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    Please help me let go of Ambleside Online

    Hi Everyone,
    This is my first post ever on this forum. I have been using AO for 2 years now. I have a 3rd grader finishing up Year 2 readings. I have a 1st grader who is supposed to start Year 1 readings next year, and a 5 year old who is chomping at the bits to learn to read....and I have a baby on the way in October. I love the richness of the AO literature, albeit sometimes I feel that it's too advanced and that I have to explain just about everything. And I have a voracious reader! I love the structure of my day (Morning Time, Math, Language Arts, Reading, Narration). However....
    1. I find myself searching for guides to go along with Year 3 readings next year because I want something that will make sure she gets the most out of the vocabulary, map work, and content.
    2. I am searching for a language arts curriculum because I don't completely trust the "natural method".
    3. I find that oral, written or drawn narrations become rushed if there is something else to do afterward.
    4. I feel that I want my children to have certain skills such as: searching for answers to questions vs. just writing or talking about what "struck them" as interesting
    5. I feel that it's on my shoulders to remember what the stories were about from pre-reading, and to make sure that the things I feel are important are noted and marked and narrated, etc.

    So perhaps I'm not as CM as I thought because I am in a constant state of low-grade anxiety that my children are capable of SO much more. And it's possible that because things are open-ended in such a way that the kids always want to chince (spelling?) out.

    And yet, when I think of letting go of Ambleside, I get nervous that I'll regret it and then have to go back more behind than when we started (I always planned on starting them on the year behind their grade level).

    But I can't help thinking logically that Memoria Press will offer what I've wanted in AO (rich, older literature to teach from) and add in what I feel has been missing (guides that point things out and make them think and labor independently, guides that help mom not have to think of everything, help mom to help the children rise to a higher standard of effort).

    I've searched for every forum topic I could find on this, but couldn't find many. Maybe the forum changed?

    Also....do I HAVE to do Latin? haha I actually do want the children learning Latin, but I would need to start at Prima Latin for the upcoming 4th grader, right?

    Thank you!

    #2
    Welcome to the MP community! Many have spent time in AO, and we have incorporated so many of their great books (Paddle to the Sea, Minn of the Mississippi, etc). Many of the selections will feel familiar coming from AO (great books, art cards and music study, living books), but I like MP's pacing and procedures better. You might start by reading some of the articles in archive to see how and why they approach "the order of things" the way they do. It made a lot of sense to me, and it may resonate with you, too.

    Latin? Best decision we ever made. I joke that I may or may not have known any Latin prior to MP other than a general knowledge that 1) it existed, and 2) lawyers and living things used its terminology. I now teach a super tiny Second Form Latin class in my home, and I just started going through Third Form so I can teach it in the fall. It is so fun to know Latin because we see derivatives everywhere, and having studied French for so many years, I know it's going to be easy-peasy to add that modern language come high school. It's also been an incredible way to learn English grammar. If you know what job a word has in a sentence in Latin (based on its declension), you definitely can learn it in English. It's like a two-fer.

    I'm laughing at your "maybe I'm not so CM as I thought I was" comment. I spent far too long doing eclectic with a touch of CM before someone told me that I sounded way more Classical than I thought I was. But when many parents come to homeschooling, there is such a strident push-back against anything academic, "workbooky," or rigorous that those almost seem like four-letter words. I remember writing multi-page papers on my educational pedagogy in college where I decried "drill and kill," "seatwork," and "traditional schooling." I laugh about God's sense of humor to have put us in such a wonderful home with Memoria Press. Here, many of those ideas have been foundational lifelines that have brought my children into a world where they pursue wisdom, goodness and virtue while acquiring the skills of reading, writing and communicating beautifully.

    If you need any help with placement, there are so many great mamas who have the same # of littles underfoot. They've marvelously adapted the curriculum to meet the needs of their families.

