Mum To Mom

Musings of an Aussie Mother Living in the USA

Tag: Ambleside Online

2018/2019 End-of-Year Round Up

Last year, I began the tradition of interviewing my kids about how they felt about their school year. This year my girls finished 4th, 5th, and 7th grade using Ambleside Online’s Years 4, 5, and 7. These are their reflections followed by my own.

G-Age-9(AO4)

Favorite subjects/books
My favorite books are Kidnapped, Incredible Journey, the Roman gods one (Age Of Fable) and George Washington’s World. And George Washington is my favorite subject.

Area that I grew the most in this year
Cursive and reading, but mostly cursive.

Area I need to work on the most
Spelling.

The most interesting topic in history
George Washington. He saved America.

The most interesting topic in science
The submarine.

What was the hardest thing this year?
Reading and spelling and math.

Is there anything that you would change or add?
I would add breaks in between hard things. I think I might change it to Morning Time first and math would go after the first reading. And all the hard things would go after a reading, and then a reading would go after the hard thing. Like, reading, math, reading, cursive… (this is already how we typically structure our day. She wants the first hard thing we do to be Math instead of cursive like it was this year).

Things that you felt did not go well in our homeschool this year
I thought that Nessy was horrible (reading curriculum), math was exhausting, and that Abigail Adams and Inventions (The Story of Inventions) was just a really hard book to read and understand. And I partially did typing but I stopped.

Any supplies you wish you had
A drawing kit with erasers, sharpener, pencils, pastels, maybe some markers. And maybe the hard paper-the watercolor paper, and a sleeping mask and a pair of slippers that fit me.

Anything else
On the good days, it’s fine. On the bad days when I haven’t had good sleep, it is stressful and I don’t do good at narrating.

Best part of your homeschool day
I think Morning Time and spending time with my parents.

I am most proud of
My narrations.

I am pretty good at
Liking the books Mom reads to me.

Next year I hope to
Be better at reading.

E-Age-10(AO5)

Favorite subjects/books
Math and doing the readings. Sometimes I like to write the copywork because it’s fun to write. My favorite books are George Washington Carver, Oliver Twist, Theodore Roosevelt (Carry a Big Stick), and the inventions book (The Story of Inventions). I like history. I liked The Story of the World and This Country of Ours and I also liked Of Courage Undaunted and Kim. So I basically liked all my books. But my favorite books is like, a little bit from every history book, Oliver Twist, Theodore Roosevelt, and Inventions. I like them because they are interesting. If they weren’t interesting I probably wouldn’t pay attention as much.

Area that I grew the most in this year
Math and history. History of all the presidents I get to write down on the timeline. And so probably, in other years, when I’m a grown up and teach my kids I could just go back, look at mine, and show them as an example of what I did, so they would want to do what I did. And then they will be able to do their children if they have kids. So you can just look back and see all the work you’ve done and you just get proud of it.

Area I need to work on the most
Concentration. I wander off and think of other things like my favorite TV show and I don’t pay attention that much and so I miss the main of the story. I also need to practice learning math. Even though it is quite easy, I just get lazy and then I have to do math in the summer, even though it’s a school break, because I got lazy in the middle of the year and I did less math and so now I have to pay the consequences.

The most interesting topic in history
How all the presidents… and how the President, Thomas Jefferson sent people down to see how big America was. And it was BIG. And they actually made friends with a lot of Indians. And Thomas Jefferson was wise. He said, “If you can’t make friends with the Indians, stop and don’t go on any further, because we don’t want a war with any Indians.”

The most interesting topic in science
The parts of the body. I like to know how it’s made because, if you don’t know how your body is made, it’s like using a machine but you don’t know how it works. Because if you’re a doctor, you need to know what to do … [a lot of examples omitted for length]. I also liked Inventions. They are a little bit history but also science.

Is there anything that you would change or add?
No.

Things that you felt did not go well in our homeschool this year
I think we should have been constant reading the bible and doing Morning Time every day. Because sometimes we’d forget. And the things that didn’t go well is that I would always finish it very quickly because it would be easy and fun. I would start off school really early but then for most of the day I didn’t have anything to do so I grew bored and needed more school.

Anything else
To make things fun even though it’s hard. Make like a fun project. Like, if you’re learning math and it’s a hard question, you could just, “how many questions can you do in this time?” Or if that does not help me, you could say, “well, just do this section of math questions.” And once I’ve finished that section I would be like, “yay, I’ve finished.” You can be like, “how about you do a little bit more.” And then I can get all the math done. Or you can separate it into sections… like I do when I tidy my room.

Any supplies you wish you had
More knowledge and wisdom and to learn to control my temper when I get frustrated that I can’t work out the question of math.

Best part of your homeschool day
The readings and being satisfied that I have actually learned something.

I am most proud of
That I can understand math and I can understand my history and read it well. And learning the science about the body. So I have all this knowledge. And I am proud that I have a great mother who can teach me things. And that I write down the president’s names and it just helps me memorize them.

I am pretty good at
Reading. Because Mom taught me in a fun way.

Next year I hope to
Improve of my concentration and to help to understand the math and not think of other things while I’m reading. I just hope I can get the things done and won’t have to be slack in math so I won’t have to do it in the summer.

A-Age-12(AO7)

Favorite subjects/books
My favorite book I read this year wasn’t a school book. It was David Copperfield. It was really fun and enjoyable and you got to learn about the characters. They showed different parts of human personalities and different people and it was really fun.

My favorite school book this year… I had a lot of favorites. I liked Fallacy Detective, How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig, Freedom (In Freedom’s Cause), The Brendan Voyage, and a lot of others that I can’t remember the names of.

I liked Selfish Pig because it was funny but also told you how not to be and it had really funny and true descriptions of people who had stopped being a selfish pig. I liked Freedom because I had never really understood that part of history and through the main character, Archie, I was able to understand that. Brendan Voyage was just enjoyable.

Area that I grew the most in this year
Math. Because I worked really really hard on it so I wouldn’t fail the Stanford 10.

Area I need to work on the most
Math.

The most interesting topic in history
War of the Roses because it’s very, very complicated. And if you don’t understand exactly which side is coming from you can be unjustly biased. I still don’t quite understand everything and there are also some really complicated parts where some people don’t do anything, which doesn’t make any sense. And it’s really interesting and people can probably justify themselves pretty logically from being on either side, even though there is only one right side, and that’s the Yorkist. Which, by the way, I am.

The most interesting topic in science
The laws of this world (The Secrets of The Universe). Like the Law of Acceleration. It’s kind of cool.

The best part of our homeschool day
When I get to read my literature and history books because they’re often classics. Or if they’re not classics they are really well written, interesting books that teach you along the way. I like being able to read books and learn and not just have some boring textbook tell me something.

Is there anything that you would change or add?
Figure out some way for me to magically get better at all the hard things. Other than that it’s really helpful that I have a checklist and can just change it to fit the day and what’s happening. So there is not really anything I would like to change.

Things that you felt did not go well in our homeschool this year
Not starting on time. Which then derailed our day which then put us later in the afternoon which then got it all stressful. Then I was grumpy and then other people were grumpy, and we made each other grumpy because we were grumpy and then it just didn’t turn out very well. But that was only a couple of days.

Any supplies you wish you had
There isn’t really any supplies I need. I just need patience because I have everything I need to make my notebooks pretty, but I just need the patience to get it done. At the end of the project I’m like, “yes, this was worth it. It was worthwhile.” But then at the beginning, I’m like, “this is pointless. Why would I do this?” And then halfway through the year, I change my mood, but I have to actually start to get to that halfway point.

I am most proud of
Math because I worked really really hard and I got it all done. I was able to get better at it.

