The School Year

The Deats

We are currently in our sixth year of homeschooling, with my oldest being the only one to ever attend public school, and that was a half-day of pre-K.  The boys are ages 10, 7, 5, & 4.  That corresponds to 5th & 1st grades, pre-K, and preschool.  We are using Ambleside Online Years 4 & 1 for our curriculum.


Like most moms, when I began homeschooling I had no idea what I was doing.  That first year it looked a lot like a public school pre-K program in my house.  I even tried to get the toddler in on the action with busy bags, tot trays, and preschool curriculum.  Then we quickly added two more boys to the mix, and I knew that way of school was a disaster.

That began my journey into the world of classical education where I latched onto a lot of neo-classical ideas like writing down narrations and memorizing stuff.  We stumbled through that for a few years, but I continued to struggle with it.

Finally, I re-investigated Charlotte Mason with a more open mind, came to realize how much her philosophy was rooted in true classical education, and have completely adopted her way of thinking (for the most part.)  After much deliberation on how to build a CM based curriculum, I settled on using Ambleside Online with a few Catholic tweaks.

2016-2017 School Year

AO (Ambleside Online) is a challenging curriculum, so I decided to start Alex with Year 4 instead of Year 5.  Ryan, being almost 7 at the beginning of our school year in June 2016, started with Year 1.  Things went smoothly, albeit s l o w l y.  Then my CM support group began earnestly planning a fine arts co-op to begin in September 2016.  I pretty much dropped all fine arts stuff from my schedule and we joined the co-op.  (I teach the 3rd-5th grade class.)  I really wish I would have known about the co-op before we started the year.

Anywho – it took us more than 6 months to finish the first term, and I had no idea how many days we had ‘done school.’  So in January of 2017, I decided to just start over counting our school days for the calendar year, and we would just plug along through the terms at whatever pace it needs to be.  I’ll take a break for a day or week as needed.

April 2017 Update – Co-op is finished and we are halfway through term 2 of our AO years.  May – July are very busy months for us with non-school stuff, so I have two options:  finish term 2 and coincide term 3 with the beginning of co-op in September 2017 or finish term 2 and have an abbreviated term 3 over the summer months. I have no idea which one of these I will accomplish.  It really depends on how May goes and how much school we can do.

Ambleside Online Year 4

If you want to know the exact details of the syllabus for AO YR 4, please see the Ambleside website.  Below are the additions, deletions, details, and changes that I have made.  If a particular book or subject is not mentioned, you can assume that we covered it as written in the AO schedule.  The underlined titles are books that are my choices and not on AO at all.

BIBLE:  For 5th grade, the Religious Education teacher challenges the students to read the entire New Testament, so that is what Alex did to replace the AO Bible readings.

RELIGION:  Since AO was developed by Protestant families, I have to add some things to make it Catholic.  The Bible is not the totality of our faith, though obviously a cornerstone.  Most of the boys’ religious education comes from simply being a part of this family: attending & serving at Mass, daily prayer & devotions, and Reconciliation.  As far as the curriculum, YR 4 includes lessons from the Baltimore Catechism #2 and selections from Angel Food Stories Book One.

HISTORY TALES/BIOGRAPHY:  Trial and Triumph has been replaced by a more in depth look at the life of a particular saint during the time period that we are studying for history.  Term 1 was Saint Isaac and the Indians and  term 2 is Father Marquette and the Great River.  Term 3 is supposed to be St. Junipero Serra, The First Californian.  This will be moved to YR5 if we do an abbreviated term 3 this summer.

GEOGRAPHY: I dropped pretty much everything for this.  Alex joined Ryan in reading Paddle-to-the-Sea and worked on memorizing major cities of the United Kingdom using Seterra Online.

NATURAL HISTORY/SCIENCE:  We tried Madam How and Lady Why, but just couldn’t get into that book, so it was dropped.  I tried replacing it with some science textbooks (Mr. Q Classic Science Elementary Physics and Chemistry,) but since those are not living books, and I still can’t get around to doing experiments, we sort of dropped those, too.  They are a fun read and we do like them.

COPYWORK:  Cursive copywork is practiced twice a week using quotes from the YR 4 books.  I use WorksheetsWork to make and print my own.  We began the year doing copywork and dictation using Spelling You See Level D, but abandoned that after term 1.

FOREIGN LANGUAGE – LATIN:  Finished up Prima Latina and moved on to Latina Christiana 1.

WEEKLY LESSONS:  We aren’t starting Plutarch, yet.  Timelines just aren’t happening either.  Grammar is covered with Latin.  For Art, we typically use Drawing Textbook when we get around to it or join a class at the local art center. Recitation – eh.

DAILY LESSONS:  Math is Math-U-See Epsilon and BigBrainz for drill.  No musical instruments around here, yet.

FINE ARTS & POETRY:  See the CM Co-op page for more details.

Ambleside Online Year 1

I made very few changes to the syllabus here.

BIBLE & RELIGION:  We are finishing Bible History that was started in Kindergarten.  I also write out Ryan’s narration in a blank book and he illustrates the story.

HISTORY:  Replace Trial and Triumph with a list of saint stories in chronological order from a variety of sources, and we try to cover one per week.

COPYWORK:  Quotes from YR 1 books.

PHONICS/READING:  Finished McGuffey Primer and working on Catholic National Reader Primer & Book One.

MATH:  Math-U-See Alpha

FOREIGN LANGUAGE:  We’ve listened to a few Spanish songs from YouTube and Ryan sits in on Latin occasionally.

LITERATURE:  I cut the Shakespeare retellings since that is covered a bit in co-op.