If you’re visual, like me, you look at AO’s robust weekly lists (or really, any CM-inspired program) and begin to panic. Everything is so rich and beautiful, but how does it all fit together? How can you organize it in such a way that your child (and you) can keep track of what you’ve done and what comes next?
While the answers to these questions can be found in the AO site (and forum) itself, or in other CM-inspired social groups, sometimes a visual image can help. Here’s an example of how I organize our AmblesideOnline weeks (I’ll show you the chart first and then offer an explanation below):
Click here for a larger, clearer view:
A Bit of Background:
I have four students in four different AO years, and (with a bit of tweaking) we’ve been using AO since the beginning – seven years, now! I began using this template with my older children when they were in 1st and 3rd grade, printing the charts each week, attaching them to a clipboard and hanging them on the wall. My boys have semi-outgrown this method, and now rely on the full-term downloadable charts found on AO’s site as their preferred way of keeping track of school work. But my younger children still need a weekly chart that they (and I) can easily reference, and that can be marked as progress is made. I love this template so much that I haven’t altered it since the beginning. 🙂
Note: I’ve written before about how we make AO work for us, and this chart is explained in more detail there. For the purpose of this page I will just give a basic explanation.
Explanation Of The Chart:
You see two columns, divided into five sections. Call them what you want, but here are the titles that have worked for me –
- Daily Alone: the daily work belonging only to the child, rather than to the family. One circle to be checked off per day as the work is done.
- Daily Together: the daily (or almost daily) work done together as a family – think, Circle Time, Morning Time, what have you. I try to hit these three times a week. You might want to do them less or more. Add or subtract circles to suit your needs!
- Weekly Alone: the weekly work belonging to the individual child, to be done alone or with me. These are items the child doesn’t tend to every day. (Some of this can be moved into Weekly Together.)
- Weekly Together: the weekly work done together as a family. Again, tasks not tended to every day. (Also might be part of Circle time, etc.)
- Reading: The child’s readings for the week. On this downloadable version I’ve included all of the Year One, Term One books for AmblesideOnline. The reading list (and the entire schedule) can be edited to match any term or year. (My actual Year One list will look different than what I show you here, because I tweak to suit our needs.)
How We Use The Chart:
- Add page numbers to reading list. Each week I look at the AO site (or a printed PDF) to see what books are scheduled. Beside the book title on my chart I fill in the scheduled page numbers, leaving a blank space (or the word “none”) where no reading is required. I do this on my computer, but it can easily be written in by hand. I also take note of any readings we might have missed and adjust my page numbers to match our reality.
- Mark off what the child completes. My elementary students love to check those circles! Each day we work to complete all our circles in the Daily Alone and a few from the reading list as well as at least one task from each of the other sections.
- Be okay with what doesn’t get marked off. The purpose of this chart is not only to keep us on track, but to help us visualize the “feast” AO has spread. We are not going to eat everything at the proverbial banquet table. In my house, what doesn’t get marked off in a week becomes the first priority of the next week, or simply (gasp!) is forgiven and let go. 😉
- Let the schedule be a servant. (We don’t exist to serve the schedule!) It’s tempting to add a million things to a chart like this (you will see my own personal touches that deviate from AO’s recommendations – Starfall, hugging Mama) but simplicity really is a key in a CM education. Cut back and back and back until you find a gentle yet rigorous rhythm, and then, if you must, play with adding other things in.
Your schedule is your servant, not your master. It doesn’t exist to be a source of guilt, but to serve you both as a tool, and as a mirror of reality. Learn from it, and wield it, but guard your mind so that you do not become enslaved to it. Let it be a reflection of your needs and your child’s needs, your strengths and your child’s strengths, your weaknesses and your child’s weaknesses. It’s a tool.
- Add times lengths to subjects (you’ll see I’ve added a few as examples).
- Organize your schedule by time (minute, hour) increments – as in: 9:00 Circle Time, 9:30 Math, etc. (This doesn’t work for my family!)
- Organize your schedule by rhythm (this is what we do – we have morning work and afternoon work, set within windows between meals and snacks and naps).
- In our family, a child does not mark off a reading until it has been narrated (usually). I didn’t make a separate circle to check off narrations, but you can if you want!
About The Downloads:
- I have included a Pages document, and a Word document.
- Documents are fully editable. You can adapt this one download to any week, any term, and any year of AO or other CM-inspired program.
- Creating those circles: for a long time I used an annoying little image insert to make my checkbox circles. Then one day a brilliant woman on the AO forum said she uses a capital letter O instead of a graphic (hello, where has my brain been?), and that’s what I’ve done ever since. So if you need to add circles, just use that capital O. 🙂
Again, here is the downloadable version, in two different formats. Let me know if this helps you get things figured out. I’d love to hear your feedback and see the tweaks you make, or glimpse the weekly chart you end up creating yourself!
Would you like to receive notifications as more downloads become available, or receive my CM newsletter, The Ambler?
Every lesson must have its own time, and no other time in this world is there for it. The sense of the preciousness of theme, of the irreparable loss when a ten minutes’ lesson is thrown away, must be brought home.
No talent, no genius, is worth much without the power of attention; and this is the power which makes men or women successful in life…Attention is no more than this – the power of giving your mind to what you are about.
–Charlotte Mason, Formation of Character, pages 31, 29