High School

Welcome to House of Education, AmblesideOnline's curriculum for grades 7-12.

This page has been created to help families transition from the lower years of Elementary school into the upper years of Junior High and High School. We hope you will find the information on this page helpful and useful as you plan out your student's educational journey.

For general support and help with the HEO Book Lists and Schedules, please join the AO Forum!

General Questions

Q. Why does HEO Y7 "look" so different from the lower years of AmblesideOnline?

The upper level book lists are more "meaty" than their lower year counterparts. This was done on purpose--and is in keeping with Charlotte Mason's original PNEU Programmes. Students are expected to be "ready" to handle the demands of a more advanced curriculum. Therefore, students read additional subjects such as Logic, Worldviews, and Current Events. They also begin formal Grammar and Writing instruction and will spend more time learning about a specific period in history. In the lower years, students read from a comprehensive history spine and used supplemental historical fiction to give them a broad overview of history. Beginning in Y7, students read primary source documents, historical biography and study literature that is specific to the period of study. HEO students are given an opportunity to spend an entire year reading about one period in time, focusing on one or two key persons, and studying the major political, social, and economic developments of the era.

Q. My child is entering 7th grade. Should I start her in Y7?

It depends. If your child has come up through AO Y1-6, then she should be ready for Y7. If this is her first year, you might consider using our Pre-Year 7 Book list and spending the summer or even an entire year reading some of the best books from the lower years.

Q. I am starting AO with a high schooler. Where should I begin? Is this even possible?

Again, this will depend on your student, his/her previous academic experience, and whether or not he/she is ready to read at the level of HEO. It is not uncommon for high schoolers (9-12th graders) to read Y7 or Y8. Do not feel that you must place your student at grade level. Instead, look over the AO/HEO book lists and then find a year that matches your student's skill level and abilities. It is important that you find a year that will challenge them, but not completely overwhelm them. Also keep in mind that high schoolers will be taking Math and Science courses in addition to their AO/HEO studies. Some advanced math and science courses require significant time to complete so plan accordingly and choose a year that will complement your student's interests.

Q. I have read that AO is so advanced that students do not need to complete all 12 years before they graduate? Is this true?

HEO is advanced curriculum and it is true that students who complete any or all of HEO will receive an excellent education. How much is enough? That is a tough question to answer and depends on many factors. Parents need to carefully consider their own students needs and abilities and plan accordingly.

Q. My student will not complete all of AO before 12th grade. Is Y9 or 10 enough for graduation?

AO was designed to be a full 1st-12th grade curriculum, and as such, students who begin AO in Y1 will normally matriculate after completion of Y12. Not all students begin AO in the beginning; many join during the lower years or Middle school years. You will need to decide "how much" of HEO needs to be completed based on the requirements of your state, your umbrella school or your own graduation requirements.

Q. Are HEO Y7-12 considered "Honors" level? They sure seem advanced to me, especially compared to other home school curriculum.

AO/HEO courses are advanced and that is probably the best way to describe them. It is not uncommon for high school students to begin HEO in Y7 and not in Y9. The course work involved and the amount of reading definitely merit the distinction of "honors" level. Some states, however, do not recognize any difference between a home school honors course and a general course. Therefore, parents should check with their state Department of Education, local school board, home school support group, curriculum advisor or umbrella group to find out if HEO courses qualify for "honors" distinction.

We encourage parents to read the article Undoing the Dis-Education of Millennials by Adam J. MacLeod. "I teach in a law school. For several years now my students have been mostly Millennials. Contrary to stereotype, I have found that the vast majority of them want to learn. But true to stereotype, I increasingly find that most of them cannot think, don't know very much, and are enslaved to their appetites and feelings. Their minds are held hostage in a prison fashioned by elite culture and their undergraduate professors." He gives his students 3 rules they must follow in his classes; it may be an eye-opener for parents who are about to send students to college.

Testimonials from Parents of AO/HEO Graduates

1. I don't exactly have a homeschooled grad yet, as my eldest is entering 12th grade this Fall, but he's close and we have always done mainly CM education. I've found that since he's so auditory and dislikes writing so very much, CM's method of narration has been a blessing. He is now quite articulate and people he works for often say they appreciate that he is able to talk to adults in a sensible way about real life things.

