Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Planning AmblesideOnline from Table to Table

By guest blogger Dawn Garrett

I've had a lot of people ask how I plan an AmblesideOnline term and how I'm helping my children to learn how to manage their work. Since the two go hand in hand, you get one long post :)

For the quick version, you can go to my profile on Instagram and click on the Highlight circle named "Assigning AO" (I think this is an in-app feature only)

We're doing Year 7 right now, so the first thing I do is go to that page and print the booklists (with the footnotes) and read through everything. I use this to determine what books we own and what we need and order all the books. That can be fun. I try to do this a little ahead of when I'm going to be planning - so a week or two before I'm planning to plan. Then I have these beautiful stacks of books.  For Year 7, I knew I'd be doing some adjustments for R-girl, so I printed both the Detailed and Basic/Lite version.

Once I have the books, I download the modifiable ODT schedule and open it in Open Office and copy/paste the table into your favorite spreadsheet application. It should look something like this:

This year, I pulled out some things that were going to be done with Jason and some things that were going to be done during our Morning Time, Whatchamacallit, and left the rest in the main block. You can see where there are blank rows as separators.

Once I've determined how we're going to approach the work, I create a separate spreadsheet for each week (you can see them across the bottom of the page) and put the week number and the dates for that week number).  Then I copy the subject column to each of those tabs and the assignments for that particular week to the tab. So the column headed Week 2 went on the tab named "2 April 23-27." I made a separate spreadsheet for all twelve weeks (plus break weeks).

Each week's tab looks something like the above. I then split out the reading that is assigned to, at maximum, 5 readings per week. Because I have them, I use the books as I'm doing this and some of them I'll put a small (in pencil) star where I want them to stop for the day.  I put the total number of pages assigned in a column and I have a column at the end for the count of readings for each book. That count is summed. In this case, there are 25 independent readings for the week. I don't count those that will be done in Morning Time or with Daddy.

I can then print that week's tab for them - I do hide the column that has the whole weekly reading assignment, and just give them the split up readings.

25 readings is easy to deal with - they can do 5 per day. They don't have to do any on Wednesday (except we generally do Ivanhoe and Beowulf as audiobooks on Wednesday), but they generally choose to in order to cut down the assignments on the other days.  On Monday, they write the assignments in the daily boxes at the bottom of the sheet. This helps them learn to evaluate a week's worth of work and divide it reasonably. We've worked hard to see how doing a little bit every day is better than cramming too much into any given day. We've looked at how that page number column comes into play.

Some day, I hope to hand them the week's assignments and they'll split out the readings, but that day is not yet.

This is the newest step and one we've done for a little more than a term, so it may not stay the same. So far it has worked beautifully. Because we have one set of books for three students, a standard timetable schedule is a nightmare. Also a nightmare: lessons that take all day because there's no sense of urgency or accountability. This system was borne of sheer desperation.

We do Whatchamacallit from 8:30-10:15. After a 15 minute break, the independent work portion of our day begins.

I have a duplexing printer, so I print the above form on the back of their weekly assignment page.  Each day, the children take the book list they have made for the day, Math, Latin, a written narration, and penmanship and assign the work to half-hours. Some things take a full half hour, some don't. They have to be careful with the different books and assign them in appropriate blocks. They have to plan if they're going to read with someone else, or that they don't plan the same books at the same time. It takes some juggling and thought. I love it. So far, it has worked well, with just a few growing pains. It fits with my general philosophy of helping them learn to manage their own workload so they can be independent.

Now, I can start the pre-reading. It's plenty of work, but it's good work.

So, there you go - from AO and their weekly table to the individual day's table how we're planning AmblesideOnline at this time.

It's sure to change.

Dawn Garrett blogs at ladydusk.blogspot.com and is a 
collaborator of the CharlotteMasonIRL account on Instagram. 
She homeschools her three children in Central Ohio.


  1. Oh, this was excellent, Dawn! Thank you very kindly for walking us through both planning and teaching your children how to manage their time and assignments independently.

  2. Just made AO planning even easier and made my day. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. I will use everything you suggest in this post. I'll start my second year of homeschooling in September and haven't been able to put my act together yet; I feel as if my first year was a disaster.

    1. Give yourself some grace - do the next thing! It can take 3 years or more to get your feet under you. I'm not sure what struggles you had, or how old your child(ren) are, but make sure you adjust for your family - should you schedule the readings per day? Should your child? I'm sure you can do it!

    2. Thanks so much for the confidence.
      My kids are 10 and 8 but they were traumatized in school, specially my youngest. They are both reluctant readers and my youngest doesn't like to write because he was forced to do it every friday in detention so I'm trying to find a method that'll work for us. On top of everything my youngest has ADHD.
      I'll keep trying though cause I never want them to set foot in that place again.

    3. What a frustrating and sad situation!

      Happily, your 8yo doesn't have to do more than 5 minutes of his best writing each day for a couple more years. Set a timer and show him.

      I don't know what year(s) you're doing, I hope they're early ones - like 1&3. There's no rush. Let the stories do the work.

      Spend a lot of time playing - outside if you can. I'll be praying for you all.

    4. Yeah, I picked 1&2 because I wanted my oldest to start slowly, she is the most reluctant reader of them all, even more than my 8YO.
      Their math is also lacking so we are reviewing that as well.

    5. Souds great! And take your time. Remediating the damage is the first goal; foundations are important! Enjoy your kiddos <3

      (Oh, and I would say, don't stress about the copywork with your 8yo. It'll keep.)