What I’ve learned about Curriculum and Charlotte Mason’s Philosophies (and Ambleside Online…)

If you’re like me, trying to embrace a Charlotte Mason education, I understand your journey.  Or at least, large parts of your journey.

And, please, trust me when I say this – If we are embracing a Charlotte Mason home education, our days with our children should be (mostly) – freeing, spiritual, joyous, authentic, peaceful, natural, and inspiring a love of learning in us all.  If our days are not doing these things (at least most of the time), there is probably something wrong with our approach to implementing this beautiful philosophy into our homes.  (And I’ve been there… more times than one…)

When I first started trying to wrap my mind around Charlotte Mason’s philosophies, I was incredibly overwhelmed.  There just seemed to be so much to take in, to understand, to work towards.

But more than 5 years in, and I now see more clearly – yes, Charlotte’s philosophies are profound – but her ways?  They are actually quite simple and incredibly gentle.

Charlotte’s methods were never meant to overwhelm Mothers.  Quite the opposite, in fact – in their truest form, they are a breath of fresh air, so freeing and liberating to embrace!

I’ve really learned quite a bit about embracing a Charlotte Mason education in the past several years.   These lessons have come through wonderful mentors, countless books and articles, and many mistakes.  I’ve also watched many other Moms both succeed and struggle right along with me.

It’s a bit of a touchy subject, but I wanted to comment on something I feel is quite important.  Especially in the social media, web-based world we now live in…  

Many well-meaning Charlotte Mason home schooling Moms quickly recommend using  Ambleside Online to ‘do’ Charlotte Mason.

I felt the same way – if I really wanted to embrace Charlotte’s ways and reap the benefits – I had to use Ambleside.  I have no idea why this idea prevails, but in many (MANY) circles, it does.

But it just isn’t true, my friends.  Stick with me here, I promise, I’m not throwing online tomatoes at Ambleside Online (I actually love the site for many reasons, which I’ll get to in another post…)!


It is very, very easy to get lost in a sea of massive book lists and strictly outlined ‘curriculum’.   Even in the world of Charlotte Mason.  This curriculum can (and just might) steal your joy and your child’s joy if it isn’t the right fit.  This is how I know…

Here’s how it went with me:

Visit Ambleside Online after recommendations from other Charlotte Mason Moms.

Stare blankly for way too long, trying to wrap my mind around what I’m even looking at.

Realize about two hours later how absolutely incredible this site is and what a RESOURCE!

Do a happy dance that now, my Charlotte Mason education is all figured out!  I just follow this recipe right here!

Spend two weeks consumed with printing out all the required readings and schedules for the three years where my kids fit.

Spend even more time and money trying to acquire all the books.

Become obsessed with downloading free Kindle books onto the iPad.  (Don’t even get yourself started…)

Line everything up just perfectly and wait for the first week.

Then, the first week passes and…

Pretty much everything falls to pieces.

There are WAY too many readings for us to keep up with.

I am trying to cover three separate time periods with three very different children.  (I honestly have no idea how you Ambleside Mamas do this… it is CRAZY!)

My eldest dislikes almost all his books (and he’s a prolific reader).

My middle child has no natural interest in any (ANY) of the history topics, which form the spine of the program.

My youngest is in the clouds dreaming of Lego and how to achieve better blasting sound effects.

We are quickly losing our peace, joy, authenticity, joy of learning…

And I become incredibly discouraged.  

I think to myself, well…  I should really follow these specific outlines and read these books… (which in some cases, were way too hard for our children, irrelevant to our geographical area and interests, or just didn’t fit our beliefs or family values/philosophies) because, well, this is what all those Charlotte Mason people recommend.

Ladies – I’m not sure how Ambleside Online became the go-to for Charlotte Mason educators, but it truly is only a potential resource.  (One of many, many potential resources out there!)  It was created by a group of Moms, just like you and I.

The wonderful ladies who put together Ambleside Online even state it themselves – the site is merely a resource and not a recipe for a successful Charlotte Mason education.

