Ambleside’s curriculum is provided by Ambleside Schools International (ASI).  This curriculum was developed by Maryellen St. Cyr, the founder of Ambleside School of Fredericksburg and now ASI’s Director of Curriculum, with input and advice from the many teachers and principals she has worked with over the years.  The curriculum is annually reviewed and updated with input from each of ASI’s member schools.

The Ambleside curriculum coursework provides:

  • A wide and varied course of study
  • Alternation between disciplinary and inspirational subjects for both the development of skills and the mastery of content without drudgery.
  • An acquaintance with knowledge that is vital, fruitful, and connected with its forming ideas.
  • The use of books characterized as “the best thought of the best writers.”
  • The use of materials that aid in understanding and exploration without diluting the thought of the discipline with mere entertainment.

Students should have relations of pleasure and intimacy established with as many as possible of the interests proper to him: not learning a slight or incomplete smattering about this or that subject, “but plunging into vital knowledge, with a great field before him which all his life he will not be able to fully explore.”

Narration is the basic methodology of Charlotte Mason education. Narration is an active retelling of what the student has heard and learned. Such a retelling requires the use of the child’s whole mind as well as their memory, and demands careful attention to a single reading of the source, without review and repetitions. While most frequently oral, narration may also take the form of an essay, dramatization, or drawing.  During narration a child assimilates the knowledge, makes it part of them, so they can then use it to express, analyze, compare, contrast and grow.

Ambleside students do the scholar’s work of first hand reading of primary sources of literary merit that present inspiring ideas in all subjects, not dry, predigested facts and texts. Their study also includes direct contact and observation of real objects from nature (plants, minerals, animals, the elements), and art, music, and other human disciplines (maps, instruments, etc).

Here is a sample of subjects covered.  Subjects vary slightly as grade levels progress:

Inspirational Subjects Disciplinary Subjects
Composer Study
Nature Study
Picture Study
Read Aloud
World History
Physical Education

“Among these is the Desire for Knowledge, knowledge-hunger being natural to everybody. History, Geography, the thoughts of other people, roughly, the humanities, are proper for us all, and are the objects of the natural desire of knowledge.  So too, are Science, for we live in the world; and Art, for we all require beauty, and are eager to know how to discriminate; social science, Ethics, for we are aware of the need to learn about the conduct of life; and Religion for…we all want God.”