We have also found that having a shorter school day with much real life activity in the afternoons, including handiwork has been worthwhile. In my heart of hearts it never made sense to me to keep children of any age cooped up all day doing book work when much of adult life is hands on. So our son spent much of his growing up time helping with farm work, "puttering" and "tinkering" in the shop, and also dreaming over machinery catalogues. CM education allowed enough time for this sort of thing and usually kept me from feeling guilty that he wasn't doing enough "school work". Actually, it helped me realize that this sort of thing IS school work.

Just some observations from someone who's almost there.
Sept. 2009

2. I haven't used AO/HEO the whole time with any of my children, mostly because it wasn't around for our oldest, but have used CM most of their lives. I've always put together my own CM style curriculum, but we have taken advantage of the AO/HEO booklists:)

We started using CM's methods when my oldest (a girl, 25) was in the first grade around, 1990. My two boys (17 & 20) have always known a CM education.

My daughter graduated in 2002. We didn't always do everything as closely to CM's philosophies as I would have liked, mostly because there was no one else I knew using them to bounce ideas off of. She did very well once in college. She told me college was easy compared to all the work she was used to doing in high school. LOL She also said that other kids in her college classes had very limited vocabularies. She has since graduated with an Associate's in Visual Communications, is married and expecting her first child. (our first grandchild :)

My second, oldest son, is finishing up his second year of college. He is getting a CAD certificate (Computer Aided Drafting) and will pursue an Engineering degree.

Neither one of my children has had any trouble adjusting to college. They both made good grades in their classes. My son has been on the President's list and invited to join the Honor Society.

I've heard many times over our years of homeschooling, that CM is great for young children or children who love to read or girls (because boys either don't like to read or are more science math oriented. Remember son #1 above?)

I have one other son left who will graduate this year. I can't count our adopted daughter in the CM educated group because she's only been with us a year and she's just learning English, though she does love to be read to. :)

June 2009

3. When my son was in 9th grade, only year 7 of AmblesideOnline was complete, so we used some of AO and our own picks - which many later ended up on the list - like Truthquest, Apologia biology, etc.

He was easily accepted by the college that he chose - Greenville College in Greenville, IL. Based on his grades, ACT score and recommendations from others, he was able to compete for scholarships and received a Dean's scholarship.

He has 3 years completed at the school, but this year has decided to finish his classes at a local four-year, state university in order to receive a major in computer science. His major was digital media and Greenville quit offering the computer science several years ago, so he was not able to major in it. He will still be able to transfer his classes over and graduate from Greenville.

blessings, Lynn D.
June 2008

Lynn's update - Sept 2009

My son came home and started attending a local university last Fall. Since he switched his major, he had about two years of courses in computer science that he needed. He's just begun his second year, but has also been working about 30 hours a week and taking just three or four classes at a time, so he should graduate in Spring of 2011.

4. My oldest just finished her freshman year at Southern Virginia University. The process was easy for us as our local high school issued her diploma but the college did also accept all her homeschool credits. A lot of colleges were asking for portfolios, reading lists and transcripts, as well as what curriculum you used. The college as well as the high school were impressed that my daughter had read Uncle Remus at an early age (we were using Robinson and AO). Most colleges are having the kids take a math and english placement exam as schools differ across the country. My daughter tested out of the regular freshman english class and the President of the college gave her a Presidential Scholarship for next year. They have also planned a homeschool scholarship for new kids coming in. If your child receives a good score on the ACT or SAT you should have no worries. My daughter froze and only got a 16.

Most colleges have someone who works directly with homeschooled families. You need to find out who that is and what they want. Each college is asking for different things.

Just a note - if you finish AO Year 10 and you give the information to the college, they are usually very impressed with the AO curriculum.

with one down and 4 to go.
June 2008

Mary's update - Sep 2009

My daughter just started her junior year at SVU. She is doing great and a lot of the works they have done she had already read while homeschooling. She even got a school scholarship. It was a little difficult for her with block classes but only because we modified AO so she read everyday and we added a lot.

Also we are not homeschooling this year. I had to go look for a job in another state and the kids stayed here so we put them in PS. They have done very well. My little guy in 3rd grade is giving his teacher a run for her money. He asks lots of questions about the meaning of what they read and even told the teacher he didn't like "twaddle" when she asked if he liked the book she read. She had no idea what twaddle was.

Anyhow I am very glad we used AO and wish we could continue completely but with everything going on we are just using it as enrichment in the evenings. I think that my kids, even though two are special needs, miss it too. I know my 8yr old does because he asked if he could bring good books for the teacher to read.


5. My daughter used CM methods and AO for her last 2 years in homeschool before going on to college. She is now in her 3rd year studying graphic art and design with a focus in web design and technology. She has made the dean's list with honors every semester.

March 2007

Faithe's update - Sept 2009

My oldest daughter graduated from college in 2008 with her BA in Graphic Design. She graduated with a 3.9 GPA, 7th in her class of almost 800 students, Summa Cum Laude. She got married the next month LOL. She began her career while still in college, in her senior year, when she was hired by a scout who noticed her impressive portfolio online. She now helps in the design of catalogues, brochures and ad campaigns for a popular home decorating company. She has also been free-lancing and her own design company has begun to really take off. You can see a sampling of her professional her work at www.silverhanddesign.com.

My next 2 children, who also used parts of AO through their High School careers, of course tweaked to their own learning strengths and weaknesses, are now graduated. Daughter number 2 is graduating from the Community college this semester . . . and she is also carrying a 3.9 GPA, has earned a place on the president's list all 4 semesters and is going on to become a Physical Therapist. My son began CC this fall to begin his study in Electrical Engineering and Alternative Energy and is making the transition to college work rather easily. I expect he will do as well as his sister's have.

I love AO and HEO. I do not use them as written because I am a perpetual tweaker, and a compulsive book lover. I always find some book I need to fit in or I feel is a better fit to my child. However, my starting point is ALWAYS AmblesideOnline, and I am always thrilled when I check in to see changes and the AO advisory has replaced a book with one I had replaced in my own schoolroom.

I think you ladies are awesome and I would be happy to do whatever I can to help others implement a CM education into their own homeschools.


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

6. I sort of consider my daughter the 'guinea pig' for modern day CM education - in that this is the only way she has been educated her entire life. That's not to say I've always done it perfectly by any means - and that every element of a CM education has always been present. I've learned along the way, too :-)

But she is now 17 and in her junior year (turned 17 in January). She will graduate in '04 and go on to college (right now she wants to attend Philadelphia Biblical University). She should take her SAT's soon, I believe this spring as a matter of fact. I promise to keep you all posted on her progress moving toward college :-)

But we took her high school plans and divided them up into a workable transcript-layout (IOW, in some things like French or Bible, we spread things out but we put them all together for credits-sake) and it's up on my website - you can go to http://www.libertyandlily.net and click on "High School" - and you'll see all four years there. I think you'll see that it's a meaningful and valid high school plan.

Love in Him,
April 2003

Donna-Jean's update - Sept 2004

Our oldest graduated in June, and is now a freshman at The King's College, located in the Empire State Building in New York City. It's a Christian liberal arts college that focuses especially on developing leaders. Bethany is living in the city in their dorm apartments, and loving it. Her freshman week of 'orientation' coincided with the Republican National Convention, and she had some exciting times, including being able to attend the last night when the President spoke!

Her first couple of weeks of college have been interesting - from the perspective of a homeschool mom who tried her best to teach all those years from a Charlotte Mason focus :-) It's been reassuring to hear that some of the material in her college courses is familiar to her :-)

I hope to get back to our website soon, it needs much updating - and I will write up how we adjusted some of the things there and how we put it all on a transcript - just to share with others who are interested in seeing how one family put a CM-styled high school education into a form colleges can look at. (Remember, I wrote that before AO had the HEO years up, although I was inspired by the plan that AO presented and followed some of that as best I could.)

Love in Him,
Donna-Jean :-)

Donna-Jean's update, July 2018

When our homeschooled children entered high school years, my husband and I did not know any family that used Charlotte Mason principles for the upper grades. Despite that, we knew that what had worked for us in the past could be relied on for the future. Now that we have graduated three of our four children, we can say with confidence that the atmosphere, discipline, and life that marked our homeschool has equipped each one of our children for what God has for them in adulthood.