There are parts of Ambleside Online that really work for us.

Some of the book recommendations have been fantastic and we are using some of them in our daily learning.  I love the suggestions for poet studies and picture studies, and looking through and using suggested titles for living books is also very helpful.

But, I’ll be honest, there is a whole lot that does’t work for our family.  And for a while, I really let that get to me.

And I’ve also watched so many Moms struggle in the same ways.  I’ve read numerous comments similar to these:

‘Neither myself or my child liked those books, but we trudged through anyways…’.


‘I really don’t like the content of (insert book name), but we read it anyways, since it was on the schedule’.

And what about:

‘My son doesn’t like those books at all, but he knows he has to read them – its part of school, and that’s that.’

I’m not judging anyone, sweet friends… but when I read stuff like that, I just feel sad and confused.

And I just don’t understand – if we are passionate about embracing Charlotte Mason’s ways -why are we pushing books that go against our own personal convictions or simply aren’t working for our children?  

If a living book isn’t ‘living’ for your child, I’m convinced much of what Charlotte wanted for us is lost.  

You know that wonderful connection – that interest-based, self-led, excited learning process.  That inspired, thought-provoking experience is far less likely to take place when we force a book (or several books!) on our kids when they are showing us they aren’t working for them.  And so often, this is happening just because certain books are on a list or included in a curriculum.

It’s taken me about 5 years to realize there is no ‘curriculum’ that will answer all my prayers and relieve all the ‘what ifs?’ or our children’s education.  There is no curriculum that can replace the freedom of following the Holy Spirit and our hearts as we journey together.

Because here’s the thing with ‘boxed’ curriculum.  Whether it is actually delivered to your front door in a physical box, or it is ‘boxed’ for us on a website, it is still, well, ‘boxed’.  (Meaning that someone has put it all together ahead of time and we are using that put-together curriculum with our children.)

Most curriculum is created by Moms just like you and I.

Moms who found something that really worked for their children and wanted to share their success in hopes of encouraging and helping other families.  (Which is great!)  But we can’t forget that what works for one family won’t always work for another.  What books appeal to one child might not appeal at all to another child, after all, as Charlotte said:

Children are born persons.

Yep, they are their own little person (or big person).  Us Moms know that better than anyone!

I’m convinced the way to find immeasurable success with Charlotte Mason’s philosophy is this –  embrace the very heart of the method, rather than getting stuck on any particular book list or curriculum.

(Which, again, is what the ladies at Ambleside Online preach!)

Now, as a very important side-note, I want to openly state that many (MANY!) families have enjoyed success using curriculum like what is found within Ambleside Online and various other book-based curriculums (Sonlight, Heart of Dakota, etc.).

And I have seen the benefits of these lists and suggested studies over and over.  Sometimes, the books do click with the children and there is a great connection, a spark – that living education is found through a certain ‘curriculum’.

But – I’ve also talked to so many Moms who get incredibly discouraged when a curriculum just isn’t working in their home.  They figure, because the suggested ‘Charlotte Mason’ style curriculum isn’t working, then it’s the philosophy that’s the problem.

The philosophy itself is not the problem.  Rather, it is the understanding of and the application of the philosophy that can be flawed.

So what does Charlotte Mason say about learning through Living Literature and Whole Books?

One of the key fundamentals of the Charlotte Mason philosophy is the use of Living Books in the home.  These are books that are written by a single author who shares his or her passion for a given topic with the reader.  This can be done through non-fiction or fiction (especially in the area of history).  These books inspire children to think, dream, learn, and explore.  They are captivating, well-written pieces of literature where the learning goes right from page to heart.

Some examples of beautiful living books we’ve read this year are: The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White, Backyard Birds by Robert Bateman, A Secret Garden by Frances Burnett, Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Wralls, Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, and The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, to name a few.

Here’s a quote from Charlotte:

Did you catch it?