    Blessings!
    Mama of 2, teacher of 3
    Summer: First Start French I
    SY 22/23
    6A, teaching TFL & CC Chreia/Maxim in group, and Koine Greek
    MP2 w/ R&S Arithmetic 3


    Completed MPK, MP1, MP2, 3A, 4A, 5A
    SC B, SC C, SC1 (Phonics/Math), SC2's Writing Book 1

    Comment


      #3
      Thank you enbateau for your thorough response! It is so encouraging! You are absolutely right about pushing against workbooks when you start out. At first, I was going to PACEs (cringe) from ACE, which I grew up with. Then I was introduced to the CM way of things and started thinking I could offer my kids such a rich education that way that I swung all the way over and became "allergic" to workbooks. I would go so far to say that it's been a sad point of pride on my part to be so much that way, which I think is at the root of trying to let go of AO. But now I'm thinking "Hmmm, workbooks and guides!" But they seem so different from regular workbooks as they guide the children into thinking vs. just filling in the blanks.

      I am thinking that over the summer, I will introduce my kids to a book guide to complete so that they will get a feel for them as we transition into next year.

      Do you find the Core Language Arts books to be necessary with Grammar Recitation and Composition? Or could I just pick one or the other to cover all the bases?

      Thank you!

      Comment


        #4
        Welcome! I also started off with AO briefly and had many of the same frustrations and concerns as you did. We switched completely to MP this year (first and second) and it has been a huge blessing both for me and my kids. I’ve alleviated that sense of missing out on some of the AO reads by incorporating the ones I most want to get to into our read aloud times. I read some at morning time and over lunch so we actually cover a lot of ground that way. And we just read to enjoy and expose…no narration or any other work required unless the kids run with something on their own. So I guess MP is the heart of our academic work and the other books are another part (a very important part) of our well rounded family life.
        2021-2022
        DS1 (7) - MP2
        DD (6) - MP1
        DS2 (3) - SCA
        +6 little souls in Heaven+

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by Brittany View Post
          Also....do I HAVE to do Latin? haha I actually do want the children learning Latin, but I would need to start at Prima Latin for the upcoming 4th grader, right?

          Thank you!
          Only chiming in on Latin. Your 4th grader would probably be happiest starting on Latina Christiana, though they could spend a year on Prima Latina first. I think LC is better suited for that age, and sets up really really well to start the Form series the following year (or so spend 2 years on LC). Once you start First Form Latin, it’s all cumulative, but Latina Christiana is one more introductory course that gets retaught later. The Memoria Press Latin material is written really well for teachers who have no Latin background (I’m not even one lesson ahead of my oldest child!)
          Carrie
          Mom of 5 in Tennessee

          2021-2022
          3rd or 5th year homeschooling - slowly transitioning to more MP
          5th grade girl
          3rd grade boy
          K girl
          Littles running wild

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by CarrieAnne View Post

            Only chiming in on Latin. Your 4th grader would probably be happiest starting on Latina Christiana, though they could spend a year on Prima Latina first. I think LC is better suited for that age, and sets up really really well to start the Form series the following year (or so spend 2 years on LC). Once you start First Form Latin, it’s all cumulative, but Latina Christiana is one more introductory course that gets retaught later. The Memoria Press Latin material is written really well for teachers who have no Latin background (I’m not even one lesson ahead of my oldest child!)
            CarrieAnne, thank you for your response. Do you suggest starting the Grammar and Composition pieces that are in the 3rd grade package with LC so that the concepts line up? Or should I start her in on the next grade level of those subjects? I figure some tweaking and moving around will happen and I'll probably never be able to follow a curriculum manual fully due to starting a little later in the game.

            Comment


              #7
              Also, are the Core Skills Language Arts books necessary? I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible and there seem to be many moving pieces as it is.

              Regarding leaving AO, I believe that my biggest fear is that we'll miss all these wonderful books. I think we would actually enjoy just reading them aloud. Another fear of leaving was that it felt like I had all the flexibility. But trying to avoid a lot of moving pieces, I ended up adding too many things that I had to keep track of myself instead of it being part of a scheduled plan.

              Starting into 4th grade, it looks like there are several cross-over subjects whose first half are completed in the 3rd grade year. Should I do some catch up on any of those over the summer to prepare for 4th grade?