Following her marriage, our oldest daughter and her husband pursued foster care as well as a career in church work and camp ministry. While she continues her college studies in Christian counseling, she now homeschools her children, using AmblesideOnline. It is a delight to see this carry on into the next generation. Our older son met the challenge of his learning differences by acquiring construction skills and a strong work ethic, and he now serves full-time in a ministry, building and repairing churches, Christian schools, and outreach centers. Our younger daughter graduated college summa cum laude, based her Honors College project on Charlotte Mason practices in the music classroom, and is now beginning her married life as a public school music teacher.

Donna-Jean Breckenridge
July 2018

7. I have one graduating college and one in the middle of college and they were homeschooled all the way to college. I kept records of the work they did and books they read. Then I filled them into the typical subject areas. AO makes that job easy. Although I wasn't doing AO for the first two, I was doing CM and they were accepted to every college they applied to. (Christian colleges and a community college that feeds into U of Chicago and Northwestern) By the time your sons are in college, colleges will probably be recruiting homeschooled students if they aren't already.

A good computer program for record keeping can be extremely helpful. I haven't needed to use mine much except for our high school students. It depends on your state as to the usefulness of them for younger grades. We are in IL and we don't have to do any reporting.

When the time comes, if you can look up a local high school catalog online or get one from the school, it helps in looking at the requirements for college bound children. (An aside, if they say the public school students are doing physics in jr high school, it is probably comparable to Apologia's Physical Science course. Sometimes, they kind of throw you with their descriptions and make it sound like they are more advanced. Not always true.)

Some colleges have their requirements for entrants on their websites also. Those requirements are the most important.

Remember to give your boys opportunities to MAKE real things. Useful things. Repair things. Work on landscaping. Real jobs as they get older. So important. They'll learn sooo much.

So, the shortened version, AO will be fine through high school. They will be well prepared. : )

March 2009

Mary's update - Sept 2009

Our daughter got her BA in English Literature and graduated Magna Cum Laude from Trinity University this past spring. She went through school with academic and athletic scholarships. She had also been accepted at Wheaton and Moody.

Our son is still in school and is a Communications major with a media emphasis and he is working 19 hours a week. He had been accepted at Gordon and Biola.

Another daughter is a senior in high school this year and I feel confident that HEO is good preparation for college. Her father and I are enjoying some of her books along with her.

We also have more children following in the CM footsteps with AO and HEO. They're learning a lot. The other day our six year old caught a butterfly and wanted to know if it was a male or a female. Her sister remembered reading about the butterfly last year in The Storybook of Science so she found the book and looked up the information for her sister. So sweet!


8. My son is graduating this week from our homeschool. He used AO for his last three years of CM style education. He applied to 11 colleges, got into 10 of the 11 (he needed to take an SAT !! to be accepted there and chose not to take it). He was offered placement in the honors colleges and academic scholarships at EVERY school. They ranged from prestigious private schools to large research institutions. He applied to a range of schools, large and small, public and private. We thought it would be harder to get in with his homeschool life than it was. We offered up a list of courses he had studied and a note that we taught to mastery and so did not give grades but if we did they would be A's.

He scored well on his SAT's and wrote great essays after using the IEW college essay writing video. Admissions counselors were impressed by the breadth of his reading and study, his languages skills including Latin, and how comfortable he was in interview settings and his ability to self-evaluate and express his goals. Before I took him on his tour of colleges that had accepted him, his dad and I made a point that the goal was to find a school that was a good match for him. Every school we visited was enthusiastic about having him there. They were looking for thinkers and leaders and he is both. His choice was about atmosphere, class style and size, weather, and overall environment. He has chosen to attend Eckerd College in Florida where he will play varsity tennis and study Marine Biology. Three of the schools he turned down have offered to hold him a place until 2009 if he changes his mind!

When we started with AO I wasn't sure how it would translate to higher education, but decided it was so obviously right for my children, rigorous and thoughtful and working with the assumption that they want to learn and contribute both that we accepted the risk that our kids might also have a non-traditional higher education process as well. It turns out we had nothing to worry about. His non-traditional education made him a more attractive candidate to the schools to which he applied. Having graduated 2 from homeschooling, I have no l fear for my remaining three.