We are to encourage and inspire our children to have relations of pleasure and intimacy with as many interests as possible (the feast of ideas through books) but it ought to be proper to him.  

Yes, proper to that particular child at that particular time.

This means learning alongside our children in the areas where God has gifted them and given them an interest.  It doesn’t mean there won’t be topics our children don’t enjoy as much as others – but there is certainly a benefit to focusing on that which he or she DOES enjoy!
The whole idea of Charlotte’s philosophy on living books is we use books that inspire our children to grow in character, knowledge, ideas, and passions.  So, what books we use is up to us as parents!  There are literally millions of fantastic living books available today.  We get many of our books from the library and have collected several shelves worth of beautiful classics and whole books for our family to read any time we choose.  Many of these books are found on Charlotte Mason booklists, because the booklists are in many ways fantastic!

But, here’s the catch – I’ve learned to use sites like Ambleside and sites that include Charlotte Mason booklists as a tool.  I don’t get discouraged or stuck on them if a book isn’t working for us.  

Any resource available is just that, an additional resource.  It is a tool in your homeschooling tool belt.  But it is not the belt itself.

When we get stuck on book lists and curriculums, especially for Charlotte Mason, we stifle much of the freedom of this beautiful philosophy.  We can lose sight of the very point of reading wonderful books – because we are stuck on reading the specific books listed on a given list for a given grade level, and often, a given time period.
So, this post is to encourage you – embrace the books and timelines that work for your family and your children.  Don’t get too lost in the sea of Charlotte Mason Curriculum for specific age categories and seasons.  Your child is unique and your family will travel a unique road.
Sure, if you want to – log onto Ambleside Online and similar sites and enjoy the wonderful lists of living books for suggested reading.  Try a few out and see if they work for your children.  Glean from these sites some great suggestions for books to read, but don’t be discouraged if some of the books don’t work for your children or don’t fit your needs or personal philosophies!
Leave room for the Spirit of God to move in your home and lead you to the right topics, the right books, and the right areas of study for your specific children.  The Lord has given them gifts and talents all their own!

Recognizing a Living Book –

Here is an interesting thought from Karen Andreola, which she writes in her book, A Charlotte Mason Companion.
“The One-Page Test:

Here is another way to recognize a living book.  First examine the book to see if it promotes noble thoughts rather than a jaded or misleading outlook on life.  If the book captures your interest it very well may capture that of your children’s.  Once you have determined its general suitability, simply give the book – whether fiction or non-fiction – the one-page test.  Start reading it aloud to your children and look for signs that it is opening the doors of their minds.  Stop at the end of the first or second page.  You will know you have found a living book if you hear them plead, ‘Read me more!'”



  • Melanie

    Well said! Too often we get stuck on a particular "boxed" curriculum and feel overwhelmed when it isn't working. We need to feel free to pick and choose what works and discard the rest without any guilt. Just because it works for one family doesn't mean it will work for another. We are our own worst enemies when it comes to finding the "perfect" program and then setting unrealistic expectations regardless if it seems to be working or not. Thanks for articulating what I know many of us homeschool moms struggle with!

  • ges galaxy

    Thank you for writing this. You so beautifully expressed what is happening in our homeschool right now. I absolutely adore Ambleside, but quickly realized that we will not be following its schedule as written. It is definitely my first "go to" resource list but not exclusively. I'm only using its suggested readings with one child and I, like you, can't get my head around how moms keep this up with multiple age levels. But I know they are out there doing it brilliantly. At the end of Term 1, I'm planning to sum up how we incorporated Ambleside into our personal school day in my blog.

    • Cassandra

      (hugs) I think that's because it is happening in our homeschool right now too… the multiple ages/years/history is so intense… I'm working on a post about family learning and how we've embraced family learning combined with individual studies in our home… FREEDOM. I love this way of doing things… makes so much more sense. πŸ™‚

  • Leah Wall

    Yes!! I have understood Charlotte Mason this way from my readings and find Ambleside Online a super helpful tool. I love seeing how they've broken the subject matter down and try to be sure that ours is balanced similarly subject-wise. But when I'm on the forums and FB pages (also very helpful!) the comments I see make me question my approach! I want to say something exactly like this post, but then I second-guess myself and don't want to offend anyone else who is just trying to do their best also!

