Topic | SCM vs. Ambleside

This topic contains 7 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  fivestones 8 years, 5 months ago.

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  • Inhisgrip

    I’m going back and forth between AO and SCM. I really need some guidance. AO looks so rigorous compared to SCM as some of the literature selections for 8th graders are selected for Year 4 in AO. Now, I realize that AO Years are necessarily grade specific, I would be using Year 4 for my 10 yo 5th grader. My oldest son – 13 yo 8th grade – would be using Year Pre-7 AO.

    Does that makes sense? Essentially my 5th grader would be reading books (in AO) that are recommended for my 8th grader (in SCM).

    I’d really love to know the main differences in AO and SCM. I’m getting kind of freaked out again making this decision.





    Hi Christine,

    I’m sorry that I can’t answer your question directly since I’ve only used SCM and not AO. However, I’ve seen this topic come up alot, as it seems a very popular one. 😉

    Heres a link that should help you out, at least while you wait to hear from others who have personal experience with AO verses SCM.

    Have a great day!


    I use AO (but I like this forum better than the AO yahoo lists and I’m glad you guys let me hang out here). I don’t use AO exclusively, but a large part of our schoolwork follows the AO guidelines.

    You’re right – the AO years don’t necessarily correspond with school grades. When I notice people getting burnt out on AO, I also notice they are using a higher year than is necessary. Year 1 is fairly easy for ages 7+, but after that, the literature is quite rigorous.

    It’s not necessary to make it through all 12 years of AO in order to get an excellent high school education and to be fully prepared for college.

    I wish the AO Advisory would rename the years in AO because I do think the labeling causes undue stress.

    When in doubt, go for the lower year. If the lower level turns out too easy, my suggestion is to go through that year at a faster pace to catch up to the proper level. I think that approach is much better than starting too high because you want to be at a certain “year.”




    I used AO and switched to HIFI (another CM blog curriculum), but I found it to be just too much for us and began to kill our joy as we felt overwhelmed. I’ve decided to switch to SCM b/c I’d like all of my kids on the same cycle of history (for many reasons) and the Lord has been telling me to simplify!

    What I’m doing is using SCM as my framework and adding in favorites from AO and HIFI, like natural history selections. I just compiled a Master book list that I posted yesterday to help me with this. I printed my SCM list and use the other as my searchable, sortable database of extras.

    I’m discovering there are many ways to implement CM in our homeschools and that I like the freedom of choosing some of my own resources instead of taking someone else’s list as is. I offer this as just one more way to do it.

    I think a big key is in deciding if you’d like to combine into one history cycle or have everyone in their own time period. And I agree w/ Esby about not getting caught up in the year. I probably would have done better at a half pace or something, but I still wanted the simplicity and togetherness of studying together.



    thanks for all the links to the past responses to this. Even they had links inside them and I ended up reading about 8-10 different threads. Wow am I so glad!! Much of Bookworm’s reasoning for not liking a canned curriculum is exactly where I am at. I feel so boxed in and I think we are definitely going with the SCM organizer. We have HST, but I just don’t think it will do for me what the Organizer will.

    We also love doing history together. I mean we just love it and I think I was looking at the AO lists and going – my daughter will NEVER get this. History already isn’t her thing, but she enjoys it when we discuss things and have interesting reads. History is my son’s thing for sure, he wants to be a history teacher or prof. But, history is one of those subjects that can easily be taken on in a humanistic viewpoint and we have to keep our worldview in check. I was looking at many of the AO books and thinking “uh, uh!”

    He wants to dive in deep to history this year and so, I believe we are going to give him extra reading as well as have him do Starting Points.

    Thanks ladies!! I believe we will make SCM our “home”, but will incorporate more reading. If I don’t push it on them, they totally get soaked into reading.

    I also have a Kindergartener this year and the htought of having 3 different years going at once was over the top. In 2011 I’ll have 4 in school and likely a new baby. In 2013, I’ll have a senior, and probably 5 in school. Ack! We’ll stick to SCM and doing it “our” way. 🙂

    I did order the SCM all day CM seminar including laying down the rails and I’m soooo excited. Hoping it comes early next week. A friend is coming over to watch it with me.


    Although AO didn’t work for us, I can’t imagine not having those book suggestions to incorporate. Although I enjoy and utilize the books written by today’s authors, we miss so much in the beauty of language. Those older books have that rich, eloquent speech. I love the way they use words to paint pictures. Today’s books seem to include too many pictures if that’s possible. Can it be that we lose the need for verbalizing because it’s too easy to just pop in an illustration now?

    AO uses those older turn-of-the-century works that provide the language I so enjoy. I’m reintroduced to words I had forgotten and my mind is stretched by the challenging language.

    A friend of mine said that today’s books (adult works included) are written on a 5th grade level. I don’t know if that’s true, or where she got that information, but we do have a much more relaxed form of communication. I have been noticing of late how meager my own vocabulary is. I tend to use a limited number of descriptive words and I’m working towards building my own language base so that my DD’s will follow suit.

    At any rate, SCM definitely has the plan down. It’s been a perfect fit for our family. We have utterly enjoyed the book recommendations here and then tucked in a few more for additional flavor.

    So, don’t miss out on AO’s book selections, just include them when and where it works for your family.

    Doug Smith

    It’s been great to hear everyone’s perspectives on the various choices out there.

    We don’t look at it as an us vs them kind of thing and hope you’ll use whatever fits your family best. We think of our curriculum guide as a starting point you can customize any way you like. That’s why we’ve mostly stayed out of the discussion so far. Besides, we’ve been enjoying hearing what you all have to say. 🙂

    But the comparison question does keep coming up and we wanted to address that. So you’ll see that we added an introduction to the main Curriculum Guide page explaining some of the goals and benefits we had in mind.

    Take a look and and let us know if there is anything we should add or that you’d like explained better. We’re eager to hear what you think.



    Hello, I am joining this conversation a little late, been busy packing 🙂 However I just wanted to say that I was strictly AO for 2 full years. I have two children 12 and 9. This is our first full year with SCM. We have had a GREAT year! I have enjoyed bringing my children back together. I do agree with gr8tfulCMmom. I did keep some of the book choices. Mainly Natural Science reads, Pilgrims progress, and some of the poetry. There are probablly others, but I can’t think of them off the top my head. I have enjoyed this site tremendously and believe that both the SCM and the AO team work very hard at putting a CM education together for us. This one just fits better for us.



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