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    Making Ambleside Work: The Gory Details

    February 25, 2010 by Brandy Vencel

    Amazon links are affiliate links. I love it when you click on those…so thanks!

    I’m really looking into Ambleside Online and think it may be more appropriate for my children…

    I have NO idea how to implement AO, I mean none. I feel like I’ve read the website cover to cover, but have I missed some big page that gives me weekly ideas or instructions on how to gather materials and organize my day? How in the world do you do your lesson planning? From where do you get your ideas and material? I get a nervous knot in my stomach everytime I think about actually implementing and going day to day. I guess for me, AO sounds beautiful and majestic in theory, but actually doing it just befuddles me. I do have all 6 of CM original volumes and have read/skimmed most of it.

    Would you have pity on me and tell me…what am I missing????

    The above is a portion of an email I recently received. Let me tell you, I have been there. Seriously. Only, my difficulty was more generalized. When my children were very young {as in: not yet school age}, I knew there would come a day when I needed to begin giving lessons daily, and I had no–and I mean no–idea in how to actually pull that off.

    As a disclaimer, before I go on, I want you all to understand that I am not a complete and utter Charlotte Mason person. Our approach here is a fusion between Charlotte Mason’s philosophy and Christian classicism. The reason for this is actually pretty subjective: I love them both, and I think they are mostly complimentary rather than at odds, and it suits our family perfectly. I give the disclaimer, though, because I don’t want you to think that the advice I’m giving is 100% Charlotte Mason approved.

    It isn’t.

    Now, I haven’t read all of Mason’s volumes {yet…I own them and I read them from time to time}, but so far I don’t see anything about formal study of the entire Trivium, even though grammar is taught formally, and rhetoric seems to be taught almost intuitively. I love this, but I also plan to add in a couple text books, especially for logic. My plan is to use Martin Cothran’s Material Logic and Peter Kreeft’s Socratic Logic, but never to replace any part of Ambleside Online; rather as an addition to it. All of this is to say that, as the years go by, I will probably “look” more classical than I do now.


    For those of you who are unfamiliar with Charlotte Mason or Ambleside Online, I have a list of quick helps for you:

    1. Anne White’s An Introduction to Charlotte Mason. This is your best starting place if you have no clue what I’m talking about.
    2. If you are a big reader, then either get yourself a copy of Charlotte Mason’s six volumes or read it free on the Ambleside Online website in a modernized version. Do not try and print this out! Mason wrote thousands and thousands of pages over her very long life and you will rue the day you tried to print this.
    3. If you want something more manageable, I have heard good things about A Charlotte Mason Companion, A Charlotte Mason Education, For the Children’s Sake, or When Children Love to Learn. Just remember that whenever you read a book that isn’t an original source, you are getting someone’s perspective on that source, which may not be entirely the same thing. I haven’t read any of these because I prefer Mason’s own works, even though that means it’ll take me a lifetime to read them all. However, some folks find them very helpful, and you might be one of them.
    4. There are a number of websites that you could check out to try and form a vision for what you want in your own home. My favorites are listed here.
    5. There are also blogs that deal with specific aspects of Mason’s methods, such as nature study or art study. I understood the concept of nature study better after reading the blog Handbook of Nature Study, and I have also found the sister blog Harmony Art Mom occasionally helpful.

    Gathering Materials

    The number one easiest way to gather the materials for Ambleside Online would be to grab the booklist for the year you are doing and enter the titles on your favorite book-buying website, press “add to cart,” enter necessary information, and quietly wait for everything to be delivered to your front door. God bless that UPS man.


    Then, all you would need would be odds and ends, like something to use for a nature journal, some art supplies, and whatnot.

    For me, though I have running lists, and when I buy books I usually have four windows open with which I am price-checking. I also enter books for the coming years on my PBS wishlist from time to time, so that I can gather as many as possible as we go.

    But here are the important things to do when starting the early years:

    1. Start with the booklist{s} for the year{s} you are planning. You can find them using the links on Ambleside’s curriculum main page. This is the bulk of what you need to use the curriculum. I know that some families use the library for this. I like owning the books in general, and I have three other children who will use them, so they are worth the investment to me. I buy many of our books used. Please, I beg of you, do not buy any books published by a company called Wilder. These books are often abridged, even though they don’t declare it anywhere in their product information, and I have also read reviews complaining about the quality {i.e., typos, binding, etc.}.
    2. Print out your geography maps. I mentioned that I recently started using National Geographic Interactive MapMaker printable maps. Geography readings are from Holling C. Holling books in the early years, plus Marco Polo’s journeys in Year Three, though you really can map whatever you take interest in as you go.
    3. Choose something for penmanship/copywork. Two years ago, I bought a font so that I could type up copywork worksheets until the time when my children are ready for their own commonplace books or reading journals. You can also do a google search and find free copywork pages, though I don’t know if they’d last you a year.
    4. Choose a phonics program. Or, do it yourself using Bob Books. And, by the way, children don’t always need reading instruction. With strong readers, you can watch for weaknesses, but I wouldn’t subject a child to phonics unless they need it. Having the child read aloud to you will allow you to make sure they are not becoming a slipshod reader.
    5. Choose a math curriculum. For now, we use Math Mammoth plus Wrap-Ups.
    6. Choose a foreign language? I believe Mason suggested learning one French word per day or week or something in the early years. I don’t know; we didn’t start this until Year Two, and we are learning a tiny bit of Latin using Song School Latin and we’ve slacked on that lately, so writing this makes me feel guilty. Great.
    7. Choose a handicraft and buy/gather necessary supplies. We were going to do one per term, but we haven’t gotten far enough along and will probably use two terms for the ones we are currently working on. Here is a list of ideas for very young children. General ideas can be found here.
    8. Make a wall timeline. We didn’t do this in year one, but have really enjoyed it in year two. Ours was fairly inexpensive and easy to duplicate.
    9. Gather supplies for learning folksongs and hymns. Ambleside Online assigns a monthly hymn and folk song. I tend to choose other hymns because I have specific goals {like making sure the children first know the songs we sing in our congregation}. The Ambleside Online website often has links for the songs, and if not you can find what you need online, for free, using Google. In the past we have used YouTube to aid us in learning folk songs.
    10. Buy or download the music you need for each term’s composer. Ambleside’s composer section is here; one composer is assigned per term. I tend to just buy a CD from a composer and play it while the children are doing their chores or having quiet time, occasionally telling them the composer’s name. This works fine until your CD player breaks. Ask me how I know.
    11. Find and purchase or print copies of the paintings for artist study. Ambleside assigns one artist per term, and information about that can be found here. As a general rule, you will study one painting for two weeks, and then move on, so that by the end of the term, you will have studied six paintings from the single artist. I tend to find the paintings via Google, download them, turn them into a .pdf file, and have them printed nicely by Office Depot. Olga’s Gallery is a good place to look for paintings.
    12. Buy a nature journal and necessary supplies. You can use whatever medium you like. My oldest just began watercolor pencils for this; my second child uses crayons or colored pencils to color what I draw for her.

    This is all you need in the early years. As the years go on, you are supposed to add in study of a musical instrument, lessons on Plutarch and Shakespeare, a foreign language in addition to Latin, formal grammar, and so on, but this list will get you through the first few years, I think.

    Planning a Daily Schedule

    Ambleside Online will tell you what you need to do in a week, but the day-to-day is up to each individual headmistress. I cannot tell you how everyone plans, but I can tell you what I do.

    To begin with: Circle Time.