    Anyway – thank you for explaining this graciously. I will just bookmark this post and share it often πŸ™‚

  • Brittney

    You could be my homeschool twin! I started out with AO when my oldest would have been in Year 1. Every day was a struggle. Many books weren't a good fit, and the ones he loved, he didn't want to stretch out over an entire year! So we scratched it. I just felt like "school" should not be a burden. I understand the concept of expecting our children to learn how to work through things they don't necessarily love, but we don't homeschool to force them through a curriculum. So many things you said in this post are things I've thought to myself, but never really articulated. Many Charlotte Mason homeschoolers will send you to one of two popular CM websites, OR tell you are just can't be a true CM homeschooler if you do this or don't do that or . . .whatever. But "Charlotte Mason" is a philosophy, not a curriculum, not a schedule. The way she did things was to manage a classroom or a school, not an intimate homeschool setting. So I do what works, I leave the rest, and we enjoy what works for our family during this season in our lives.

    Love this article!

    • Cassandra

      Aw, I always wanted a twin. πŸ˜‰ We definitely have that issue with the spreading over a whole year thing. My eldest read "A Drop of Water" in an hour… so… to use it for months of Science? Yeah. And we listening to James Herriot's Treasury on audio book over 1 afternoon…. so you are completely right, school should not be a burden, and I'm still figuring out how to achieve that 'YAYE LEARNING!" atmosphere I long for… Amen, Charlotte Mason IS a philosophy… and that leaves room for grace and individuality. Hooray for that.

  • Unknown

    Thank you for this post. I am in the same boat right now where I just am feeling a little overwhelmed. I buy a curriculum and then feel stressed and pressured when I don't get everything done that it says I should be getting done. The last 3 days I've started letting go of that and reminding myself that the most important thing about schooling is that my children enjoy (are eager even!) to learn.

    • Cassandra

      Yes, I hear you! I've stopped (yep, completely stopped) buying curriculum. I won't do it every again… The only 'curriculum' we've ever bought and used and has really, really worked for us over a long period of time is Five in a Row…. and that is in the early years… πŸ˜‰

  • stephanie

    I really wanted to get a boxed curriculum like sonlight or my fathers world. But it just would not work for my family or myself. Good post. I have gotten on ao and just stare at it. Its too much for me right now.

    • Cassandra

      It's too much for many Moms. I say, get lots of lovely books… and read, read, read. Apply what you're reading by talking, narrating, mapping, and researching more about the topics. Create notebooks if you want to… just enjoy learning… πŸ™‚

  • Angela

    Oh my goodness! Just came across this as I was searching for CM's Elementary Geography, and I wanted to say thank you so very much for putting into words my EXACT issues with AO. I absolutely love it as a resource for book ideas, links to CM's work and the work of others in her schools, and a jumping off place for my planning. But for a long time I tried to ignore my gut feeling that many of the choices, as they have them laid out, would not work for me or my babes. And once I realized I can be a real, true, CM homeschooler without following AO? Freedom! This post was a blessing to me.

    • Cassandra

      Thanks Angela. πŸ™‚ I'm so glad this was encouraging to you (that's why I write!). I'm so glad you have found freedom in the journey. It is a wonderful feeling. Blessings!

  • Unknown

    This is so funny! I feel the same way – just starting out on my homeschooling research (going to start homeschooling in September – boys are in 4th and 1st grade PS), and while I really like the "looks" of AO, I do stare at it and stare at it, feeling very overwhelmed with it all. My concerns are, what happens when you realize a book isn't a good fit? how do you know what to "substitute"? Should you always have alternatives on hand? And I don't want to go buy all these books and come to find out they don't work for us! I am also nervous about the different ages too – especially after reading this! LOL – but in a good "reality check" kind of way! Thanks for writing this; I have a lot to think about. Any pointers you have would be great!

