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For those who use AO or SCM, how did you choose?


knit247
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Good morning! For those moms who use AO or SCM (either alone or in combo with WTM), how did you choose which one to use? I have read some of the posts at SCM about the differences between the two and searched the archives here as well, but would love to hear more.

 

I have thought for some time that a more CM approach would be of great benefit to my daughters, especially the oldest. I have always been drawn to it, but just never able or willing to take enough time to really learn all about it and plan our weeks in a more CM-friendly way. Part of the reason is because my oldest DD has ADD (not medicated at this point) and there is no way I can see that she could come close to finishing a lesson in 20 min. or so.

 

At any rate, I am at a place where I now have the time and energy to really focus on changing our homeschool for the better. I want to move towards CM while still keeping with the WTM language arts - DD loves R&S for grammar and I do not want to change that!

 

Both AO and SCM appeal to me. I think AO has so much more in the way of help with their Yahoo! forums and such, but I am not sure how "do-able" it would be to have a DD in Y2 or Y3 and another in Y0. They would always be on different things. But I have also read on AO why they advise not to combine children for the sake of combining. SCM has children combined in history, for instance, which appeals to me more. Each has it's own merits!

 

So, what did you choose for your family, and why? I am very interested to hear!

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Guest Cindie2dds

Wow, great question. I have struggled with this one myself! Some of the conclusions I've come to (toss in the compost pile if you are so inclined):

 

AO ~ Very open and go. There is a schedule laid out for you for grades 1-12 in 36 week format with exam questions included. The hard part for me is I don't always agree with every, single book selection they have. If you look over the 12 years of booklists, there are recurring ones in both lists (as well as SL, HOD and BF). You are going to use books from both lists, even if you still with their schedule completely. They don't recommend combining students, yes; I'm not sure if we are going to yet or not.

 

SCM ~ Again everything is laid out for you, just in a different format. It is a little more user friendly, IMVHO. If you see a book you like, you can reserve it at your local library or buy it at Amazon directly from their site. I like their booklists a little better for my kids, just a personality thing. I like the chronological history and how it's broken down into 6 more detailed years; again, just MVHO.

 

The nice thing is you can get ideas from both sites and choose the best from both and toss what you don't like. If you haven't already done it, AmbleRamble discusses other booklists and substitutions for AO users.

 

What we are going to do: mostly SCM with AO and my own stuff thrown in. I've tried to do a "boxed curriculum" and I substitute way too much for it to work, so sticking with just AO or SCM would not be very practical for us.

 

HTH!

Edited by Cindie2dds
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This is a hard one. Both appeal to me as well. I used AO, with a lot of tweaking, last year for my two oldest. I combined them in one year even though it isn't advisable. This year I had everything planned out and ready to go for both to use separate years (3 and 4), but we only did about two weeks and then I chickened out. I was doing Beautiful Feet's Early American History Guide with my 1st grader, as he wasn't ready for AO year 1 and I wanted him to have some American History before world history anyway. The AO year 4 my oldest was doing is also early American history, so I felt like my ds, doing AO year 3, was kind of stuck out there on his own in the renaissance period. That really bothered me, so I ended up dropping the AO schedules and doing early American history together using a combination of BF, SCM, Truthquest and some of the books from AO.

 

It's been going ok. I love the lighter books and time spent together with the read alouds, but I don't like that our schedule is dependent upon me to keep everything moving. With AO, the older dc had their weekly reading schedules and followed them on their own, doing the written narrations on their own or coming to me for oral narrations. With all of us staying together for history, it's harder to have the older dc reading a lot on their own without having them get ahead or behind on topics, kwim? For instance, I just finished reading D'Aulaires Columbus to my 1st grader, and my 5th grader just finished Columbus by Josephine Pollard, but my oldest isn't even halfway through the book she's reading on Columbus. Now I did allow for a longer period for her to read it, because it's a bigger book, but my boys and I are ready to move on to the Native Americans and Roanoke. I had a good book on Sir Walter Raleigh I wanted my dd to read, but by the time she finishes with the Columbus book, we'll have moved past Roanoke, Jamestown and into the Pilgrims. See what I mean? There's not really any way to change that unless I do ALL the reading. Maybe I'm just being too Type A about the whole thing.

 

Now, my sister, who's doing AO this year with her three dc (because I told her all about it and got her interested in it, LOL) has been doing it for about 5 weeks now. She says it's going really well. Her dc are in AO years 1, 2 and 5. It doesn't bother her in the least that her dc are studying different time periods. The thing she worried about the most was reading little bits of tons of books over long periods of time. My sister devours books, but always one book at a time. She thought she would hate reading the AO way, however, she's had to read some of her dc's books to them and she is loving the reading plan. She says she's even started reading her own books that way and can really see how she's getting more from the books that way.

 

Now, I'm thinking maybe it was a mistake to change, especially since my 11 yo dd is having a terrible time concentrating lately because of hormonal/prepuberty issues. Perhaps, reading smaller bits from several different books is just what she needs. After talking to her cousins, she wants to switch back to AO, but my 5th grade ds prefers what we've been doing together. Now I don't know what to do.

 

Sorry for the book! I just wanted to let you know of our experience trying CM both ways. As for language arts, we do copywork, written and oral narrations and dictation, but we also have used Easy Grammar.

 

HTH!

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Guest Cindie2dds

Chloe,

 

Glad you chimed in. I was wondering how BF American History was going! You got me looking at it, too! LOL!! I have some of the books already, so we might try that with Module 5 at SCM, not sure.

 

Thanks!

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Hi, Cindie! I really like BF's Early American Primary Guide for my 1st grader. I have a love/hate relationship with the intermediate guide. The books are wonderful, but some seem too young for my 5th and 6th grader, so I tried using some books from their Early American/World History Guide for Jr/Sr High. Some of those are over their heads or much too long/in depth for what I'd like. That's why I've pulled some books in from SCM and TQ. I've been doing the suggested notebooking from the primary guide with my 1st grader, but my older two just do a written narration once a week. Sometimes we'll talk about the discussion questions together and sometimes not. I really do like BF. It just seems like my two oldest aren't a perfect fit for any of the American history guides right now.

 

I think BF with SCM is a good combination! Let me know how it works out for you.

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I use AO Year 4 with an exceptionally gifted 4th grade and a moderately gifted 5th grader. It is very challenging. While I think Ambleside is great for gifted children or some other children who are put into lower years, it is probably not a good fit for most typical children.

 

I think SCM works better for those with normal children, more support for the parent (the Ambleside yahoo group format does nothing for me) and is more friendly toward those with multiple ages. I prefer SCM art history and music appreciation cycles more so than Ambleside's.

 

I picked Ambleside over SCM because it just fit where we were with our "afterschooling" when we pulled out kids out of school.

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I am currently doing a combined Year 1 and Year 2 with both of mine, ds12 and dd9. Basically, we are doing 1/2 year for each year. A few things we are leaving out as I'm trying to make it more secular for my family, other things we've already done. We'll do Year 3 and Year 4 combined after that, though it may take 1 1/2 years instead of just one.

 

I've been drawn to Ambleside for years but I just couldn't wrap my head around it until after I'd homeschooled for a while. I've always come back to doing things the CM way and finally decided this would be the best way for our family.

 

I've looked closely at SCM also and like them as well, but since my children are older, I felt AO would be a better fit. I do add in readers from the SCM list though when we are looking for more. I tweak everything, I mean literally every single curriculum I've ever used, so this is no different. :) I don't think you can go wrong with either one and feel free to use elements of both as needed.

 

Good luck,

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TY all so much for your thoughts. Both of my DDs were very early readers (3yo and 2 yo) and are working 1-2 yrs ahead of their grade. I think they could handle most anything but still I am not sure which to use

 

I am continually drawn to AO and am not exactly sure why. I often wonder if it's where I am being led or if I just feel more comfortable with AO because that was the 1st exposure that I had to CM's methods? As I said before, the draw to SCM is putting both girls in history together. I also love Biblioplan with SOTW and that is on a 4-yr rotation. After that I planned to move over to TQ (I was going to do TQ all the way from AHYS but nixed that when we moved to Germany last summer).

 

I don't know...I feel like I live in a state of confusion! Thanks again for your posts!

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I don't know...I feel like I live in a state of confusion!

 

LOL! Me too! One day I think it just makes sense to have each of my dc working on their own at their own levels, the next I feel like a major benefit of homeschooling is to be able to learn together as a family.

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Hello, I am new to homeschooling as well and am very drawn to CM. I also don't always agree with the AO book selections, just a personal style thing. I didn't realize SCM had reading schedules and booklists, can you let me know where they are? I am a member of their site, but I've only used it for their planner and haven't found any curriculum on it. Thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...

We used AO year 2 for the first half of last year. I chose that year because of the age of my dd and the topics. The spines (Our Island Story and This Country of Ours) were waaayyyyy boring to my gifted 3rd grader. I dropped both of them and used "Child's History of the World." I continued to use the other books and threw in Sonlight's read aloud schedule. We decided not to use AO again because it moves so slowly through history. I wouldn't worry about combining your children with AO. It's very manageable to use two different years. You'll just have to decide which books your kids will read to themselves and which ones you'll use as read alouds. Also, there might be some books that you won't want to use. There are some really good suggestions on the Yahoo group on how to work that out.

 

We also switched to Beautiful Feet :D. We are using the Intermediate American History guide for my 4th grader. I can see where the reading might be easy for a 5th and 6th grader, but the concepts and the writing projects are challenging. We LOVE the Principal approach. The discussions on character have given us so many teachable moments outside school. I'm already looking at using their new Westward Expansion guide and their Geography study for next year combining my girls.

 

HTH!

Dorinda

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I always like to tag threads that I think I will want to come back and read someday! This one I tagged SCM, and Simply Charlotte Mason. I tried to tag it with Ambleside Online as well but it will only let each person add 2 tags. Will someone else tag this thread with Ambleside Online? Pretty please! ;) It won't allow AO to be used as a tag b/c tags need to be a minimum of 3 letters long.

 

Hello, my name is Jennefer and I love tags on all my favorite threads!:D

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I am continually drawn to AO and am not exactly sure why.

 

 

I know because it is a great program.

 

I combine The Well-Trained Mind with Ambleside Online and Teaching the Trivium.

 

I was first drawn to TWTM because of the academic rigor that it offered. However, when my son was in 2nd grade, I had a horrible experience with an academic co-op whose focus was classical using TWTM. My children love it, but I hated it. They had me in tears every week. I ended up not returning to the program. I prayed hard and long.

 

I discovered that there was more of a focus on academics and not enough of a focus on character. What drew me to the Charlotte Mason was the character development that was not in TWTM. Teaching the Trivium also focuses on character development. CM emphasized the child learning good habits in the early years. I realize that when I went to college a waffled because I did not have good habits. Learning to get up on time, make your bed, brush your teach, obey your parents: these seemed like more noble assets for a child to have than just having knowledge and information.

 

I combine AO and TWTM because I like the academic rigor, but I do it after the habit training is done.

 

Blessings in your homeschooling journey!

 

Sincerely,

Karen

http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/testimony

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We use AO. I researched both AO and SCM (and Mater Amabilis) and AO's layout was the one that didn't stress me out. I love AO's simplicity, thoroughness, and just about all its content. I secular-ized it as well, and supplement with some basic language arts and geography workbooks. I find the Yahoo group invaluable. It has given me a lot of ideas, helped me overcome concerns, and has given me such a great appreciation for AO. We are in our second year with it and ds (8) and I both still really love it.

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Angela, may I ask why you don't use AO for your 13yo as well? I love AO, but I feel what makes it difficult is trying to use it with more than one dc. Most of the people I've heard using it who find it working so well are only using it with one or two dc.

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I always like to tag threads that I think I will want to come back and read someday! This one I tagged SCM, and Simply Charlotte Mason. I tried to tag it with Ambleside Online as well but it will only let each person add 2 tags. Will someone else tag this thread with Ambleside Online? Pretty please! ;) It won't allow AO to be used as a tag b/c tags need to be a minimum of 3 letters long.

 

Hello, my name is Jennefer and I love tags on all my favorite threads!:D

 

Thanks to whomever tagged it! :)

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Angela, may I ask why you don't use AO for your 13yo as well? I love AO, but I feel what makes it difficult is trying to use it with more than one dc. Most of the people I've heard using it who find it working so well are only using it with one or two dc.

 

I started Year 6 with her last year. Having not done anything like this since she's been homeschooled, her eyes were just glazing over. So we tried Year 4 instead. She just couldn't take to it. She's more of an unschooler (and has been since we started) and learns best by coming up with her own plan and more self-directed activities. Looking back, it definitely would have worked for her if we had started with it from the beginning, like I did with ds.

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Thanks, Angela. I think maybe that was the problem with my oldest two. They've never read a lot of twaddle, but I think the AO books were just too much for them and their eyes would glaze over. They could read the stuff fine, but couldn't get a good understanding of what they were reading. I'm considering using AO year 1 with my younger ds next year when he's a second grader. It may work better for him starting from the beginning, however, he's also the one with the least interest in reading.

 

I think it's great how self-directed your 13yo is. I'd love to get my oldest two to that point.

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I am just getting ready to switch to Ambleside (from my own curriculum). I decided on Ambleside because I already owned some of the books and have been finding that is the direction we were heading anyway. I don't mean that I wanted to use the books we had because it was convenient. I mean that since my choices in books were already similiar, it just made sense.

 

I have decided to separate my dc (for the most part) in history and science, because they were in such different places in terms of skill, etc. even though they are only 2 + years apart. SCM combines them, I believe.

 

In the end, I think AO just felt meatier and more my taste than SCM. Also, there is so much support and information on the Yahoo Groups for AO.

 

I am really excited. I will be doing Year one and my own version (still writing my own curriculum, I guess:D) of Year 0. However, I find just having the Year 0 framework and schedules already done, no matter how much I change it, is very helpful.

 

Woolybear

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