June 2008

Cindee's update - Sept 2009

My son got called up to the soccer team and played as the #2 goalie for his NCAA division 2 school, as well as on the tennis team fall term. Getting authorization from the NCAA was harder than getting into college as they required a list of all the books he had read in high school including title, author, publisher and publication date! Now I had the booklists but I didn't keep records on all of the publication dates, so it took a while to prepare that list. In the end, the rules are clear so it is not too difficult to qualify.

At college he really enjoyed his Roman History class and decided to become a classics minor. He also got an A in his first writing class. He took gender and media (watching movies sounded good to him and the class was mostly girls--double bonus), Western Heritage (the required freshman core class),a speech class and a class he really loved on the biology of the Everglades and a few more that have slipped my mind. During the winter term (January) he took a leadership seminar. He has applied to be a student leader at the same seminar for next January. He decided that he is more a naturalist than a scientist, having a lovely time tracking critters through the Everglades and photographing them with his class. He will be looking for more eco-biology and nature observation classes rather than the research lab classes. I thought this was a nice refinement to his plan and a good clarification for him to make about his own interests.

This summer he was invited, as one of six students handpicked by the professor, to spend two weeks in Southern France searching for proof of exactly where Hannibal crossed the alps and visiting ruins on the coast. He came back from that trip and changed his major to a double major in Sports Communication and classics. He spent the rest of the summer as a volunteer Tennis coach and soccer goalie coach in our hometown. He got all A's and B's in the honors program his first year even with missing 1/3 to 1/2 of the classes due to the soccer team travel schedule. He decided he did not like missing his education for sports and has adjusted his plans accordingly. (I didn't think the day would ever come that he would reverse his priorities like that!) All but one of his B's was in his first term. He still has his academic scholarship and we have no complaints about his school or how he did his first year.

He has been back at school for 2 weeks now and is loving his life. He is back with his friends, going to sporting events, playing club soccer and tennis, taking Greek mythology, Greek history, sports coaching and psychology, and a media communication class. He just wrote a proposal for a paid internship and it was accepted. He will be doing commentary for the school radio station covering their sporting events and get paid for it! He's loves sports and getting paid to watch and talk about games is pure joy to him. He's so excited.

What is clear to me is that college is a time of great exploration and growth. You question your beliefs as you brush up against others in your classes, particularly in his freshman year "Western Heritage" class which was really a world view class. You become aware of layers of meaning in literature, movies, friends' lives and your own. The richness of his AmblesideOnline curriculum allowed him to deal with all of that with a minimum of shock. He had read some of the works before with AmblesideOnline and could just review and learn from the discussion. It was easier for him than his classmates who also had to read and absorb the material for the first time in the more complicated cultural setting. He noticed and appreciated this. He came home a strong supporter of our lifestyle and spent his summer encouraging his sister to follow mom's plan in order to get ready for college.

My son grew so much from last year to this. He moved away, made new friends, dealt with sickness, pain and disappointment and came back happy, stronger, and more justified in his self confidence. He did not have any trouble transitioning to college or college level work and was fully prepared for what he encountered. He did have trouble with illness during February and March but did not let it affect his school work. His father and I feel that he is really getting the polishing of his character and knowledge that we were hoping would come from his college experience.

He has given me strict advice to make his younger siblings do even more writing. He tells me I'm being too easy on his sister who is a senior this year and that I need to up her writing workload because college is "all about the essays". His college is very heavily weighted to discussion and writing with no multiple choice tests. You really have to know what you are talking about. The small class size is an ideal format for that type of education and was one of the big draws of that particular college. The fact that he could play tennis outdoors every day and it is on the beach didn't hurt either. He tells me that he was well-prepared and did fine but that I ought to make her do more work than I gave him.

My middle dd took the SAT last spring (her first test ever) and scored well enough to have her options completely open. She is planning to study Biochemistry and Dance with the goal of becoming a veterinarian. She knows what she wants to do, but not where she wants to go just yet. This week she will be limiting her options and getting those applications in. This summer she won the Master Showman contest in 4H at our county fair and competed with her dog at the dog obedience trials at the state fair. Her goats also qualified for state fair. It has been a busy summer. Soon I will be able to report on the college application process for my third child. Only two more to go!


