It can be a bit overwhelming to set up your daily schedule when you first begin to homeschool, especially if you are not following an open and go curriculum but rather following a Charlotte Mason philosophy and a curriculum like Ambleside Online. There is a ton of information and ideas to find and process while figuring out how it is going to look in your family.
When I first started learning about the Charlotte Mason Method a few years ago I chose Ambleside Online as my curriculum, mostly because it was free and we didn’t have much money to spare at the time. And at first I was pretty overwhelmed looking at all the booklists and trying to figure it all out. However as the years have passed not only has it become easier but I have fallen in love with the booklists and resources offered! It is all so rich and deep. My children are getting an amazing education!
Here I am going to share a few tips(and some free resources!) to help smooth your transition to homeschooling using the Charlotte Mason philosophy and Ambleside Online.
Step #1 Start Slow
When starting anything new there is huge learning curve, and this is no different. When I first started using Ambleside Online I didn’t do everything, I didn’t often get to art or composer study, I didn’t know what else to do for geography other than read the listed books, we didn’t even touch foreign language. And that’s Okay! Start with what you do know how to do.
But then don’t stop there. Keep learning yourself and then slowly add in the next thing as you are able.I would recommend starting to read through Charlotte masons Volumes. I am in Volume 2, Volume , Home Education took me a year to read. I learned so much. Another favorite way for me to learn about specific areas as I get ready to implement them is the Delectable Education Podcast. Just a note that these ladies do a lot of reserach and give a ton of info, and some people feel overwhelmed if they can not do it exactly the way they talk about it. I just implement what I can, when I can.
Step #2 Print Out Everything from the AO Website
I start every schoolyear by printing all the booklists for each AO year I will be using(these can be found on the left side of the Ambleside Online Curriclum page. This year we are using Year 2 and Year 4. I also print out the weekly schedule which is found at the top of each years booklist. Next at the top of that page I also download and print the PDF printable chart of the weekly breakdown. Finally I also print out the rotation lists for the artist, composer, hymn, folksong, nature study, and poets, which can be found on the left side of the page below the yearly curriculum.
Step #3 Grab a Notebook
Next I take a notebook or a bunch of scratch paper and write down tons of notes. I make lists of what subjects are daily and which are weekly. For example Math, Bible and Copywork are Daily; Artist Study, Handicrafts, and Nature Study we do weekly. I also determine which subjects are done individually and which are group subjects; and also which can be done independently or need my help for each student. Finally I assign a time to each subject. An example would be Artist study- we do it together as a group and I have assigned 10 minutes a week for it. Another example, math is an individual subject allotted 20 minutes daily for 1 student and 30 minutes daily for the other and I need to do some of the lesson with each of them.
For the readings from the Ambleside booklists I just figure out the average number of readings per week (this accounts splitting some of the longer ones into 2 readings), divide that by the number of school days(currently we do a 5 day school week, but we have done 4 days especially in the younger years) and schedule that number of readings each day. I scheduled 30 minutes per reading into the schedule, although my younger student should usually take less.
Step #4 Arrange the Blocks
At this point I created blocks for each subject correlating with the amount of time for each and cut them out. I think one year I just used lined notebook paper and had each line represent 10 minutes or something like that. But however you want to do it would work. The point is to have a visual, movable representation of the schedule. Now you can play around with arranging the blocks. You might like all the group subjects first, or at the end, or dispersed throughout your day. You can make sure the times when your students need one on one attention don’t overlap. This phase was the trickiest for me, sometimes I would just let it sit for awhile so I could think about it. When I finally decided on the order I liked I snapped a photo with my phone.
Step # 5 Final Schedule
Finally I took the photo from the exercise above and created all my final schedules with them. I like to use Microsoft excel spreadsheets for mine. I created a Master schedule, and schedules for each student with blanks for AO readings each week and I also created a term schedule of our group subjects. All of these files will be linked below as help visualizing in your own planning process. In my next post I will show how I use my schedules each week and how it all works together.
Here is where you can download each of my sample schedules:
I hope this post was helpful! If you have any questions, drop a comment below. I love to hear from you!