    • Cassandra

      Hi, sorry for the delay!!! So, really, you can substitute many, many other books for ones that 'don't work'. The world of books is so vast, the options are truly endless. For us, the different ages thing does NOT work. Separating kids into 3 different time periods, each having their own huge pile of books to read through, esp. when I do a ton of reading aloud to each of them still – we tried it for like 3 weeks and I was totally burnt out and hating my days. (This is not every Mom's experience, mind you!). The SimplyCharlotteMason.com 'curriculum' was a much better fit for our family because they lump all children together in the same time period with options for different books at different levels, but it is only a variation of a few titles and those titles could be enjoyed by all. For subbing in books – I research living books from the time period we are studying and sub in what is available at the library. I purchased a whole ton of 'Ambleside' books and, honestly, only about 40% of what I ordered worked for us – so just be cautioned… there are LOADS of wonderful living books that are as good, and often better than what I've seen on the Ambleside site… you don't have to spend a fortune and you'll have much more peace if you don't. Have you read, Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie? You need to!!!! πŸ™‚

    • Happy-to-be-Mrs.D

      What a great outlook on the CM philosophy. I've a 5 yo and baby, and am starting to really gear up for the next year, now. So far, I've only read some of her writings and other books about it. And of course, looked into "curriculums" and begun hunting down books I'll be using. I've got so much going on right now, but the thought of figuring it all out on my own (i.e., a schedule and materials) is overwhelming. I'm committed to the CM philosophy, but having it all laid out for me, as a newbie, makes AO very attractive. You mentioned here that you use Simply Charlotte Mason. Is there a good resource that explains some of the differences between Ambleside and SCM?

    • Cassandra

      That's a really good question… I"m not sure if there is a resource like this… maybe I should create it? πŸ™‚ Even a blog post would help I think… there are some pretty significant differences. It is also not completely out of the picture to choose a curriculum that is living books/Charlotte Mason friendly. You don't need to create everything yourself, you know… it's ok to purchase a program that will give you everything you need for a very successful and very rich year.
      This year, with a new little one on our home, I purchased curriculum for our kids. My youngest is using Sonlight Core B+C and my two older kids are using Heart of Dakota. These are Charlotte Mason friendly, living books centred programs that are wonderful! The thought of putting everything together on my own was WAY too overwhelming… and that works just fine as well. πŸ™‚ xo

  • swalberg

    I came to this same conclusion after the first term of level 1 with AO! Something was telling me it was not what CM wold have wanted. Then I came across A Delectable Education podcast and it confirmed what I had been feeling, and it gave me courage and direction to leave the AO curriculum! I am glad to know that others feel the same way!

  • JT

    Well said and good for you for having the courage to write this. AO is a wonderful resource, but not a good fit for everyone and not the only way or the correct way to give a Charlotte Mason education, just A way. I remember when you asked on FB about the Burgess Bird Book and were told to stick it out, even though no one liked it (I told you to drop it πŸ˜‰ ). I am so happy that I came to the same conclusion before it affected our joy in learning.

    • Cassandra

      Thanks. πŸ™‚ And thanks for giving me good advice on the FB forum/group. Yeah – I don't get the whole "read it, even if you all hate it" mentality… it just doesn't work for our family. The only (only) exception we've ever had with 'sticking it out' has been sticking in through was Johnny Tremain. It's a novel that starts off a bit rocky/negative (not bad writing, the kids LOVED it but more the content…) but then after a chapter or two got REALLY god. πŸ™‚ But that wasn't a 'not liking it' situation, that was a 'my judgement' situation… Thanks for your comment/encouragement!!! xo

  • Freedom Acres Farm

    I too pick and choose from AO and SCM and others to form our own "thing". But… my biggest suggestion would be for anyone that possibly can, to read Charlotte's own writings. Reading what she wrote herself will help more than anything to apply the principles and her methods.