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by Brittany View Post
                Also, are the Core Skills Language Arts books necessary? I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible and there seem to be many moving pieces as it is.

                Regarding leaving AO, I believe that my biggest fear is that we'll miss all these wonderful books. I think we would actually enjoy just reading them aloud. Another fear of leaving was that it felt like I had all the flexibility. But trying to avoid a lot of moving pieces, I ended up adding too many things that I had to keep track of myself instead of it being part of a scheduled plan.

                Starting into 4th grade, it looks like there are several cross-over subjects whose first half are completed in the 3rd grade year. Should I do some catch up on any of those over the summer to prepare for 4th grade?
                You want the curriculum guide for 4th grade new users. It does the full year of all those books, so no need to start over the summer. Latina Christiana is 1-yr in that package. It actually makes 4th grade a really straightforward time to start, since the standard plan slows the pace a bit and covers material across 3rd and 4th. I think Fable is a great composition program, personally, but you will want to read or watch some of the Memoria Press explanations of the program before you start. Partly so you know about how to approach the book (that you aren’t expected to finish it in the year), and to understand their vision for a writing program. Grammar is a straightforward addition that fits with the others great, though it isn’t personally my favorite English grammar option. As for the Core Skills books, I don’t use them but my understanding is they really are supplements to reinforce concepts. You can probably skip if your student catches on quickly, or just go ahead and buy them but don’t assign anything your student clearly doesn’t need to work on.
                Carrie
                Mom of 5 in Tennessee

                2021-2022
                3rd or 5th year homeschooling - slowly transitioning to more MP
                5th grade girl
                3rd grade boy
                K girl
                Littles running wild

                Comment


                  #9
                  The Core Skill books are essential. The book is relatively inexpensive. I get it each year to reinforce grammar concepts as needed. One of mine doesn’t need the reinforcement so Core Skills is one of the first things to be dropped. A different child needs more practice so we usually go over the assigned pages.

                  As far as your concern of losing flexibility, I find MP’s plan and curriculum manual freeing. I like to think of it like baking chocolate chip cookies. When I was first learning to bake, I had to follow the recipe carefully and exactly. As the recipe became more familiar and my confidence in baking grew, I was able to make substitutions or adapt the recipe to my personal tastes. When we first began MP, I had to follow the lesson plans because I didn’t understand everything. Now that I’m more familiar with everything, I find I have more flexibility. I can take time on one thing or pick up the pace somewhere else more easily because MP is consistent in their lessons. I’m not worried about how the subjects or years will come together or spend time planning or hopping between because I know everything fits beautifully together. The simplicity of it all provides flexibility.
                  Heidi

                  For 2021-22
                  dd- 6th
                  ds- 3rd
                  dd- 1st
                  ds- adding smiles and distractions

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Brittany View Post
                    Also, are the Core Skills Language Arts books necessary? I'm trying to keep it as simple as possible and there seem to be many moving pieces as it is.

                    Regarding leaving AO, I believe that my biggest fear is that we'll miss all these wonderful books. I think we would actually enjoy just reading them aloud. Another fear of leaving was that it felt like I had all the flexibility. But trying to avoid a lot of moving pieces, I ended up adding too many things that I had to keep track of myself instead of it being part of a scheduled plan.

                    Starting into 4th grade, it looks like there are several cross-over subjects whose first half are completed in the 3rd grade year. Should I do some catch up on any of those over the summer to prepare for 4th grade?
                    I vote to keep the Core Skills books in the mix. The curriculum manual usually schedules 1-3 pages per week from these, picking pages that (mostly) relate to the weekly lesson in English Grammar Recitation. We find the extra practice very beneficial and it doesn't take up much time.