I am pretty good at
I am pretty good at reading and spelling and history and literature and logic. The only subjects I have the most trouble with are Math and Science and Chemistry, which is kind of the same thing.

Next year I hope to
Next year I hope to be done with King Arthur. Because I am sick of it.

Anything else
There is nothing I would like to add because it is fine. Really, really, really, really enjoyable. I think the only feedback I could give wouldn’t be to you, it would be to me… to just get down and do the school and stop with the whining and complaining, because I’m going to have to do it anyway and I always end up doing it so I may as well do it at the beginning and not waste all that time whining and complaining and making it out to be something way worse than it is.

Me

I have said before that I am reading almost all of my eldest daughter’s school books alongside her. Essentially, this year I completed AO7 with her. It was a challenging year for many reasons, but the books, as always, were rich and enjoyable.

Favorite subjects/books
The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer and The Pursuit of Holiness by Jerry Bridges. These were such rich books and I grew so much in my faith. It was a delight to read these alongside A-Age-12 and discuss them with her.

I also loved The Birth of Britain by Winston Churchill, The Brendan Voyage by Tim Severin, Beowulf, and How the Heather Looks by Joan Bodger.

Area that I grew the most in this year
Time management.

Area I need to work on the most
Consistency in training habits. My own and my children.

The most interesting topic in history
Seeing the development of the parliament and laws for the people.

The most interesting topic in science
Without a doubt The Laws of Science (The Secrets of the Universe by Paul Fleisher). It is incredible how perfect and ordered God made this universe. The relativity of time blew our minds.

What was the hardest thing this year?
Managing different personalities living under the same roof who are with each other all. the. time. This has been very sanctifying.

Is there anything that you would change or add?
Because of an amazing friend who speaks fluent Spanish, I am able to add Spanish back into our curriculum again! Very excited about that.

Things you felt did not go well in our homeschool this year
I had tried moving memorizations out of our Morning Time and into each child’s independent work. They were supposed to manage these themselves. Even though I had their memory work clearly printed on their checklists, the children did not consistently work on memory work like they were supposed to. I had attempted to build in accountability by scheduling weekly recitations of the poems and Scriptures they were working on, however, we were so inconsistent with actually doing this that learning new memory work, especially in the last term, fell apart.

I am most proud of
The answers my children gave in this interview! The ability to self evaluate their strengths and weaknesses will be such a valuable skill for them as they go on in life. I had not intentionally set out to teach them that, but through this interview process, I can see that they are learning to do that.

I am pretty good at
Adjusting a lesson on the fly to suit the situation.

Next year I hope to
Be more consistent with our memory work and keeping timelines and notebooks.

Anything else
I can get so down on myself as I think about all the ways I didn’t meet my own expectation for the year, but listening to the children’s thoughtful answers and seeing how much of the school year they enjoyed and grew has been an incredible encouragement. I am thankful to our sovereign God who is over all and through all and in all. Only by His Grace can I continue to raise and educate these amazing, complex, deep-thinking human beings. Soli Deo Gloria.

Valderi, Valdera: Reflections on Ambleside Online Camp Meeting

I have just got back from spending a wonderful weekend at Ambleside Online’s 2019 Camp Meeting. On the plane ride home I endeavored to collect my thoughts and process all that I had learned from the conference. But as I attempted to reflect, the folksong, The Happy Wanderer, played over and over in my head. “Valderi, Valdera. Valderi, Valdera, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha…” Over and over and over. When Wendi Capehart taught us that song during the conference, she told us that we would be singing it whether we wanted to or not. She was right. At first, I found it irritating that this unwanted folksong persisted in pervading my thoughts. I wanted to be thinking of deep and meaningful things, not a frivolous folksong. But then I decided that instead of fighting with it, I would embrace it. I could not help but smile and even laugh as the song played round in my head.

You try singing, “…valdera, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,” without laughing.

