Thank you for all of the questions about Homeschooling a Large Family with Ambleside. In this post I’m going to answer some of the ‘easy’ questions. Eventually, I will get out some posts that answer some of the questions that require something more in-depth.
I noticed you group your children, with 3 working through Ambleside year four and 2 working through Ambleside year one. Do you simply skip certain Ambleside years with some kids so as to keep them together? Are you planning to do Ambleside instead of Sonlight now with your up and coming little crowd?
I do not have a long-term plan to skip Ambleside years. As you know, the years do not correspond to grades, so they will be suitable for a wide age range of kids.
Additionally, my group of three children who are working in Ambleside Year 4 are really all very close to the same academic level. They are within 2 1/1 years of each other in age, so reading through the same books is appropriate for them.
As they move into high school, math and science may look different for each of them, but maybe not. Two of our older kids are the same academic year in high school even though they are different ages (one will graduate when he’s 16). So that may also happen with these three.
I am planning on using Ambleside with my up and coming little ones. We switched to Ambleside because two of our middle children are not primarily auditory learners and I personally think that Sonlight is geared more toward auditory learning (most educational systems are). That said, our children are continuing to read Sonlight books during their free reading time and I intend to cover the War Between the States with the Sonlight materials, as I was extremely pleased with how balanced and fair the selection of books was for that time period.
I would love to hear what math and science you recommend?
One thing that I have learned over our homeschooling years is that different curricula works for different kids and different families at different times. So I will not give you a recommendation, but I will tell you what we are currently using.
First, our children love math and science. Even our children who are not naturally inclined toward math and science now enjoy those subjects and I do think these curricula choices are a factor. Also, the combination of these two programs has allowed our children to work quickly (remember that several of them finished the school year months early) and easily through these books with very little parental help. I’m not sure if this is because they are good independent learners or if it’s because both of these programs are designed for independent learning or perhaps a combination, but that is a benefit to our family.
Science – Apologia - We have used this for 5-6 years and love it. It’s biblical, rigorous and a good fit for our family.
Math – Life of Fred – We’ve used this for 4-5 years and love it also. If you want lots of drill and repetition then this is not the program for you. Life of Fred uses all word problems and teaches the children how to think deeply and apply mathematics. It does not require a lot of rote memorization.
We do not use Life of Fred with our elementary kids. Our children generally begin Life of Fred somewhere in middle school with the fractions book and then our kids have continued on with Algebra 1 and 2, Geometry and Trigonometry.
Before Life of Fred, our math program is much less formal. We simply require our children to memorize their math facts and become proficient in addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
What time do you begin “Basket Time” in order to finish around lunchtime?
The goal is to start our school day by 7:30 or 8. Our Morning Basket usually takes about an hour and a half, so we are usually finished by 9:30 or 10.
Ideally I prefer to have my main teaching responsibilities done by lunch time. And although, it’s not uncommon for the middle kids to be narrating to me in the late afternoon, I am generally finished with all the group teaching (morning basket and reading aloud to the middle kids) and the little ones (7 and 6 year old) by lunch time.
Do you let the littlest play outside unsupervised?
We have a terrific deck that is completely fenced and is very visible from both of our main living areas and Bella (3) and Valor (1) are allowed to play out on the deck during school time. We do allow Bella to play in the back yard with Colby (7) and Nicholas (6), but one of the older kids needs to be outside to supervise if Valor goes out.
How do you handle lunch prep?
This varies by day. The 4 oldest children get their own lunch. Sometimes I’ll make lunch for the youngest 7, sometimes one of the older children will volunteer to do it and sometimes one of the youngest 7 will get lunch for everyone.
I used to use this menu plan for breakfast and lunch. Now, we are more fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants. It’s easier to be that way with older children.
My question is, do you plan for your children to go to college?
The short answer is, it depends.
Currently two of our three children in high school have plans to attend college, one believes that God has called her to get an RN degree and one is interested in chemical engineering.
That said, we have no desire for our children to go to college because that’s what ‘everyone’ does, but we do want our children to be prepared for the life that God has called them and for some of them this will require a college.
I’m overwhelmed, how do you keep up with everything, especially all the levels of math and grammar?
The actual question was about when our kids start working independently and I hope to address this in regard to Ambleside in a separate post, but this question was specifically about grammar and math.
I know that this advice is not popular, but I’ll give it anyway. Our children do not begin formal instruction in math and grammar until they are older, about age 10 or so depending on the child. They do daily copy work and/or dictation and they have a lot of exposure to numbers, adding subtracting, fractions, etc. through daily life, but we delay formal instruction in both of these subjects until a bit later and so far this has worked well for us and for our kids.
Laura asked, What do you do for those who don’t get it (school work) all done?
The underlying issue with this question is diligence. Perhaps these posts on teaching diligence will help.
Hannah said, “I’ve just heard its (homeschooling) pricey so I wasn’t sure I could afford it.”
Ambleside Online is a free homeschooling plan. They also provide links so that you can obtain most of the books that they use for free or very low cost.
You may also be interested in:
- Homeschooling a Large Family with Ambleside – the first post in this series
- Teaching Grammar
- Teaching Composition
- Teaching Diligence
- Practical ways to teach diligence
- Breakfast and lunch menu plan
- Ambleside Online
- Homeschooling with Sonlight