9. My eldest (daughter) is in her third year of college (university) studying music (organ) and English with a double major. She used AO and has done very well . . . she was on the dean's list the first year. She celebrates the fact that she was homeschooled and often wistfully asks to be educated at home again along with her brothers as she finds her classmates uninspired and uninspiring usually, and the "feast" a little skimpy. Stick with AO . . . the water's fine!!

Mar 2007

Laurie's update, Sept 2009

My daughter graduated with that double major and has been working fulltime for a Symphony for the last year and as an organist. She has her own apartment and car and lives a day's drive from us. She is studying for the LSAT and saving money towards law school next fall. [Laurie has since also graduated a son: "He is loving college so far. He's already class vice president . . . so obviously no wallflower!"]

10. My oldest daughter, whom the Advisory affectionately called the "AO guinea pig," feels that her education prepared her richly and abundantly for college, marriage, and life. An AO/HEO student from 5th grade through graduation (eight years total), she was awarded a full four-year scholarship to a highly respected university based on her SAT scores and her entrance essay, which is linked below. She was admitted as an entering freshman into their Collegium V Honors program. During her sophomore year, her poetry received two awards. Now a junior, she has maintained a perfect 4.0 cumulative GPA and is working toward a Bachelor of Arts and Performance in Creative Writing. Based on commendations from her professors, the dean of her college is allowing her to take graduate level courses starting next semester for dual credit toward a master's degree. Now happily married, she is reading Charlotte Mason's series with a local study group and looking forward to using AO with her future children.

~Here is her college entrance essay:

~A glowing introduction to the Dean of her school during her freshman year -- and the humorous fallout at home afterward -- prompted this blog post:

~Finally, here is my favorite of her guest posts on my blog, written a month prior to her high school graduation. I truly love reading this:

~ Lynn Bruce
Sept 2009

11. My oldest son was another AO "guinea pig." During his years with AO (from 4th grade; AO didn't exist before then), he learned to love books, reading, writing, playing piano, and discussing ideas. He graduated as a National Merit Scholar and was offered academic scholarships from five colleges, including two that he hadn't even applied to. He ended up going to a Christian liberal arts college close to home, is living at the dorm and is doing well enough there that he made the Dean's List. He was torn between majoring in music and majoring in English, but finally decided on English; he wants to be a writer. He is involved with another AO student from another state that he met at a CM conference; he sees these conferences as a way to get this generation of AO students excited about a CM education for their own children, the next generation of AO/CM students.

I posted about his National Merit Scholarship on our blog at the time and wrote, "Sometimes parents wonder if AmblesideOnline or a Charlotte Mason education will provide what it takes to prepare a student to get into college. Tim is a good student, self-sufficient, organized, disciplined and able to manage his time, motivated. But his only schooling since fourth grade has been AmblesideOnline (we did Sonlight for his first three years). He's had no formal creative writing, language arts, no math tutoring, no supplemental courses or projects to boost his knowledge of history or anything. So I think that a CM/AO education is enough for any student. Not that a CM education can guarantee the same results, but no education, not even a public school education (since that's the standard that homeschooling is held up to!), can make that kind of guarantee."

Tim posted about his homeschool graduation here; our blog also has some samples of his poetry and other writing.

"Tim's Mom"
Sept 2009

May 2011 Update: Oldest son is doing well going into his fourth year of college; he has made the Dean's list every semester and plans to get married in June 2012 (to another AO graduate!) Son number two, who was my "late bloomer," and didn't read fluently until age 9, wants to join the military. He took his Asvab and scored in the 95th percentile. He says that all the "hard" books from AO gave him an advantage in the reading, vocabulary and comprehension part of the test. Language arts is not his strength, but he scored very, very high on that part of the test without any extra studying or effort. This son has done AO pretty much as written since first grade. He used AO's "lite" years throughout high school. He enjoyed the history books and is interested in economics.

April 2020 Update: Oldest son supported himself with freelance copy editing for a few years, but then settled into a more traditional job; he and his wife are active in the opera scene in Charlotte. Second son (who started AO as a first grader) is married and active duty in the military. Third son graduated in 2014 after 12 years of AO and is happily married and enjoying life.