Do you know what? Once I embraced it, it was exactly what I needed at that moment. I was smiling, singing a funny song, and enjoying the moment. It reminded me of something that Cindy Rollins said this weekend. Moms need to be joyful. We homeschool moms, who take educating our children very seriously, can easily forget to be joyful in our work. We worry about doing enough. We worry about doing it right. We agonize over all the ways we aren’t living up to “The Perfect.” This weekend Lynn Bruce exhorted us to put away comparing and seeking the perfect Charlotte Mason education. Because there is no perfect education. There is your family’s education. We have these beautiful persons, given to us for such a short while, full of energy and life and wonder, who we forget to smile at because we’re busy looking at what others are doing and thinking we’re not measuring up. We unwittingly push away those organic Valdera, ha, ha, ha,ha,ha moments and miss out on the very joy that is there for us if we allow ourselves to see it.

This work that we are doing is hard, especially when you’re “in the middle” as Sheila Atchley reminded us. But it is joyful work. It is good work. It is kingdom work. We are not raising or educating careers; we are discipling our children and educating their moral imagination. Wendi taught us that through living books our children learn to imagine what it is like to be in someone else’s shoes. They learn to imagine what it is like to be in other cultures, other ways of life. Through living books, our children are developing empathy for the orphan, empathy for the downcast, empathy for the worker in a factory or a leader of a nation. Wendi explained that there was no need for the “goody goody” (as Charlotte Mason calls them) moralizing book that often hardens the hearts of our children instead of softening them. Because living books bring those character qualities worth emulating to the forefront in living, real characters and life situations. As Tim Laurio, from the progeny panel, told us: the characters become their friends who guide them through life. Their failings and successes and even their words of wisdom, set down in the pages of literature, serve as guideposts for life. This is why living books and narration are so integral to Charlotte Mason’s philosophy.

Mason understood the universal law that “Children are born persons.” Karen Glass taught us that this principle as well as “education is the science of relations” were the pillars from which all Mason’s other principles hinge. As Karen went on to explain, these were principles that Mason observed as already existing. She just wrote them down. Anne White said it well when she stated, “Simple principles simply stated are often the best.” Anne showed us that these principles aren’t for the purpose of serving ourselves, they are for the stewardship and service of others. When we realize that Mason’s education philosophy was in order to develop a character that loves God and loves people, we can be joyful in our work. We can smile and be content and hopeful, as Cindy encouraged us to be, because our work is not for us. And it is not for college. It is for others. And most importantly, it is for God. As Cindy reminded us, we are educating our children for the worship of God.

Donna-Jean Breckenridge emphasized that it is not our job to save our children, but to lead them to one who can. Lead them to His Word — His truth. She explained that we do this by being in His Word and praying. Pray, pray, pray, pray, pray because, as Donna-Jean said, “there is a King over ALL” and we can trust Him. He is faithful. And because He is faithful we can be joyful and sing with the Psalmist:

“This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

2014-2015 Evaluations and Reflections

After finishing the school year a couple of weeks ago, I spent the better part of a week preparing portfolios for evaluation. This year took longer than normal. At the last minute I decided to reorganize all of the girls’ work. I also had two terms of exams for two students to type out. I know I could have typed them up earlier in the year, and I intended to. But not being naturally organized, I never got around to it. In spite of my disorganization, I got them done. Want to see?

Portfolios

Language Arts

Geography

Tabs

Free Reading

Narration

It took 3 hours to type up all the books my 3rd grader read this year. The girl is a machine. I read pretty slowly so this is shocking to me. I know Charlotte Mason advocates reading slowly, giving your mind time to digest the living ideas, but I cannot slow my daughter down. I am not overly concerned about this with her free reading because she can narrate everything she’s read without a worry, even quoting paragraphs, so I know she’s giving attention to what she is reading and understands it.