    I first learned about the concept of Circle Time {not part of AO, but I use it to accomplish AO} from the Preschoolers and Peace site. This is how we start our day, every day, four days per week. During Circle Time, I cover just about everything that can be done with all children at the same time. So, for me that means prayer, Bible reading, manners training, poetry reading, hymn singing, folk song learning, artist study/art narration, history reading, and so on and so forth. Whatever from Ambleside Online, whatever from our personal goals, whatever can be shared in Circle Time, Circle Time is where it goes. I think that the only thing that can be done together which isn’t on my list is Nature Study and that is because {1} I am terrible about doing this consistently and {2} it needs to be done out of doors while I prefer Circle Time indoors.

    Circle Time has been the key to our success with AO, I think. Otherwise, it seems like this long, insurmountable list. Also, Circle Time is when my littles learn a bit about having lessons. If they are old enough to be awake, they are required to come to Circle Time and participate to the best of their ability. This has really prepared Daughter A. for kindergarten next year.

    You can see an example of our Circle Time plans here.

    The other parts of the day for E., who is my only full-time “student” right now are: math, copywork, “Ambleside Time” {where we do our actual AO readings and narration}, spelling, and grammar. I think that is it. Handicrafts are a part of our days, technically speaking, but they really come and go. We don’t do them consistently, and we often find ourselves doing them on weekend afternoons instead of during the week. It isn’t because they aren’t important, but because I’ve found that when the children are in the mood, they just seem to do better at the whole thing, so I watch for opportunities and capitalize on them.

    To organize Circle Time, I sit down with one paper divided into four days {four days, because we choose to do four days of lessons plus one day where we are out and about, either visiting relatives, serving in some small way, baking together, or taking a field trip} in front of me, plus a blank sheet divided by half-hours to use for a “master schedule” in order to play with a full day.

    The first thing I do is look at the master schedule and fill in the known quantities: breakfast, lunch, chore time, etc. If I know that something always happens at a certain time {even the ending of my youngest child’s nap}, I write it in. No sense fighting the inevitable. Once I’ve written all of this down, I can usually pinpoint my approximate starting time for Circle Time.

    You can check out my Average Day Charts to see what we’re doing and what we’ve done in our days so far.

    Before I do anything else, I scribble in the things that I want done daily during Circle Time. For me, those are things like Bible, manners, poetry, singing review songs, and so on. Then, I have a third paper that has listed the things I want done weekly, and I start to assign those things a day on my Circle Time page. So, for instance, I have one day where Circle Time focuses on learning a new song, and another day that focuses on artist study/art narration, and so on. As long as my list for what I wanted to accomplish in Circle Time was thorough, this is usually successful on the first attempt.

    In my planning for Ambleside Time, instead of working from a list, I am working from the Ambleside weekly schedule and breaking it up into days. I usually have all the books in front of me at that time so that I can check chapter lengths and make sure I’m not overloading a single day. The easiest thing to do is probably to just write what day of the week you want next to each assignment. I typically type up and print out our own official Ambleside Time Schedule, but it always starts from this sort of organizing: printing off the weekly schedule and dividing each week into days, keeping in mind that each reading will need to be narrated {unless it is geography, and then we do map work instead}.

    I feel compelled to note that many families have found success in simply putting the weekly schedule onto a clipboard and checking off readings as they go. I am going to save that for when my son is ready to have more control over his schedule. For now, I enjoy having the readings spread fairly evenly over four days.

    In Year Two, Ambleside Time takes us an average of 45 minutes per day, including narration time.

    So, now you have a Circle Time schedule, an Ambleside schedule, and a master schedule. The master schedule has Circle Time planned in. This is where you have to figure out where to put Ambleside Time, and this totally depends on your family. Do you do it before everyone else wakes up {I have seriously met people who do this}? Late morning? During naptime when others are sleeping and you have uninterrupted time? Plan an hour, and then see how it goes. I think that Year One usually took us only thirty minutes per day, but then I have a fairly quick narrator who doesn’t ask tons and tons of questions.

    Lastly, you need to put in the things that have been left out: math, phonics, spelling, copywork, or whatever is on your list. {Mason suggested that copywork should only be as much as a child can write perfectly, so this might be only five or ten minutes.} In the end of all of this, you have built something similar to my Average Day Charts.

