you didn't know the history about the monarchy of Britain.
I know the question comes up often about why start with British History (for those on the North American continent). Being on this side of it (now going through the American revolution for the second time in the AO cycle), it's crystal-clear why. Trust it, American AO users.
Madam How and Lady Why - an earth science book by Charles Kingsley that we are reading in AO Yr 4. It's a pretty tough read.
About a month ago we slogged through the bit on the power of water to shape the earth. Narrations were good. Sequencing and connection with ideas was clear. Move on.
Today we walked where we always walk, on a path we often pass. But today, out of the blue, with no conversation since that last narration, came: "Hey look mum! The rain we've been having has carved out these mini canyons and gullies like in that book about Madam How. Water can be so powerful! Even just a bit of rain does that!"
Goal achieved: personal connection made. Foundation for all future learning is extended.
Folks THIS is real education. "Its not about how much a child knows, but about how much he cares, and about how many orders of things he cares." This kid will carry a lifelong understanding of the power of water that can be applied into numerous situations. I just love watching kids learn! Heck! I love learning myself!
My son has ALWAYS been a challenge; however, we hit rock-bottom in our homeschooling 3yrs ago. I almost threw in the towel. Out of desperation we did 2 yrs of Classical Conversations. CC was great, until it wasn't; it became increasingly obvious that the upper years were NOT a going to be a good fit for this guy. Last fall we tried just one more yr of their Language Arts program, because he is a fantastic writer. We made it 6 wks. And those 6wks were torture -- he can't stand the structure. So I tried to recreate classical, as I knew it, at home. Ugh. Finally, in November I felt pulled, again, to AmblesideOnline. I've know about AO for years, but couldn't wrap my head around it; because life and 5yrs of pure chaos (seriously). So I spent Christmas break gathering books. In January, he complained that he "had nothing to read." I happily handed him this stack of books, for year 6. The look on his face. :-o I showed him the schedule. Explained to him narrations and written narrations. And I've basically let him set his own schedule. Today??? Today he finished!!! We had to take victory pictures :-D He has said, numerous times, that this is the best year of school he's done. He even told a friend, who still does CC, that he's glad that he doesn't have to do it anymore and that he really likes what he's doing now. I'm so thankful y'all. So thankful.
This past year, I started officially using AO for our homeschool, and I have been Blown Away by this amazing resource! In the past I browsed AmblesideOnline, but became overwhelmed by the website as a new homeschooling mama, and didn't give it another chance until this spring. I was initially overwhelmed, in part, because there is so much (valuable) information here!! I am thankful to God for this gracious provision for our family and I wanted to thank the Advisory and everyone else who makes this possible. I feel like I am seeing more and more CM-inspired "curriculum" popping up that you have to pay for, which is fine. But the fact that AO is FREE, is what amazes me even more. And it's the best, anyway. ;-)
My son, a freshman in college this year, called last night and part of the conversation was encouraging to me so I thought I would share here in case it encourages someone else!
We have always struggled in writing. I could write a book about our struggles, but I'll just leave it at that. It has always been our very worst subject.
My son is studying to be a missionary pilot and his first year is packed with Bible courses and . . . lots and lots of writing. Papers galore, lol. His writing teacher has four PHd's and, while holding high standards, is really a superb teacher (it's not his worst class amazingly). He told me last night that a few times people who have read his work have asked "you wrote this?" Also his grades are high so far. He told me that in spite of all our writing failures he really believes the AO books are what have done this. He specifically mentioned the Churchill books. "All that language is just in my head and comes out when I write". So thank you AmblesideOnline team! There are many other ways the books have changed us and helped us to think, grow and know God in better, higher ways. This was just a specific blessing I wanted to share.
I just sat down and read the Preface by Charles Kingsley of Madam How and Lady Why. Can I just say, "Wow!" If this is any indication of what Science will look like for us this year, I am beyond humbled and in awe that words written for children continue to remind me to open up my heart and eyes and ears to the world God's given us. Thank you Ambleside Team, the work you've done here is priceless!
We're just finishing up year 9 & LOVING AO!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you to the AO Ladies who made this curriculum possible!!!!!
Just a little testimonial for other chronic worriers:
Last summer, I told my husband that I loved this Charlotte Mason method and wanted to try it, but that our 2nd grader's standardized test scores could go down, as I've read that this type of education may take longer to "bear fruit." Well, we compared her Iowa test scores last night after our first year of AO, and the only thing that went down was capitalization! :-D She made great growth in all other areas. In fact, her GE reading comprehension went up almost two and a half years, without a single lesson on any reading strategy. (For a former public school reading teacher, this is a bit staggering!) A big thank you to those who created this beautiful curriculum, and to this supportive community who is encouraging to new members!
I would not have survived home schooling without AO and the hard work of the dedicated AO Advisory. Honestly, some of my best and most fond memories are of my days using AmblesideOnline! And, without AO, I certainly would not have had the preparation to do what I do today as an English professor. Thank you for your tireless efforts and your willingness to sacrifice your time to help home educators.
Why I Chose AmblesideOnline for My Homeschool - a blog post at "Roots and Books" from June 2017.
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 purchased 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 3rd 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 Christian 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 August 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!
All contributions, letters, posts and comments within the AmblesideOnline website are posted with the kind permission of their authors.