                    I wanted to speak to your fear of missing wonderful books and also of missing flexibility. We've used MP from the beginning, but I've read similar concerns from others on these forums. I love the peace that comes with following the MP plan and knowing that everything scheduled at every level is something beautiful and important that I will be glad they studied, that the parts fit together and build on one another to produce deeper understanding over time, and that if we only study these books in depth they will have had a solid and worthwhile education. Of course there are MANY other good (great!) books and subjects to explore. Our kids read a lot of other things in their non-school time, and almost every evening my husband reads aloud to the whole family, which is where we discover LOTS of other books we love and revisit ones from our own childhoods that we want the kids to experience. In that forum, vocabulary is a completely natural study when we pause to clarify or look up something we don't understand. Narration also occurs naturally as the kids recall what happened last if we've had a few days' interruption. I would encourage you that you can read and enjoy literally hundreds of books in a few years of family read-aloud time, without requiring a formal study of them. As for flexibility, it sounds like you may be struggling with too much open-endedness and lack of structure around literature study. You may really enjoy letting the well-written MP guides do the heavy lifting for you on that, freeing you from some of that "decision fatigue." No lie, MP is demanding to teach, but it's very well-defined.
                    Amy

                    Fall 2022:
                    DS 14 9th
                    DD 12 7th
                    DS 10 5th
                    DD 7 2nd
                    DS 5 K
                    DS 2

                    Comment


                      #11
                      For Core Skills: the manual specifically says these pages are optional. So if you're worried about too many workbooks along with EGR and a new composition program, you can feel free to skip for now with the MP folks' blessing.

                      For composition: we are doing 4NU for my daughter next year, but I subbed out IEW's All things fun and fascinating, because I thought that was closer to where she is on writing. I also liked the look of "Intro to Composition" which uses passages from Farmer Boy, but this is an either/or choice and I went with ATFF. In either case, fyi, the MP customer service people can send you those plans for free if you are getting a package!

                      2nd grade graduated literature start: again, this is just a PSA, but I saw an older thread that said MP had a modified set of 2nd grade literature plans for those new to MP (originally intended for schools transitioning to MP materials). In case your reader isn't 100% ready to roll into 2nd grade lit on their own, these plans start with More Storytime Treasures (which uses real classic picture books) and the little house Christmas stories before moving on to 2nd grade picks like Prairie School and Courage of Sarah Noble, etc. I called and they sent them to me to review for free before I ordered so I could get the right books.

                      One of my issues with CM is that you aren't supposed to explain anything in the reading, because then you are forcing your own views instead of letting the child make his or her own connections. In practice I think this is totally unrealistic and lots of things need lots of explaining and discussion. The second problem I have is that, although many moms love the "natural" way of doing something (like transitioning from oral to written narrations, and from written narrations to persuasive or other types of writing), I never found it "easier" to do this. I need it all laid out explicitly for my tired brain.

                      Finally I just want to add that when your kids are a little older and more independent, it's not hard to "strew" quality books and audiobooks around your house and have the kids picks them up for fun. They can do Legos or crochet and listen, etc. You don't have to give up those books.
                      Emily
                      2022-2023: first year with MP cores

                      DS - 12 MP 7
                      DD - 9 MP 4
                      DD - 7 MP 2
                      DD - 5 MP K
                      DD - 4
                      DS - 2
                      DD - new baby

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Agreeing with everyone above about the encouragement that 'there will be plenty of time for leisure books.' Physical books, audiobooks, etc. are a mainstay in every homeschool I'm personally aware of. Use those lists to your advantage for buying presents, buying used, and reserving from libraries. It is not uncommon for my four kids to be reading for leisure after the school work day is done (or at breakfast, or lunch, or casual dinners... Always books on the eating table with *kitchen towels* as bookmarks. Facepalm.) It sounds backwards, but they have truly gained access to all the books by learning to be great readers using a few of the best books along with the MP guides.

                        As a consolation, we will all miss many books. It's a 100% guarantee. That's what the rest of their lives are for, including as they read to their own children one day!
                        Festina lentē,
                        Jessica P

                        '22-'23 • 13th year HSing • 11th year MP
                        DS Hillsdale College freshman
                        DD 11th • HLN & Latin online
                        DD 8th • HLN & Home
                        DS 5th • HLN & Home
                        Me • Memoria College, MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

                        Teaching Third Form Latin and co-directing @
                        Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Originally posted by smithamykat View Post
                          As for flexibility, it sounds like you may be struggling with too much open-endedness and lack of structure around literature study. You may really enjoy letting the well-written MP guides do the heavy lifting for you on that, freeing you from some of that "decision fatigue." No lie, MP is demanding to teach, but it's very well-defined.
                          Yes! Thank you for this! I understand that MP is going to be rigorous for me and for my kids, but I'm looking forward to devoting my energy to working on the quality material that is already provided and is there for a reason instead of constantly racking my brain to connect all the dots.