    If your days vary a whole lot for some reason, you might try a chart for each day of lessons, making, for instance, an Average Monday Chart, an Average Tuesday Chart, and so on, if needed. I have found it helpful to block out 45 minutes during which we do…something. And then, for instance, on Tuesdays we go to swimming lessons, on Thursdays we read a fairy tale, or whatnot.

    I do the bulk of this planning in the month or two prior to the beginning of the school year. I plan all of Ambleside Time in advance, and then I plan Circle Time one term at a time, however, the general feel of Circle Time remains the same throughout the year. What I am really changing up are things like manners, how we do poetry, or what type of read-alouds we are doing {if we do any at all in that time}.

    Getting a Vision for Ambleside Online

    One of aspects that makes AO so difficult to get our minds around, I think, is that it is so simple. I, for one, with my public school experience, imagined that things could only be learned if the teacher spent hours and hours of time planning what the children were going to learn. Mason had a completely different approach. She said the children feed on ideas, and AO becomes, then, their “food,” so to speak.

    We read these beautiful stories and the ideas are there for the taking. The children narrate, and as they go along the narrations become conversations, and much is learned, but this kind of learning cannot be planned. All that can be planned into the day is enough space for ideas to feasted on.

    This has a feel about it that is akin to some descriptions of unschooling I have read, and yet it is not unschooling, if I understand unschooling properly, because the curriculum itself is orderly and planned out in advance by one who has authority over the child. However, I believe it shares one of the aims of unschooling, which is to grant the children a rich and enjoyable education.

    Once I did a year of AO, I was truly amazed by its simplicity…and also by its brilliance. I keep coming back to what I have learned so far from my CiRCE lectures: nature. Mason, I think, firmly grasped the nature of the child, and always taught with this in mind.

    Anyone else?

    I know we have some other Amblesiders lurking around here, and some of you have far more years under your belt than I do. Anything I’ve missed? Any tips for us? And if any of you have past posts on how you do your planning, please link them in the comments.

    Read More:
    The updated version dealing with an older child.

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  • Reply Kitty August 21, 2018 at 1:12 pm

    Hiya, we’re just about to start Year 0 and I’m a little overwhelmed by how easy it seems too… Adding to that, we are teaching in German and French and rather having English as a foreign language…

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 21, 2018 at 2:20 pm

      Miss Mason prescribed “six quiet growing years” before formal lessons were started, so breathe easy! It seems easy because it’s so organic and natural in this stage. ♥ So amazing that you are teaching in three languages. That’s wonderful!

  • Reply On Starting a New Homeschool Year – resplendent soul August 15, 2018 at 8:11 am

    […] So with that said, here’s a little bit about how I’m structuring our school this year! (I get a lot of questions about how to use Ambleside – Brandy Vencel has a simple explanation here!) […]

  • Reply Kim January 11, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    Hi! What a great post! I am planning to start Ambleside Year 1 for my 7 year-old in the fall. I have the Year 1 schedule all reviewed but I have kind of a silly question. For all of the daily readings on the schedule, how do you go about doing that? Do you read them aloud and then ask your child questions after? Do you have him/her draw while your reading? Do you have him/her do the reading and read it aloud to you?

    I guess overall, I’m wondering what activities, etc. go along with the readings for your homeschool. Thank you!!!!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 12, 2018 at 4:05 pm

      Hi Kim! Welcome to AmblesideOnline! I would highly, highly recommend that you start by reading the FAQ pages on the AO site. You can find it here. If you don’t want to read through it online, there is a 27-page downloadable PDF linked at the very top of the page. This will get you started on how to use AO in a Charlotte Mason way. 🙂

  • Reply Karen December 31, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Hi, I have maybe a funny question. I would like to use Ambleside for myself to get a more thorough overview of world history. I would like to educate myself in a more Charlotte Mason way, filling in the gaps from my education. I would like to use the book lists from Ambleside, unless you have a better suggestion. Looking at the schedules it looks like I should start at Year seven because it starts with the year 800. Where would you start?
    I have a sixth and tenth grader in public school and a 3 almost 4 year old at home with me. We are doing Ambleside year 0 loosely.
    Thank you so much for your website and podcast. I am inspired not only for my children, but for myself.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel January 1, 2018 at 2:43 pm

      I think this is a wonderful idea! ♥ It would be easier reading, but you might want to start in the second term of Year 6 because that would give you the Greeks and Romans, which might be nice. It’s sort of the beginning of the time line? At least for Western Civ.

