Ambleside Online Year 3: A Year in Review and Advice

I was recently asked to contribute a blog post on the official Ambleside Online blog, Archipelago (man, I wish someone would pronounce that out loud for me someday), about my family’s adventures in AO Year 3.

My oldest child is about to enter Year 4 (we’ll probably start the first Monday in August), so I found myself looking for advice from Year 4 veterans. And, since my son and I are just finishing up Year 3, I thought I’d offer the same type of advice to those about to begin Year 3. I wanted to write a detailed blog post about specific books on the schedule, but because I love AO so much and respect the vision of the Advisory, I couldn’t reproduce the Year 3 schedule here on my blog (violates the Terms of Service). I was so happy when advisory member Wendi reached out and asked me to put my words on Archipelago.

So, if you click through to my guest post, you’ll find all the advice I could muster for those of your headed into AO Year 3. Things like:

  • A list of all the Year 3 books in order of most challenging to least challenging
  • What series of fiction books helped my 9 year old get through (and love) Charles Kingsley’s book of Greek mythology
  • Which Year 3 Marco Polo book we chose and why (and how to help you choose one, too)
  • Which books on the schedule my son was able to read independently by term 3
  • What books worked for my family for math and foreign language
  • The little “extra activities” that get us out of the house but still are in line with CM philosophy (hint: Cub Scouts and more!)

Writing this guest post was very cathartic for me as we’re coming in for a landing from Year 3 and ramping up to plan our Year 4. I will be contributing two more guest posts on Years 1 and 2 in the near future.

In closing, I recently saw a Facebook post asking AO users why they chose Ambleside Online over other “Charlotte Mason products,” and this is what I had to say:

  1. I love AO’s ministry focus — it’s completely free and no one profits from it monetarily.
  2. I respect the fact that AO has an advisory board (multiple people) instead of just one or two people in charge of a company. This ensures me that AO will remain steady in its vision and live on even after some advisory members retire.
  3. You just can’t top the worldwide community of AO users, starting with the forum and now extending to the Facebook group and multiple bloggers. There’s so much encouragement and geekiness over books that I don’t get anywhere else.

I don’t think any other CM “product” offers all three of these facets. As much effort as the advisory and auxiliary board members and a whole host of volunteers have put into the making and maintaining of AO, what really makes it a triple threat (sorry, sports talk) is the worldwide community of those of us using AO everyday to educate our children and ourselves. Thanks for contributing!

Until next week (or so).

I’m reading:


Moderately challenging books:

Stiff books:






11 thoughts on “Ambleside Online Year 3: A Year in Review and Advice

  1. I loved reading this! Like you, I have a year 3 and a year 1 student. I suspect we might combine a bit more than you, but this sounded a lot like my life. 🙂


  2. Thank you for this! I always love seeing how others incorparate AO. We are doing AO 1 so would love to see how you do your days there.


  3. Thanks for sharing. I did not do both years but will be doing Y4 and Y2 for 2017-2018. I am scared. Seems like a lot. Any advice?


    1. I know Year 4 is the first year of Form 2, which is the beginning of Latin, dictation, Plutarch, Shakespeare in original language, and written narrations. I’ve been told that those can be introduced slowly. Year 2 is a lot like Year 1, just a continuation. Several Year 1 books span Years 1 through 3.


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