                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by Emily L View Post
                            For Core Skills: the manual specifically says these pages are optional. So if you're worried about too many workbooks along with EGR and a new composition program, you can feel free to skip for now with the MP folks' blessing.

                            For composition: we are doing 4NU for my daughter next year, but I subbed out IEW's All things fun and fascinating, because I thought that was closer to where she is on writing. I also liked the look of "Intro to Composition" which uses passages from Farmer Boy, but this is an either/or choice and I went with ATFF. In either case, fyi, the MP customer service people can send you those plans for free if you are getting a package!

                            2nd grade graduated literature start: again, this is just a PSA, but I saw an older thread that said MP had a modified set of 2nd grade literature plans for those new to MP (originally intended for schools transitioning to MP materials). In case your reader isn't 100% ready to roll into 2nd grade lit on their own, these plans start with More Storytime Treasures (which uses real classic picture books) and the little house Christmas stories before moving on to 2nd grade picks like Prairie School and Courage of Sarah Noble, etc. I called and they sent them to me to review for free before I ordered so I could get the right books.

                            One of my issues with CM is that you aren't supposed to explain anything in the reading, because then you are forcing your own views instead of letting the child make his or her own connections. In practice I think this is totally unrealistic and lots of things need lots of explaining and discussion. The second problem I have is that, although many moms love the "natural" way of doing something (like transitioning from oral to written narrations, and from written narrations to persuasive or other types of writing), I never found it "easier" to do this. I need it all laid out explicitly for my tired brain.

                            Finally I just want to add that when your kids are a little older and more independent, it's not hard to "strew" quality books and audiobooks around your house and have the kids picks them up for fun. They can do Legos or crochet and listen, etc. You don't have to give up those books.
                            I want to look into that option for a new 2nd grader. Thanks for letting me know about that.

                            Also, you hit the nail on the head about it not being easier to follow the natural path of writing. It seems like a nice ideal. That was one of my frustrations is that it puts all the deciding on my shoulders every day. And what was happening is that the effort was many times wonderful, but most times lacking because there isn't really a ruberic or goal to reach. I would rather decide to scale back than always wonder if I'm doing enough.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
                              Agreeing with everyone above about the encouragement that 'there will be plenty of time for leisure books.' Physical books, audiobooks, etc. are a mainstay in every homeschool I'm personally aware of. Use those lists to your advantage for buying presents, buying used, and reserving from libraries. It is not uncommon for my four kids to be reading for leisure after the school work day is done (or at breakfast, or lunch, or casual dinners... Always books on the eating table with *kitchen towels* as bookmarks. Facepalm.) It sounds backwards, but they have truly gained access to all the books by learning to be great readers using a few of the best books along with the MP guides.

                              As a consolation, we will all miss many books. It's a 100% guarantee. That's what the rest of their lives are for, including as they read to their own children one day!
                              Jessica, thank you for responding. I remember that long ago, a post of yours inspired me to consider MP and I have never been able to find it again. It had something to do with your being up super late one night trying to schedule and piece everything CM together, feeling exhausted and defeated, and then stumbling upon MP and feeling like it offered everything you were looking for in a package. I read that back when I was in my first year of AO and having doubts about the CM method. And I am starting to see that what it really comes down to is that I'm afraid to let go of the "method". But if I'm constantly doubting a method, how great can that be for my family?

                              What I want is to land. And then I want to enjoy all our books freely without it having to be narrated all the time. Like I've heard some moms on here say before: "MP in education, CM in mothering" or something like that.

                              Thank you, ladies! I never expected so much response!! It's encouraging at a time when I need a lot of help launching.

                              Comment

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