  • Reply Charmaine Deadman December 7, 2017 at 4:35 am

    Thank you very much! That other post was very helpful. I will be scouring your blog for tips on working with multiple ages

  • Reply Charmaine December 5, 2017 at 8:21 pm

    I am so glad I found this post! I am trying to get my head around CM’s methods. It is very overwhelming. We have been unsuccessfully homeschooling for 3 years now and I’ve come across CM. We have a 9 year old, 6 year old, and 3 year old. I was thinking, since we all have bad habits of starting us all in year 0, and just getting used to good habit formation and some sort of harmony. Also, adding in math for my 9 year old and maybe learning to read for my 6 yr old. He doesn’t read yet. We would do this from January to August and then start year 1. Not sure if this is a great idea or not. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel December 6, 2017 at 6:35 am

      Welcome to Afterthoughts! I think your plan sounds mostly good, since good habits will help make school lessons much smoother. Depending on your 9yo’s maturity and ability, it’s possible Y0 won’t be enough — Charlotte Mason once said something about a mind that doesn’t have enough to grind grinds itself. So my thought is that if you find this is the case, you go ahead and add in some readings for your 9yo. 🙂

      Have you seen this post? It might also help. 🙂

  • Reply Kristin August 20, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    I’m typing here and giggling from the humor and sarcasm in your notes… teehee.

    I’m going to start my 2nd year of homeschooling this year and was introduced to ambleside just today. So this was super helpful in at least getting my mind around what I’m to do. I see you wrote this in 2010… any hints or tips for preparing for middle school to high school years and beyond? I am good with what we are doing right now but am somewhat lost about what this looks like for us in the long term.

    Thanks in advance,

    • Reply Brandy Vencel August 23, 2017 at 9:54 am


      Today I wrote a post called A Day in the Life of a Charlotte Mason Mama. It might help? I have a high schooler and a middle schooler now. 🙂 If you want planning tips, I suggest typing “planning” in he search box — there are a LOT of posts in that category, and some of them have long videos that show how I do my scheduling for different ages of students.

      I hope that helps. Welcome to AmblesideOnline! ♥

  • Reply Pam Asbury June 22, 2017 at 3:03 pm

    Hello, Brandy!

    Here I am, planning year 8. (Yikes!) When I searched “Afterthoughts blog year” this post came up. I’m curious…now that you are have one (or two?) in high school, did you ever add the Cothran or Kreeft logic books? If so, when, and were they a hit?

    And while I’m here… In another series, you were talking about Lost Tools of Writing. Did you continue with it? Choose something else? To clarify our situation, technically my daughter is a Freshman, but I started her in Year 2 when she was in third grade. We love AO, but I may be freaking out a tad about figuring out transcripts, etc. I am NOT worried that AO isn’t up to snuff, just trying to figure out how it all fits into a transcript. 🙂

    Any help you can give would be appreciated! You blog is a treasure trove for me, so thank you for all you do!

  • Reply Rebekah Lane March 1, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Hi Brandy, I read this article awhile ago and have really wanted to get in touch as I am getting closer to the “beginning” of my families homeschool journey. I have read a lot about Charlotte Mason and her style of teaching and feel comfortable with my understanding of it, but I am also aware of my weaknesses. I am not a multi-tasker or type A planner. I also have 4 children, the oldest and youngest being 4 1/2 years apart so- as they enter school it is going to go quick! Adding a child per year! With that in mind, I’ve been thinking about how to do Ambleside with so many young children in Form 1 where they will all need a lot of help from mom. this article helped immensely. I was wondering if there have been any adjustments you’ve made since writing this, or other things that you have found helpful. Also, I saw you kept history separate. Is that something that you feel is really helpful to keep separate or could it be combined as well? Thanks for any insights.