12. Praise for HEO

Today, my son took the placement exams for our local community college. I was really uncertain how he would do, since we don't grade or do tests (or even AO exams). He did so well that he was placed in their Honors program, and is exempted from a required Critical Reading course. In addition, he has earned a President's Scholarship (free tuition for 4 semesters). We are praising God for His Provision of a free way to college, and are thanking Him for directing us to AO/HEO all those years ago.

~Carol H. :o)
Oct 2010

13. I wanted to give you all a word of encouragement. Let me start with a brief background. Our only child, a boy now 20, started home educating with a mix/match of boxed curriculum, which was all I knew at the time. We became eclectic in our approach. When he was in 8th grade, we found AmblesideOnline. It changed everything! I finally found a way to accomplish what I had dreamed of his education being.

He graduated almost 2 years ago. Until a month before graduation he wasn't sure of his path. Then he felt called to the ministry and found a college that met his entire wish list, Trinity Bible College, Ellendale, ND.

While some of the books we read engaged him, others I admit he endured. Some he knew he wanted to keep, while others he couldn't wait to get out the door. Well today was the second or third time he told me how glad he is that I made he read AO/HEO books, how he wished he had engaged more of them, and how he wished I wouldn't have let him off some of the reading. Oh, yea then there are some of those books he wants back now.

Take heart, stay your course, it will return great dividends.

Sew soon,
Dec 2010

14. How did this happen? My little girl just got off the phone with her freshman advisor. She is all signed up for her fall classes. Yes, that's right, she's going off to college in September. Oh my. Oh my, oh my. (must breathe) While she was on the phone, a professor looked over the advisor's shoulder and said "wow, her ACT score is really high". Thank you AmblesideOnline! But really, how did this get here so fast?

(When asked onlist, "Did you follow AO to a 't'? I'd love to hear any advice you have for those of us with younger children," MaryEllen responded with the following post:)

We didn't homeschool until she was in 5th grade, and didn't find AO until the summer before 9th grade. She has done HEO yrs 7, 9, 10 and 11, pretty much as written. She has always been a strong reader and she loved, loved, loved all the book selections. When she took the ACT she got the highest score on the English portion that you can possibly get. She will be majoring in English at a private liberal arts University.

My advice? Trust the method. Whenever doubt creeps in (as in, 'this doesn't look like what school should look like') make it go away. Trust the method, don't mess with the booklist and schedule, don't speed up, don't double up. Our best years have been when we stuck to the schedule as written. Siblings don't need to be studying the same time periods in history, they will still play together and talk to each other about stuff. Find the best level for each child and stick with it and when they are done move on to the next year. Stop second guessing yourself. Enjoy the books. Enjoy the art. Enjoy the music. Don't "study" an artist, enjoy their work. Don't analyze literary themes in a book, read it. Enjoy it. Identify with the characters, dream about living in their world. Don't study "history dates" study historical figures. Read the biographies. Find heroes. My daughter thinks John Quincy Adams is cool.

May, 2011

15. The following was written by an AO graduate in response to a question from a homeschool parent about whether the literary/creative/arts focus of a CM education is beneficial for boys who are interested in math/science.


First off, let me introduce myself. My name is Caleb Phillips, and I was homeschooled for all of grade school by my wonderful mother. Afterward, I attended a local community college with a major in Liberal Arts (general transfer degree) and then transferred to a state university where I completed a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing; I am now a licensed RN and work in an intensive care unit.

I'm having a hard time answering the question about the, "literary, creative focus," and whether or not it is better for those who "thrive in arts based careers." Mind I'm answering this knowing nothing about you, your background, nor your students, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. I may have gotten a little off-topic from your initial question, but this was the best way I could answer it. I find this hard to answer because I do love the literary, creative approach that Charlotte Mason (CM) uses; in fact, I would go so far as to say that it helped me in my STEM major. Without the ability to read, digest, and move on rapidly, one will quickly fall behind in a science field.

