Monday, July 27, 2015

Considering Ambleside Online....

I'm officially in homeschool planning mode!!  Oh, I've been dabbling off and on since spring, but this past Saturday, I attended a Homeschool Planning Retreat.  It was so fun to connect with other homeschooling moms to talk curriculum and scheduling and it was just what I needed to jump start more deliberate planning.

As my study of Charlotte Mason's writing deepens, I've been looking more seriously at Ambleside Online.  I've used parts of Ambleside over the past couple of years, but haven't been diligent in using the plans whole hog.  Primarily because I really want to finish our first full history rotation as a family,   I remember initially, Ambleside totally overwhelmed me.  However, as I go forward, I really like the look of Ambleside, particularly in the upper years.

Last year, I used parts of Year 5 with RileyAnn and parts of the lower years with Ruben, kind of as a test run.  This fall, I plan to continue with Term 3 of Year 5 and Term 1 of Year 6, particularly the history portion, along with the biographies, for Riley because they align with our history time period, Civil War to Modern. (BTW, she'll be in 6th grade!)

At this point, my thought is to use the last two terms of Year 6 in her 7th grade year, along with other odds and ends, and then proceed from there...

Year 7 - 8th grade
Year 8 - 9th grade
Year 9 - 10th grade
Year 10 - 11th grade
Year 11 - 12th grade

This would give Riley another full history rotation from 7th -12th grade, using AO Years 6-11.  Year 12 of AO is an overview and I'm really not worried about her finishing high school in AO Year 12.  I figure I can pull a few books from it and plug them in here and there. 

I've also been looking at the Pre-Year 7, in which the Ambleside Advisory Board recommends reading certain books before starting in the regular Year 7 or any of the upper levels.  I want time to work toward accomplishing this so Riley would be ready for Year 7 as written.

I've read many reviews and things online regarding Ambleside and they tout the rigor of Ambleside Online.  Most will tell you the upper levels don't necessarily correspond with grade level....unless maybe if you've been using Ambleside all the way through.  As a matter of fact, it's been said that some of the upper levels correspond with today's colleges! 

One thing that bugs me a little about AO is every student works at a different level.  Since I have children close in age, I like to combine as many subjects as possible, especially in the lower grades.  However, as our kids mature, Charlotte advocated educational independence.  She suggested somewhere around 4th/5th grade, the student should be reading their own books.  Personally, I've noticed with the girls, 4th-6th grade being major transition years so I think aiming for complete independence by middle school is a good goal with average or above ability students. Although, I'm not yet sure what direction I'll head with Ruben.  I believe the upper levels of Ambleside literature will be too difficult for him to read independently due to his dyslexia.  Audio technology may be an option.  I'm still up in the air on this one.  

Are you currently using Ambleside Online?  Have you modified it in any way?  I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments below. 


  1. I've looked at AO a lot in the past, but I just feel overwhelmed by it! You make a good point in why we should check it out, though. Thanks!

  2. You're welcome the beginning, I was also totally overwhelmed by AO. However, more recently, every time I look at it, I love it more! As my kids get older and become independent in their learning, AO seems more manageable because they can do much of the reading/work on their own. In addition, as I gain experience in homeschooling, I'm much more confident in knowing what may or may not work. I also know that I can stray from the plan if necessary, adapting things to each child's needs, and it will all come out in the wash. This confidence allows me the ability to relax, let go, let God, and let live. May God grant you peace in your homeschool planning.


  3. Melissa,
    I've been revisiting your posts. I know that you have not yet decided to go full board with Ambleside. I'm curious if you'd share why you decided to continue in the direction of BF. We are currently using the BF Modern America and World Intermediate and I was set (maybe I still am) to use BF Ancients HOWEVER I have dabbled with AO over the years and am again dabbling with the idea of moving my older children in the AO direction. At first I didn't take the jump because of fear (back when my kids were in 1st and 2nd grade and the beginning of this last school year). They still remember the books and stories from our dabbling. I've long liked the upper years of AO and have been collecting books for the upper years. I would personally like more Ancients in AO yr 6 so I've been looking at modifying YR 6 and then taking the full fledge plunge in yr 7 (my kids would be 7th and 8th at that point) although I am torn because I DO like BF Medieval Intermediate (it is a nice guide!!!). I don't care for the guide scheduled after medieval intermediate and don't know that I see us continuing with BF long-term but can see continuing with AO long term. I've taken to rambling now. Sometimes thoughts just need to be typed/written out. Sorry!!

  4. Hey Tami,

    One reason, I haven't jumped with both feet into AO is because of their history rotation and the inability to combine kids. I want to study history chronologically, with both of them in the same time period. Given my children's learning differences, this would be difficult for our family in AO. However, I love their book choices and find them to be a wonderful supplement. Our dd has pretty much completed many of the readings in AO Years 4, 5, & 6. However, I have rearranged them to fit our schedule. I also love the look of the upper levels and have been seriously contemplating what to do in the fall.

    With that said, I like BF for a variety of reasons. One being, I can pick the guide and plug my kids into whatever time period I want. Another being, BF's fabulous book choices. And, yet a third reason is the guide itself. What I mean is, I like the suggested questions, map work, copy work, timeline, etc. Notice I said, "suggested". I don't use any program as written, but instead modify it for my family's needs. I love the flexibility that BF allows me in doing so. Another bonus, is the price. I find BF guides very affordable compared to other programs.

    Something I've been thinking a great deal about lately is principles vs. practices. I think it's important to have a sound foundation in the principles or your philosophy of education. This will help to guide your practices and/or curriculum choices.

    Hopefully this is helpful.