5 Aug 2012

The AO Forum

During the week the Ambleside Online Forum opened its doors - or whatever the cyber-equivalent is - for beta testing and fine tuning before becoming open for all.

The forum provides a place for those of us interested in Charlotte Mason, and who are using the Ambleside Online curriculum, to meet together to discuss the joys and difficulties that are common to all of us as homeschooling mothers. During its first week it has certainly been an exciting and happening place to be!

A group of mothers educating their children using similar methods will discover that they have many other interests in common as well, and so in addition to questions on how long maths takes in your home, and which Alexander Bell biography to purchase for AO4, there have been wonderful discussions on topics as diverse as whether reading the encyclopaedia as a child qualifies you as being gifted or just plain strange ( I vote the former); which part of America wins the title of having the strangest accent, or whether, in fact, that award belongs to us as Australians; how to make yoghurt and bake bread; and which blogging platform you prefer. It's been a heady experience.

Along with the myriad things these women and I have in common, I am also struck by some of the things that I don't share.

  • I don't, for example, preread my child's school books (although I sometimes do so just before I have her narrate.)
  • I don't change curricula very often, preferring to work with what we have to make it work for my daughter. Changing curricula causes more problems than it fixes IMHO.
  • I don't restrict my Jemimah's television watching to only educational channels or to movies in foreign languages, although we watch very little telly per se. Similarly, the odd Paul Jennings or Andy Griffiths book will not ruin her forevah.
  • I don't match field trips with school. In fact, we don't do field trips as such, preferring to call it living a full and varied life when we visit museums, art galleries, music performances, Sovereign Hill, or the ballet.
  • I don't ever allow my daughter to spend hours and hours dawdling over a maths sheet. I prefer to discover what the issue is, and to give it another go in the morning. This is not to say that the problem has never arisen, mind you...
  • I do not school watching the clock. I read a book until the section is finished; Jemimah reads a book until the section is finished; we do one Maths sheet and it usually takes half an hour, but I don't stress if it takes a bit more or less time than that. I would be extremely stressed if I schooled with a timer by my side.
  • In a similar vein, I do not stress if we get a little bit behind. Sometimes we read a book extra a day for a while to catch up; at other times we need to add a few days to the end of term. Either way it all works out eventually.
  • I am not an academic scholar. I don't read much about homeschooling, I just get on and do it. Apart from reading Charlotte Mason's volumes, which I reread on a regular basis, I rarely read about education. Some of the books those erudite mums read make my head hurt. Groan.
  • I do not stress over the fact that my daughter is not reading most of her own books nearing the end of AO5. The fact that she can read them if I ask her to, and that she can understand and narrate them is far more important to me. She mentioned at breakfast that the dog was discombobulated by us changing the position of her bowl. What other ten year old uses discombobulated in usual speech?
  • I do not organise my AO books. I just stick 'em on the shelf with all the other books. I do have some system - Aussie history with Aussie history, literature with literature, but I don't do anything else to keep them separate. Books we are using currently, of course, are easily accessible. In my case they live at the back of my desk.
  • I don't document our days. Maybe that's because I live in Victoria and don't need to, but there seem to be lots of mums who document whether they need to or not.
  • I do not stress over textbooks. I am happy to use them sometimes. Miss Mason used textbooks for Maths and science and languages. Why can't I?
The loveliest thing about the AO Forum, to me, is that even though I don't do any of these things is that in each case there has been a group of parents who do. Each of us has something to offer and contribute. We are all there to help and encourage each other and we are all there to learn. The forum has already been a fantastic help to me and it is not even really open yet. I can't wait to see what it will become.

I'm moderating over there in a number of fora including Working/Single Parents, the Gifted forum, Maths, and our very own Aussie/NewZealand corner. Australianising AO is my particular passion and I'm really excited about having our own little haven to look at how we can make AO work for us in the Antipodes.

I'd really love it if you'd come and visit me in any of my little corners of cyberspace. It's a really thrilling place to be, and I get really excited when one of my dear bloggy pals drops by.

If you use AO and you're a member of the yahoo group, do come and say Gidday.



  1. The AO forum is set up in such an easy and wonderful way to browse around the subjects that people are discussing. I love going there already. Thanks again Jeanne! :-)

  2. Love the word 'discombobulated'. I love all those things you don't do and think what you do do is wonderful. I'm am trying to be better at using what we have and making it work, I think you are right when you say changing can create more problems.
    I am so grateful to your 'Australianising' AO I am finding it helpful. I must blog more often about what we've read lately.
    Blessings, Renelle

  3. Im with you with all the things you don't do, and I'm glad you don't pre read everything your daughter reads as some mothers do (I wasn't one of them). You sound very relaxed about how and what you do.

  4. Yes some of those AO mums really intimidate me :) I have been bold thus time and joined the forum to keep you company Jeanne because I love you forevah:)

  5. Ooh, mutual appreciation society here! Love you right back!

  6. I love reading about your way of thinking and doing. And I'm glad you have another forum to enjoy :)

    "Discombobulated" must be a buzz word at present - DH asked me a few weeks ago what it meant, as he'd heard it somewhere. I gladly looked it up for him, and we had so much fun using it that DS8 and DD7 soon caught on (it's now part of their daily repertoire too). I liked how it's so easy to show the kids how to segment a BIG word for spelling. Now DH tells me he shared the info I gave him about it in the train sheds where he works, and it's all the rage. Thinking about sending him to work with a word of the week! We'll soon have a very articulate train-construction work force!

    Big question ........ what should be the NEXT word??????

  7. Lovely. Thanks for sharing.

  8. lol Jemimah would fit right in around here! It has amused my children enormously over the years to realise just how large their own vocabulary is from having to put up with me discoursing ad nausaem [which I can't actually spell]. They were very surprised. Now they just tend to smirk smugly.

  9. Gasp! You don't pre-read and edit the books?? Shock! Your child watches NORMAL tv?? Oh my! Don't mention all the wine you guys like either or they'll throw you out of the forum!! lol.. or that Jemima is allowed trousers shorts and a 21st Century swimming suit! I'm afraid to ask but do you allow friends who aren't related or who don't attend your church. Welcome to homeschooling in the American Bible Belt!! Great post--as always!

  10. Oh, what fun! When I get back to "real life," I'm sure I'll pop in regularly.

  11. Jeanne, I'd be interested to know what you mean by saying that reading the encyclopedia qualifies a child as gifted, or do you mean that reading it turns the child into being gifted, or does it mean that to have the drive and interest to read it is a special gift, lol? Since entering the homeschooling world, I've come to view the term 'gifted' a whole lot differently...


I'd love you to leave me a message. Tell me what you like - and what you don't. Just remember that this is what we do in our family - it doesn't have to be what you do in yours...