A Charlotte Mason education, although it may seem to focus on heavily on literature, that literature is real, living books (as opposed to "twaddle"), which provide a much broader education than one typically ascribes to "reading a book"--a solid foundation in literature provides much more than is simply quantifiable by the books one has read. I find that abstract thought comes more readily to me than to my peers who were not lucky enough to have been educated at home with a Charlotte Mason approach. The ability to think critically is taught in all college courses (at least in Texas), but I was already familiar with critical thought--Charlotte Mason's educational philosophy is based heavily on critical thought and allowing it to thrive and grow on its own; that is why she is adamant that one should not define words or interject one's own commentary into readings. However, the skills and knowledge obtained through my education are not only useful in the educational realm, they are useful when I make decisions while caring for patients based on my (trained) ability of perception (assessment); when I use the ability to remember things, sometimes hours later; when I use the ability to think critically; when I apply knowledge I have learned; and when I use my capacity to rapidly and quickly condense and consolidate information down to the important facts; as well as when I relate said information back at varying levels of education. These are all things one obtains from utilizing the Charlotte Mason approach to education. Narration teaches much about summarizing and consolidating information, as well as memory; nature walks and keeping a nature journal teach observational skills, writing, and attention to detail (if one draws or paints something from each walk). Music teaches discipline and math, among other things (seriously, I cannot recommend music classes enough!). Honestly, everything is so interconnected it is impossible to list everything one learns from every subject, especially the way CM approached it, because she approached it as a whole and not as individual topics. Ultimately, even if one does not "study" science/STEM in the "typical" way of textbooks and science books, one is exposed to these topics in a much more organic and natural way that really captures and cultivates imagination and understanding of the topic.

Furthermore, I think one needs to realize that education is not simply about preparing someone to do a job--it is about preparing someone for life--that is an important distinction to make. Just because one is focused on science or math does not mean one is unable to also enjoy other subjects. I personally am an avid reader, (I'm up to 30 books already this year!), but I also love science, I am a decent hand at math, I can paint and draw, I play violin, viola, cello. One of my favorite things to do is go walk outside and enjoy nature and just be amazed at the world we live in. My point is that, focusing on another area does not diminish the other areas of study--everything is related somehow: Music is math, nature is science, etc.. Just because it does not seem like one's student is not being exposed to these topics in a CM education does not mean that they are not there--it just may not be in the traditional, textbook, fill in the blank, take the pop-quiz, and pass the exam way, but it is there. Overall, I think by failing to educate with a literary basis and a strong focus on the creative side, one is effectively doing the student a disservice. If one is not balanced then one cannot make effective, well educated decisions.

So, ultimately, I think that to look at a CM education as simply preparing one for a certain type of degree or, what Charlotte Mason might consider, "vocational training," is a narrow-minded goal and misses the point of what she was really all about. I was not merely educated for college and that was the end of it. I was instilled with a life-long love of learning that will allow me to continue to grow. It extends beyond book knowledge and rote memorization. This love of learning is the ultimate goal of a Charlotte Mason education--the life-long desire to satiate this hunger and thirst.

Charlotte Mason said it better than I can, and so I will leave with a few quotes:

"The people themselves begin to clamour for an education which shall qualify their children for life rather than for earning a living. As a matter of fact, it is the man who has read and thought on many subjects who is, with the necessary training, the most capable whether in handling tools, drawing plans, or keeping books."
-- Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, vol 6, pg. 3

"To introduce children to literature is to install them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served. But they must learn to know literature by being familiar with it from the very first. A child's intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find."
-- Charlotte Mason, A Philosophy of Education, vol 6, pg 51

"Thought breeds thought; children familiar with great thoughts take as naturally to thinking for themselves as the well-nourished body takes to growing; and we must bear in mind that growth, physical, intellectual, moral, spiritual, is the sole end of education."
-- Charlotte Mason

"Our aim in education is to give a full life. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. Thou hast set my feet in a large room; should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking--the strain would be too great--but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy. The question is not,----how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education----but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him? I know you may bring a horse to the water, but you cannot make him drink. What I complain of is that we do not bring our horse to the water. We give him miserable little text-books, mere compendiums of facts, which he is to learn off and say and produce at an examination; or we give him various knowledge in the form of warm diluents, prepared by his teacher with perhaps some grains of living thought to the gallon. And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children."
-- Charlotte Mason, "School Education", p. 170-171

Caleb Phillips
April, 2018

Thanks to Janet Hellerman and the members of the AO/HEO planning list for their help in compiling, editing and proofreading this page.

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