Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Educating Myself With AmblesideOnline

I started using Charlotte Mason's educational methods with my children in 2010.  When I heard about Miss Mason's methods and philosophies I wished that I had been educated like that and I knew that this was how I was going to lead my children to a great education.  But I was very overwhelmed with all the lofty ideas Charlotte talked about in her 6 volume Homeschool Series, written over her lifetime as an educator.  How was I, as a busy mother of 4 (at the time - we have since added another) ever going to find the time to seek out the very best books in History, Science, Biographies, Poetry, and Literature , and then plan them all out into a coherent curriculum for my children who deserve no less than the best for their education - especially since I feel strongly that my own government education was severely lacking.  Then I found Ambleside Online and knew that God had answered my prayers. 

Here was a fully prepared curriculum created by a group of women who had done the hard work of finding the best of the best in each subject and even had it all laid out for me.  All I had to do was gather the books and follow the plan.  So easy!  Well, if you have been homeschooling for longer than a week then you know it's never quite that simple and things don't ever work out just as we plan them.  I had so much to learn about the how and why of simple things like: Narration, Picture Study, Nature Study, Short Lessons, Complete Attention.  I have spent the past 5 years reading and learning all about CM's methods and philosophies but while I was learning I was jumping right in and applying the new ideas I came across in my kids' lives.  You know  what the most important thing I have learned so far has been?  That there is a lot I don't know.  But I want to know. 

I am currently doing years 1, 2, and 3 of AO with my children and I have learned more history in this time than I did in my entire school career.  I am making connections to the stories, and so are my kids and it is amazing.  I am enjoying furthering my education by going through AO with them but I have lately been feeling like I need to do something just for me too.  So I have decided to start my own education and work through the Ambleside Online years for myself. 

"Self-education is the only possible education; the rest is mere veneer laid on the surface of a child's nature"

After looking at the years I have decided that year 4 is a good starting point for me.  I feel a little embarrassed to admit that I am starting my education at a 4th grade level but you know, it's not about where I am starting, but about where I hope to go that's important.   You can view AO's Year 4 Booklist and Reading Schedule.   I am going to try to follow the schedule as much as I can, while giving myself some grace if I get behind.  I do have a home, a husband, and 5 children to care for, after all.  I will be posting all of my Narrations here which, in the beginning, I am expecting to be very simple and I am not going to judge myself much on the writing yet.  Just like for my little ones who are new to narration, in the beginning we just get it out any way we can and work on developing style later.  Some of my narrations will be written while some may be audio or video.

This week's books!

I am also going to get myself a math curriculum (I am going to have to take a placement test and ashamed as I may be, I will disclose to here which program and level I am starting) and will keep a commonplace notebook and a timeline/book of centuries.  I will continue to study French with my children and Latin with my son, although in the future I hope to dive deeper into these languages on my own - perhaps a Community college class.  My handicraft will probably be one that I am already proficient at but could always use more practice: Knitting or crocheting.  I will have a free read going and do Artist and Composer studies and Memory work, Folk songs, and hymns with my kids.  I need to get myself a nature journal and begin learning to draw - I do not feel adequate in this area at all.  I will continue with Plutarch and Shakespeare with my oldest son.  This is my plan.  I will be back later to let you know what reality actually allows, but in the meantime feel free to leave me a comment of encouragement or even jump in and learn along with me.  I would love the company of someone to share in talking to me about these beautiful living books.