As a stream can rise no higher than its source, so it is probable that no educational effort can rise above the whole scheme of thought which gives it birth; and perhaps this is the reason of all the fallings from us, vanishings, failures, and disappointments which mark our educational records.
— Charlotte Mason

Method of Education

Ambleside School of Fredericksburg is a private Christian school based on the philosophy of Charlotte Mason (1842-1923). Ambleside is a movement that is redefining education by:

  • providing a broad and varied curriculum of inspirational and disciplinary subjects through direct encounter with living books
  • instilling the importance of daily habits in order to author a full and free life
  • valuing right relationships with God, self, others and creation

Our primary concern is the kind of student each child is becoming, not the mastery of particular technique. We‘re confident that the student who masters the art of learning will attain his full potential for mastering data and technique. The student who masters the art of relating well to God, self, others, ideas, and creation will attain the fullness of life for which she was created.

We endeavor that the 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” (Charlotte Mason). The courses of study vary between the grades, their time at school, and the depth at which they are encountered.

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.

Ambleside students do the scholar’s work of the 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, machines).