    I believe that many in the CM "world" are mislead or misinformed for various reasons. I don't mean to pick on the posters above but may I use them for an example? Charlotte's methods were not written for classroom or school use only. It is my understanding that they were heavily used by families in a correspondence type program in their homes. Much of her writings center on parenting above and beyond just schooling the children. Another example from above is the idea of reading slowly. I didn't understand this at first. Until I read straight from CM's own writings. She felt/believed that if a child "spent more time" with a book/author that they would have the time to ponder and build relationship with it. I have grabbed hold of this idea and it has blessed our homeschool in a huge way! If my son read "A Drop of Water" in one day, he'd not remember any of it in a week. He's enjoying it and looks forward to it each week, and is RETAINING it (which should be our goal, right?). The trick is finding the right speed for each child and each family.

    I'm sharing this to encourage you to forget the curriculum and seek out the original writings to glean her methods so you might apply them to your own children and schools. If her writings are too deep and or antiquated in speech then try the paraphrased version. It truly will revolutionize your homes. If I can do this anybody can!!!

  • Alexandra Marie Nelms

    Thank you for this! I love AO.. My oldest is 6 and this year we were going to do a formal Year 1, but I got nervous to use AO because we already have four children and Lord willing will add more. So I purchased Wayfarers, which I am excited about, but then continue to think well why can't I just make my own thing. I have read volume 1 and am currently reading volume 6 and just found a Delectable Education. I think I may just make my own thing in the future : )

    • Cassandra

      Haha… you sound a bit like me – try everything! πŸ˜‰ Have you considering Simply Charlotte Mason? Their plans are so nice, gentle, and family-centered… leave lots of room for add ons and changes too! πŸ™‚

  • Bluecanopy

    Ok I am SO glad I found your post. This is exactly how I have felt all of these years. I have used Ambleside to varying degrees since kinder with our 6 kids and my oldest is now 13. These past two years I felt stifled by the rigid lists and books my avid reader hate. Thank you for speaking this freedom and LIFE. I truly thank God for this. Now to ask Him for help as I rethink for the Fall!! πŸ™‚

    • Cassandra

      *smile* Wow, I give you a serious round of applause for lasting that long! I felt stifled with 3 kids after a month!!! I did not like the rigid lists of books my avid readers hated either. I think working with what they love and what you are led to read is the best way to go. Lots and wonderful living books that move the heart and mind is really the whole point, right!? πŸ™‚ We settled on Simply Charlotte MAson as a bit of a springboard. (So we use their history/bible curriculum, last year we used Early Modern History and this coming year we will use Modern History). This is a good compromise because it is sooooo much more gentle than Ambleside and leave flex room for adding your own books, etc. I like it. πŸ™‚ It's fun to have more room to see where you are led and what excites the kids are the year goes on. πŸ™‚ Blessings!

  • Unknown

    Thank you for writing this! I feel homeschooling should be a blessing not a burden and we should do what works best for our individual needs. I've made my way through traditional, to classical and Charlotte Mason to finally settling on a mix of classical and CM (which I've heard many great arguments that CM is just classical done right haha). I have used classical conversations the last 2 years, but this year I stopped using it (as a curriculum, but still used the community) in the middle and started implementing CM practices using a lot of AO resources and we were so happy. I thought I would use strictly AO this year, but there seems to be a school of thought there that each child should really do their own year, not together. We loved being together and doing so many read alouds together. The whole thought of separating that by grade levels has been wearing on my heart. Most searches I have been doing on the forums and Google resulted in people saying not to combine. It's not that I needed someone else to tell me this, but I needed an idea on how to do it. So thank you again for being the voice many of us needed to follow our hearts. I can't believe I forgot about SCM for combined history/bible. I love their handwriting courses and this year my son will be doing spelling wisdom and using language well too. So I'm going to check out the history as well.

