2015 Homeschool Changes: To Ambleside or not to Ambleside


So, here’s the first “I’m not really sure yet” post.

I told you yesterday that I’ve long been intrigued by/interested in/drawn to Ambleside Online.  I’ve used their free reading lists and their annual booklists for free reads and read alouds. I know they ask you not to do this.

I would like to continue to try to keep the children together for most of their content. I like that they have others to bounce and build ideas. I like that we are learning together as a family.  One of our goals for homeschooling has been and continues to be building a family culture and family unity.  Because my kids are only 32 months apart, we have a great opportunity to do that in our schooling.

Anyway, here are the options as I see them.

First, we could finish our trip through Narnia.  We read all but The Magician’s Nephew and The Last Battle last year.  We could continue with Story of the World and finish Chemistry and start Physics.  We could essentially continue with the resources we’ve used in the past but in a different way.  When we finish Narnia, we would do British Legends for literature: St. George, King Arthur, and Robin Hood. I like this idea, but I’m afraid that it will be easy to fall back into old patterns. And I’d have to do a lot of the planning, prepping resources, etc. And I’m tired.

Second, I’m strongly leaning toward full-on AmblesideOnline.  The real problem here is choosing an appropriate year.  I think I’d choose either Year 3.5 (we’ve already read or listened to a lot of the books for this year, a bit young for the older two, but R-girl is only 7.5) or Year 4 (right where we are in history already, new books we haven’t read, perfect looking for N-boy and M-girl, but R-girl is only 7.5).  Aiming at N-boy’s level and varying up or down for the girls.  I do not wish to attempt 3 Ambleside years as my friend Anna is doing.  She’s brave!

Math is my other big problem.  I love MEP.  Serious love. What I don’t love is teaching 3 hours of math a day.  It is very teacher intensive and the kids need a lot of interaction with it.  Some days I feel like all I do is teach math.  I thought we’d try out the interactive pages, but they aren’t what I thought they’d be.  Hmmmm.  The end of the year R-girl was doing math on Khan Academy, because she had progressed far enough that MEP was becoming too conceptually ahead of where she was.  I think she’s ready to pick it up again.  N-boy was doing the lesson part one day and the activity sheet a second because he’s in a difficult section.  We’ll probably continue this way until he’s through this section.  M-girl is a bit behind, and needs to move ahead. I may start skipping the 5th (review) lessons for a time.

I know a lot of Ambleside folks use MEP, so I’m going to head over there to the forums and see how other families with multiple students handle it.


  1. I was talking with my friend, Meg, last night who suggested we do a blend of Year 3 and Year 3.5 to take care of the books we have/haven't read. That merits consideration.

  2. Why do they ask us not to use part of Ambleside? We use their music & art selections & love it.

    Hope you find rest this year- planning is always the biggest part. 3 hours of math would be too much for me every day! What about rotating who you meet with & let them work independently on the off days?

    1. Just to clarify — when AO asks you not to pick and choose from their site, all they mean is, don't use their site as a reading list and think you're giving your child a true Charlotte Mason education by doing that. Which isn't what either of you are doing.

  3. The problem with picking and choosing is that now that I'm ready to do AO, we've read some books from the year we would fit best and don't want to redo (and, I can't face five little peppers again)

    The way MEP is set up is a lot of teaching and interacting with the workaheets. They're hard to divorce.

    I need to find a solution, though.

  4. I'm not brave, I just have a different personality, age spread and priorities. 🙂 Mine would need different books even if we were doing the same time period, and Ambleside's schedule is very doable, especially if your kids are independent readers. I see our common family culture coming through shared read-alouds, trips, Morning Time, etc. Praying you can find the balance that is right for your family!

    1. Well, if you aren't brave, you are amazing, Anna!

      All of the kids are independent readers, but I really loved having us working together, and I see Ambleside as continuing and even strengthening that. I do so appreciate your prayers.

  5. That's a lot to consider and momentous decisions to make. 3 hours of math teaching would kill me.

    I'll be praying for you as you sort through your options.

    1. I think we may do 30 minute blocks of math and not worry about stopping or starting by lesson.

      I like MEP and I like teaching math, but it was getting so that was all I was actively teaching, IYKWIM.

  6. Doing 2 years of AO is doable. I have my two middle children together. Sometimes I use different biography or free read books for my oldest to challenge her more, but almost everything else is close to how it is written. Right now we are only doing one year since my oldest graduated and my 6 year old won't start AO Year 1 until next school year. I would put your 7.5 in Year 1 or 2. I have always started my kids at 7 and it has worked out very well.

    1. My 7.5 YO has been doing school for several years now, reading since 4 and finished FLL2. She would be ready for most 3rd grade work, I can't imagine putting her back to Year 1 and she's sensitive to being 'left out' because of being the youngest. Also, we have read large portions from Y1 and Y2. I think it may be harder when three are so close. M-girl doesn't mind at all that N-boy thinks they're the same age. N-boy is really annoyed that R-girl thinks she's the same age too.

      I do appreciate your input. It has helped me clarify some of my thinking and since I often make decisions intuitively, clarity is very good 🙂

  7. Hi Dawn! Commenting here rather than on RAR 😉 I have a new 8 yo who just finished Y1 and a new 6 yo needing to start. I'm trying to decide what to combine! What would you do? 😉

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *