My homeschooling is much different now that I am working with Ambleside Schools. The three biggest differences are because of the training, the curriculum and the application. All of these have had a positive impact to our homeschooling and family in general.
The first improvement in our homeschooling occurred because of the training that I attended at Ambleside. The 3-day Internship allowed me to actually observe the realities of teaching using Charlotte Mason's method as well as to explore deeper the fundamental underpinnings of her philosophy. The Summer Institute was a 6-day immersion in the Ambleside method. I was able to sit as an Ambleside student for the first 4 days and then I along with my fellow classmates were given an opportunity to teach two subjects using what we have learned. One of the subjects was disciplinary, I chose 2nd Grade Arithmetic and the other was inspirational, I chose 4th Grade Science. Also, for my continued growth I have had the opportunity to have on-going weekly consultations with Maryellen St. Cyr, the founder of Ambleside Schools. We have been consulting for a year and a half now and I have grown much as a teacher, mother and a person because of it.
Secondly, my homeschooling is improved now because I use the Ambleside curriculum. Since I teach 3 different grades (K, 3rd & 4th) I group some subjects together. For example we use 3rd Grade Science, Literature and History but are using Kindergarten Literature for Read Aloud. We also study Froebel together with all grades. In arithmetic, spelling and grammar we are on different levels but I have learned how to master the teaching of 3 grade levels during the same time slot. It is quite fun and beneficial to all the children to see what their siblings are learning. In using the Ambleside curriculum I don't have to spend so much time piecing together my own course of study and I know that my children are receiving a comprehensive curriculum rich in living ideas and true to the philosophy. Plus, I delight in the material as well. It is so interesting and enjoyable to teach. I am blessed as a homeschooling mother to be able to teach through all the grades, thus eventually using the entire curriculum over the course of our home education.
Third, I feel that finally I am really applying Miss Mason's philosophy. Before Ambleside, I had read much of Charlotte Mason's original writings, other related Charlotte Mason books; I was in a Charlotte Mason Homeschool Support group and even Co-led a Charlotte Mason group. But, even with all of this so-called "experience", I had not fully grasped the foundational ideas and practices of Charlotte Mason. I struggled with how to practically apply her philosophy. It wasn't until I observed real teachers teaching real children using this philosophy that my mind began to open to an understanding of how this was done. It made such a difference to me to actually see this philosophy in action! I now have a much better understanding of the fundamental ideas behind Miss Mason's philosophy and how to apply them to real life and real homeschooling in the 21st century.
I own much gratitude to Bill and Maryellen St. Cyr, the Ambleside teachers and administrators and all the many people who are involved in the work of promoting a living education to all children across the world through Ambleside Schools International.