While typing up exams and preparing portfolios, I’ve had time to reflect on the year that’s gone by—the things that went well, the areas that need improving, and the areas that went well but could use a little tweaking to work better. Considering what went well, here are what I think were our greatest successes.

Our Schedule

The most successful area of our homeschool this year was our schedule. I know that sounds kind of boring, but if our schedule didn’t work so well, many of the wonderful areas that we studied (like art, composers, poetry, nature study, and Spanish) would have been left out, to our detriment. Charlotte Mason believed in providing a liberal education, that is, a wide and generous feast of living ideas for children to devour that would feed their souls. This is why including areas of study that many might not deem necessary is so important to me.

This year I introduced a third student to our school day. Her schedule and demand was pretty light as she was only in Kindergarten (Prep), but it still had an impact on the dynamic of our day. Last year, when I had only two students our day had a general outline with no specifics. I knew in my head what we had to get done and each day we somehow figured it out. Needless to say, many areas that I’ve already mentioned were left out on many occasions, and when we did do them they were in a haphazard, stressed kind of way. That is not what Charlotte Mason envisaged at all.

Thanks to Brandy’s average day planning post last year at Afterthoughts and Jen’s 2013 planning series over at Snowfall Academy, I realized I needed a better plan. I was able to use ideas from both their schedules to come up with one that was much more thorough than I had before and one that suited our family.

Daily Schedule

Schedule

Weekly Schedule

Weekly ScheduleAO1 and AO3 refer to the Ambleside Online’s weekly scheduled readings for years 1 and 3.

It worked beautifully for us. There were three areas that were particularly successful.

Circle Time

I have posted a little about this before, but just to quickly explain again: Circle Time is basically all the areas of study that we do together. Last year I attempted Circle Time but found that with Bible reading, prayer, poetry, memorizations, artist or composer study, and Spanish, it was going WAY too long, and my children, especially the 5-year-old, could not sit in one place for that long, and so I often left things out. I saw on Jen’s daily schedule that she had Bible, prayer, and memorization first thing and then had another Circle Time during snack. This seems so obvious now but I had never thought of it before seeing her plan. Following Jen’s example I split Circle Time in half, beginning the day with Bible, prayer, memorization and adding poetry in as well. At either snack or lunch time, depending on how the day was going, we did Spanish and alternated composer and artist study. This has worked really well for me, and morning Circle Time has become my favorite part of the day.

Kindergarten

The second area that was successful for us was teaching the youngest student first. This year I had two students that were learning to read. One had not mastered all her letters, while the other had finished 3 and 4 letter word families and was moving on to learning to read actual books (You can find the method I use to teach reading over at Joyful Shepherdess). Only a year apart in age, both students needed me for all of their schooling, yet were at different stages of learning, so couldn’t be combined. I was nervous about this. So my plan was to begin with the youngest, whose attention, presumably, would wane the quickest. This worked well most of the time. Though some days the 1st grader had the shorter attention span, and so I began with her. Other days I mixed it up, beginning with K phonics for 15 minutes, then giving her a break, taught 1st grade reading for 15 minutes, then returned to the youngest to finish her formal school time with math, then switched again to 1st grade math, and continued with Year 1 readings. So even though I had the Kindergartener scheduled, and followed this schedule most of the time, I allowed my days to be fluid enough within the schedule structure to ensure that I could meet my individual children’s needs on any particular day. The first of Charlotte Mason’s 20 principles is “Children are born persons.” I think part of respecting our children as real, individual persons in their own right, made in the image of God, is being tuned in to what they need to learn best that day. This means that sometimes shifting the order of the schedule is necessary because it is what is best for them. I am not always successful at this, but when I am, our school day is better.

Nature Study

The third area of success in our homeschool was Nature Study. It was actually on the schedule this year, so we actually did it! This is a big success for me because I’m naturally a homebody. This is an area of study that definitely need’s more improvements, particularly with our notebooks. Yet I still consider it a success since we managed to go for a nature walk somewhere every week and draw or paint what we observed.