  • Reply Allison April 7, 2016 at 9:32 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! I am just trying to get my mind around AO for year 1 and this clarified a lot for me! I wondered if you might be able to tell me a bit more about the geography for year 1. It says we are to read ” Paddle to the Sea” and then lists some general concepts of geography we are to teach. Should I be doing map work? and how so? Also any other resources for teaching the other concepts suggested by AO for geography? Thanks again!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 8, 2016 at 8:14 am

      What I have always done for Paddle is to print out a blank map of the Great Lakes area — I just google and find one free online — and then we trace/color his journey along the way.

      I don’t know if you have joined the AO Forum. I know it can be a bit overwhelming. BUT, if you go in there, there is an area for each Form {forms are sets of AO years} and at the top, there is always a resources page with tons of links, including maps for different books we’re reading and other geography suggestions. You might want to check it out!

      Here’s a video tutorial if you want a little tour before starting. 🙂

  • Reply Cassandra August 29, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    I’m in the midst of planning for years 1-3 and this is super helpful. Thanks! Cass @

  • Reply Melissa July 8, 2015 at 2:43 am

    Thank you so much for this post. I have been using AO for just over year now and I am still trying to find my groove. I will find this post very helpful.

  • Reply Kate April 21, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I’m in the thick of planning next year, and I totally needed to come back and reread this post. Even five years later, this is still extremely helpful as I get ready for year 3. Thank you!

    • Reply Brandy Vencel April 21, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      Oh, I’m glad it is still helpful after all these years. 🙂

  • Reply CCS July 16, 2014 at 3:22 am

    I especially like all the curriculum on music and art. World History in high school (some 31 years ago) still being one of my favorite memories of high school. Our instructor padded the standard state curriculum with extras about famous composers and artists– it was my first introduction to all that and I am still– all these years later so grateful for that. Even more so now, that I have little ones (ages 9 and 7) that I can start with early teaching about these great artists.

  • Reply CCS July 16, 2014 at 2:42 am

    I have to tell you… I’m absolutely engrossed by this post. I”ve been on it now for several hours, clicking on links and mentally rethinking how I might school my 2nd grader at home will be using an online public school for the first year [or maybe just a few months after reading all this! :)] Thought public school online with things mapped out for me would be easier way to ease into schooling at home. Your blog makes designing my own curriculum with help of Ambleside a much less daunting idea now. I may ditch the online public school sooner than I thought!!! (I also have a going-to-4th grader who will be staying in a brick and mortar public school this year, but he wants to be homeschooled too (so he says 🙂 — so in reading your posts, also thinking about him for next year if I do bring him home.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 16, 2014 at 2:53 am

      You know, I *almost* mentioned AO after your comment over on TRwBB, but I didn’t want to overwhelm you. I’m glad you stumbled over here on your own. 🙂 If you ever decide to implement AO in your home, or even portions of it, there is a free online help forum here: 🙂

  • Reply Hollie Dermer July 23, 2013 at 11:46 am

    We are new to Ambleside this year and this post (along with many others on your blog) have been extremely helpful! Thank you so much for taking the time to put this information out there for others. It is a real blessing 🙂

    • Reply Brandy Vencel July 23, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Welcome to Ambleside, Hollie! I’m excited for you!

      Remember that if you start to feel lost along the way, the AO Forum is a place to meet other moms tackling the same issues as yourself.

  • Reply ...they call me mommy... December 14, 2012 at 1:23 am

    Just found this on Ambleside…very helpful info!! 🙂 Thanks!

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts November 8, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Leah, You are very welcome. I am glad it helped.