    • Cassandra

      Hey Angela – Sorry for the delay in responding! I like that – CM is Classical done right… πŸ˜‰ I have also looked at Classical Conversations – but I knew it wouldn't work for our kids – I can just tell by reading reviews and watching videos with Mamas explaining their work. I'm glad you found the post encouraging. I also have major issues with all the kids doing completely different work. It is literally IMPOSSIBLE.. We do 50% of our work together… and I love it that way. We use SCM and have super enjoyed it. πŸ™‚ I'm so happy this post lifted you up… blessings.

  • Jaydee

    Thank you! I really needed this article. The CM way has appealed to me for many years, but I have been afraid to plunge into to it because the schedules I have seen online are so OVERWHELMING! Your article encourages me to seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit to implement the CM method. Blessings!

    • Cassandra

      You're welcome! Thank you for reading it! πŸ™‚ I completely agree with you… very overwhelming. If you are looking for a far gentler approach to CM – I highly recommend checking out Simply Charlotte MAson – their guides are family-centered and much easier to wrap your mind around. πŸ™‚ Peace!

  • ~a homemaker

    You would think after more than a decade of homeschooling, that I would have a rhythm of simplicity flowing. Err… yet, here I am after 6 weeks struggling and feeling tied to a program guide (I undoubtedly tied myself to it), and having to make a change this far into the school year.

    Thank you for this encouraging post. I had it bookmarked for inspiration and encouragement a while back and just let life get in the way from embracing it and stopping by to say, "thank you".

    I've also really enjoyed your input on using a Morning Basket. We've been using ours since the beginning of the school year and that part of our year has been working beautifully.

    Peace & rest to you on this "beauty full" autumn Sabbath!

    • Cassandra

      I totally get it! I've done this so many times. Thank you for commenting, I'm so grateful for your encouraging words! πŸ™‚ So happy this inspired you and so happy to hear Morning Time is going so well in your home! xo

  • Unknown

    OMG! TY! TY! TY!

    I stumbled on AO's website a few weeks ago as I have been researching Charlotte Mason for about 4-5 months now. Going to their site and their FB was wonderful; at first. I made the rookie mistake about a week into my FB venture with them of asking on the discussion page if anyone uses AO as a recommendation and also has a unschooling/road schooling/child's-interest-led, sorts of eclectic spin on CM/AO. Within a few hours I had dozens of moms being less than supportive, passive aggressive, questioning my thought process and judgement, and eventually had the comments shut off bc I mistakenly told an Admin that "I don't want to be legalistic" and I wanted to allow room to enjoy and see where my children's hearts and interests lead. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth and I have since found a few highly-followed and published HS Moms that have had similar experiences. AO seems to be elitist. And I REALLY love the book lists but I want my child to grow in God's love and be who He created them to be. I don't want to churn my child out after 18 or so yrs and say my child can do *XYZ* and all of the very best books in the world. I want their hearts to be on fire! I want them to be able to see what talents and gifts they've been bestowed with. To not be 30-something yrs old and finally understanding what "A Love for Learning" both is and feels like… something I, myself, have recently been discovering. We all love our children. If we didn't, I don't believe we would be homeschooling moms! I just don't think there is a one-set-path to follow a CM educational method. Heck, I may bend some of her rules or skip some… it all depends on what we find as a family, works for us.

    • Cassandra

      Thank you! πŸ™‚ I'm glad this spoke to you. I've found some of the same concerns with the idea of being 'strictly AO', which I think is a bit difficult for more families. I'm sorry you had an unsupportive experience. The truth is – any family has to choose what is best for them. I would never claim to be steadfast to any 'method' other than the philosophy to follow Jesus Christ as He leads us. That is our educational philosophy… πŸ˜‰ You are absolutely correct – there is no set path for Charlotte Mason and no set path for education. That idea is nonsense! Good on you for standing firm and knowing what you believe. Praying for your continued courage and heart to follow Jesus and follow the best for your kiddos! xo

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