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Last night I spent some time going over the curriculum and methodology of a wonderful site I stumbled upon a few months ago: Ambleside Online. I had actually talked to another CM mom I know, and it turns out she used it for her older kids.

It’s basically a comprehensive book list and attack plan for every year. I have been waffling about which curriculum I want to et for each subject v. A comprehensive plan v. Just getting various books at the library, and this is essentially the answer to my prayers.

Each year has a book and supply list for the 36 week schedule that is further divided into three terms. Each term covers a different classical music composer and artist, which are studied in accordance with CM principles. The books are high quality, challenging, classical literature. Included in every level of study are readings by Plutarch, Shakespeare, and Bible study. Since we are Jewish, I plan to substitute the weekly Torah portion for the weekly bible study– agnostics could easily substitute something else, but the premise running throughout the plan is character development and growing into a righteous person.

The plan also includes study of poetry, folk songs, hymns, foreign language, and Math (which requires a separate program).

Additionally, the main hallmarks in a CM education, aside from exposure to quality books and materials, is learning about nature through experiencing it, so book lists include field guides for trees, plants, and animals, and each term has it’s own nature study. Students maintain their own individual nature journals with information about what they see, when, what the other conditions are, and drawings, lea or flower presses, etc.

Perhaps most central to the CM type of education are the hallmarks of copy work, dictation, and narration. These become more central and difficult as the child ages, but training a child how to “see” and observe things wholly begins at the beginning, so to speak. Parents additionally ask their children to repeat back as much of a story as they can remember to practice these skills.

There is also an emphasis on practical life, teaching the child life skills, and development of meaningful handicrafts that the child spends lots of time on–rather than quick arts and crafts type projects that will eventually be thrown away. Examples of this include things like sewing or needlepoint. There is a list of recommended books for this as well.

There is obviously more to that than this brief overview, but I think it gives you a pretty good idea of the main points. If you are considering a CM education for your child, I highly recommend checking it out! Ambleside Online

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