    And welcome to Afterthoughts. 🙂

  • Reply Leah November 8, 2010 at 8:49 pm

    This post is exactly what I needed to see! I will be bookmarking it and coming back often as I begin my Ambleside journey with my 10 yr. old! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts March 2, 2010 at 8:34 pm


    Ambleside as a practice: I like that and I see that. What is nice about viewing that way, also, is that this fits with what I have experienced, in that we get better at it as we do it, and it becomes more natural to us over time.

    As far as “walking on a scroll of wonders,” I think you are a poet! One of the things I have been thankful to Ambleside for is that the works we read, the things we do–it really is infused with wonder. I feel more childlike as we go because of this. It is easy for we adults to forget the glories of our Father’s world.

    Thanks, Lynn, for helping birth this for the rest of us. I keenly feel my family’s debt to those of you who built this “practice” for the rest of us.

  • Reply Amy March 2, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    This is such a helpful post. Thanks for taking the time to lay this out for the newbies. I look forward to reading more about your homeschool experiences.

  • Reply Sherry February 28, 2010 at 4:27 am

    A friend just referred me to this excellent post. Thanks so much for taking the time to spell out what’s worked for you. 🙂

  • Reply Lynn B. February 27, 2010 at 2:23 am

    Brandy, I could hug your neck for providing this helpful post!

    We got our vision for developing AO during the process of studying Mason’s philosophy together — hence, Ambleside is firmly rooted in a philosophy. However, comma– as you say– it isn’t a philosophy one can absorb merely in theory, or merely through trying to imagine what it might look like in practice. It’s a walking philosophy, a journey toward a city that grows clearer on the horizon with each day of pilgrimage.

    All that to say, I look at Ambleside Online as a practice — and the whole picture of what it actually is can only be truly apprehended in practice. It’s like a scroll of wonders rolled up in front of your feet that unrolls before you only as you walk on it.

    Walking on a scroll of wonders IS such a lovely way to live with children, isn’t it? 🙂

    You’ve provided here exactly the kind of information new (and not-so-new!) Ambleside users need. I’ll be referring people to this post for a long time to come!

    And I second your observation about those CiRCE CDs… I’ve yet to listen to one without hearing Charlotte Mason in my head, tossing in all sorts of footnotes.

    Thank you again, Brandy!


  • Reply Brandy Afterthoughts February 26, 2010 at 6:40 am


    I like that pattern you have–that alternating between being apart and coming together. It sounds almost like breathing.

    I do wonder what my next year will look like. This year began with a certain “tone” due to my teaching an additional student from our neighborhood. Because my time with her was limited, I heavily weighted certain parts of the day. I find that has carried over into this term, even though that wasn’t necessary. I am beginning to rethink that for Term Three.

    We have been doing read alouds at lunch lately as well! It has been wonderful! Now that my toddler can feed himself, we are enjoying doing this again.

    I like Cindy’s post that you mentioned and linked it to the sidebar. I always like her perspective, and it keeps me from becoming the kind of person I am sometimes inclined to be: someone who just plows through the material.

  • Reply dawn February 26, 2010 at 2:13 am

    Cindy’s Morning Time post today is fabulous and certainly ties into what you’ve written.

    Thanks for your scheduling info, it is helpful.

    We don’t do our Circle Time all at once, my kiddos need a break (they are all 5 and under). We do Proverbs & Manners, calendar, composer & artist at breakfast; 30 minutes are scheduled for walking/exercising; 30 minutes of Memory work (I’m certain this will become an hour eventually) at the beginning of the day; 30 minutes of work with the 2 year old; all come back together for 30 minutes of Spanish; 30 minutes with the 4 year old; 30 minutes of geography; 45 minutes-1 hr with the 5 year old. Read alouds at lunch; art/science I’m going to move to after quiet time I think. We just space things out during the day moving back and forth between free time and together time and it works very well. It isn’t perhaps as organic as your schedule, but I found Managers of their Homes (MOTH) from very helpful in how to schedule a day.

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