Thursday, April 28, 2022

Ambleside Year 1 Thoughts

In just three weeks we will be done with Year One from Ambleside Online, the curriculum we used for 1st grade.

This is a general post on my thoughts, what I learned, what I would change, what we liked and what we didn't. 

I was very apprehensive about Ambleside Online before I started. I was scared I couldn't do it because of my chronic illness. I was worried I was too stupid, that it was too hard. In fact, I was so worried I actually started out in August of 2021 doing my own "curriculum" and thinking I would put off Ambleside for another year but it wasn't...working. Reuben was six, and he was ready. I decided to jump right in and started full Ambleside in September of 2021. 

my two sillies

I'll be honest. We fell right in love. It is not hard, it is not confusing, and it takes about an hour a day, 4-5 days a week. Ambleside is rich, the readings are life-giving; the books are rivers of living water to the parched American soul. The current 6-year old American soul is being fed a steady diet of Disney plus, ticktock, and 60 second board books. The books in the Ambleside curriculum are living in every sense of the word. I might have known what a living book was in definition, but I know now what a living book is because I myself have been nourished from them. And I will never be the same.

I needed to read Trial and Triumph and Parables of Nature just as much (or maybe more so) than my son did. It filled some hole in my soul I wasn't aware that I had.

During term one, we did not add in any foreign language. This was the only thing we "dropped" from the curriculum. Every other scheduled reading we did as assigned. I just wasn't ready to add in a foreign language yet--it was enough for me try to figure out nature study, picture study, and music study! For term one, Reuben's favorite book was Trial and Triumph (T&T) and his least favorite was the Blue Fairy Book. He also loved Just So Stories. I think my least favorite was Burgess Bird-- mostly because I always forgot to do the prep work in advance (print off the coloring page and find a picture of the bird we would be discussing/ load the video beforehand). Also, teaching a subject I know almost nothing about was very challenging. I know what a bird is, but beyond that... however, now at the end of year one, I know a few birds by sight! Reuben can recognize Robins--we have a family of them who live in some trees in our backyard. It is amazing to hear the birds twitter and recognize them as friends. 

I think my favorite book is Island Story. Learning the history of Great Britain from such a beautiful book has been very fun!

I thought since Reuben is very sensitive he might be afraid of some of the more sensitive readings (like Trial and Triumph) but he was not. He may not be able to watch television because he gets really afraid at any sign of suspense; but apparently living books are not scary. I hope my son never faces anything like the things the brave Christians faced in T&T but hopefully these stories will give him courage. Reading Trials taught me that every age faces some kind of persecution. We, in the 2000s, are not perfect, and each age will face trials. We need to be watchful, wary, and in the word. 

I got through term one while battling serious autoimmune issues and also doing two co-ops (yes I am insane). We dropped one co-op. And caught Omicron in December. Reuben and Brian were sick for three weeks. It was a really hard time. I started term two of Ambleside a week later than I expected because of illness recovery, but I give thanks to God that I have learned so much, and come so far. 

We finished term two mid April, and are on week 27 of term 3! Hopefully (baring any illnesses) I will make it to week 30 before our summer break. I plan on finishing up the last six weeks of term three in August, and staring on Year 2 in September. 

Some notes on our choices (like math/ learning how to read)

For Math, we did Masterbooks Year One. I loved how it taught math through storytelling, and how short the lessons were. I did not like the way they taught numbers, but I got over it. They use "houses" (like a 10s house and a 100s house) to teach place value, and it got to be a little much using beans and the such to count. I would rather have used an abacus---and many times we abandoned the place value village they use and just used our abacus, so meh. Reuben actually just finished the year one book, so I picked up Masterbooks Year Two and we have started on that this week. 

For reading lessons, we did the delightful reading kits from SCM. We did the first kit, which I loved, for half of kindergarten and through term 1. When we started term 2 we started the second delightful reading kit. I liked this one less. It comes with letter cards that you have to sort through each time you do a lesson and they are extremely annoying. I feel like I spend 10 minutes trying to find the correct letters for the short 5-10 minute lesson!! We just quit using them and started using a white board and that helped my frustration a lot. I will save these kits to do with Becky when she starts school! 

What didn't I like? I am not a fan of A Child's Book of Poems by Gyo Fujisawa. For term one and term two, the poems are delightful, and all by the same author (term one is Robert Stevenson and term two is A. A. Milne). The book for term three is filled with poems by so many different authors that, to me, it does not have the same endearing continuity that the first two terms have. Reuben does not seem to have an issue with it, at least he has not said anything (and I keep my thoughts to myself about his curriculum, I don't want to influence him). In fact he LOVED the poem we just read about Winkin, Blinkn and Nod, and he always begs to read more than one poem (and I usually oblige him). 

In term two we also added in some light Spanish language--we are using short videos from this channel. I need to pick an actual curriculum I guess? Perhaps I will find one over the summer before Year Two. We also added in a Timeline in term two--just one of Reuben's own life, starting the year my husband and I were married. It's been fun. We added his birthday, his sisters birthday, and the start of covid-19 to his line. What history he has seen in his short six years!

Another thing I love about Ambleside is maps; I printed off a map of the area of study (there are links in the Ambleside forums for maps) at the beginning of the term and placed a map in each book so we can look at it as we read. It is awesome to see and trace the very place he just finished narrating about on tangible paper. 

We did all the free reads. I read all the books to him except for the Red Fairy Book. After slogging through about 1/4 of it I switched to the audiobook and I have never been happier. Now we listen to 1-2 stories from the Red Fairy Book every 2-3 days. Those stories are so long and I would get so tired reading them!! I would say, collectively, Charlottes Web and Little House in the Big Woods were our favorite free reads. We even read half of Charlottes Web over again! I did not quite understand Pinocchio or the King of the Golden River, but Reuben loved them so I kept reading.

And that was year one. Now near the end, I am doing very well health wise, and looking forward to a nice summer break and Year Two free reads. 

How are you? If you did Ambleside--I would love to know your thoughts! I didn't talk about narration, and I am sure I missed other things; let me know if you have any questions. Goodnight and God bless.

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