So that is our school year in a nutshell. There is definitely areas that I need to improve or tweak, but I will save that for another post.

How was your school year? What are some successes you had? I’d love to hear from you.

What Does My Homeschool Look Like? – Our Booklist (Year 1)

I mention in my bio that I am a homeschooler so I thought I would do a series of posts about what our homeschool looks like at the moment. I currently only homeschool my 6 year old and we are following the booklist and 36 week schedule (3 terms) for Year 1 at Ambleside Online (AO1).

Here is our AO1 booklist:

Bible
We are reading the book of Genesis.

Copywork
This is basically handwriting and spelling practice. I choose a short passage from one of the books that we are reading and she copies it out. Usually only one or two sentences a day. I try to vary the type of writing to expose her to a variety of writing styles. For example, for a couple of days she will copy a verse from a poem, the next day a line from Aesops fables, the next couple of days something from literature, the next something from a history book, etc.

Readers
Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik
Harriette Taylor Treadwell Readers (free online readers)

Math
Math-U-See

Science
Apologia’s Exploring Creation With Astronomy by Jeannie Fulbright

Nature study
The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton W. Burgess (free online ebook)

Literature
The Aesop for Children by Milo Winters (free online ebook)
Beautiful stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit (free downloadable ebook)
The Blue Fairy Book by Andrew Lang (free downloadable ebook)
Just so stories by Rudyard Kipling (free downloadable ebook)
Parables from Nature by Margaret Gatty (free online ebook)

Poetry
A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson Term 1
Now We Are Six/When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne Term 2
A Child’s Book of Poems by Gyo Fujikawa Term 3

History
Trial and Triumph by Richard Hannula
An Island Story by H.E. Marshall (free downloadable ebook)
Fifty Famous Stories Retold by James Baldwin Terms 1 & 2 (free downloadable ebook)
Viking Tales by Jennie Hall Terms 2 & 3 (free downloadable ebook)

American History Biography
Benjamin Franklin by Ingri D’Aulaire Term 1
George Washington by Ingri D’Aulaire Term 2
Buffalo Bill by Ingri D’Aulaire Term 3

Geography
Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling

French
First Step en Francais (free online beginner course)
Tres Bien app for iPad

Artist and Composer Study
Term1 – Renoir/Debussy
Term 2 – Ruisdale, de Hooch/Bach
Term 3 – Seurat/Opera Overtures
Wikipedia and other online resources
I will discuss how we do artist and composer study in another post.

P.E.
Classes run for homeschoolers at our local gym.

Free Reading
Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (free downloadable ebook)
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (especially for my younger girls who are 4 and 3 and not ready for chapter books, and 6 year old enjoys it too)
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (free downloadable ebook)
The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot and Cuddlepie by May Gibbs (Australian)
The Complete Adventures of Blinky Bill by Dorothy Wall (Australian)

I may add more to the free reading list if we have time to read more than what is listed. There are a couple of books that I also may include for Australian History/Literature if I am able to get the books and can work out how to fit them into our schedule. These are: The Way of The Whirlwind by Mary Durack and Dot and the Kangaroo by Ethel Pedley. Thanks to my Aussie friend Jeanne at A Peaceful Day who drew my attention to these Australian books and has spent many years Australianizing AO by compiling great Australian literature to compliment the Ambleside Online curriculum.

I have linked to as many of the free ebooks that I could find, but obviously you can choose to purchase the paper version of these books instead if you preferred to. I started with all the ebooks that I could for budgeting reasons but have since gone back and purchased a few of the literature books in paper. While the ebooks are helpful, they are a poor substitute for a beautifully illustrated children’s book that the children can hold in their little hands and can pull off the shelf anytime they want to immerse themselves in the adventure it holds.

Well there it is. My next post I will show you what our weekly schedule looks like.

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