Whenever I first started homeschooling my children, I thought buying enough of the best resources was the most important thing. I got what they call “a big box curriculum”, the ELITE one at that, in order to give my children what I thought would be the best education.
At that point, we had two children, and it wasn’t that hard to go through my son’s PreK and Kindergarten years doing that. I did feel overwhelmed that the workbooks for the important subjects were not a joy to him, but instead, something we fought about every day. And that even for the level we were doing, we seemed to have a mountain of things to get through. But I chalked it up to being new homeschoolers and going through the birth pains of that.
Then we added my daughter to the mix, trying to do the same PreK things with her that my son had done. I was always having to put off what I wanted to do with her in order to finish helping my son do what he needed to do. I was trying to get two completely different levels and grades done. Even though it wasn’t entirely necessary for my daughter to start at that point, I realized that if we were continuing to pile work on each child for each grade it would actually be impossible. That’s when I started to research Charlotte Mason and the way that she implemented school for various stages and ages of children. The idea of family learning intrigued me because it meant that I wouldn’t have to keep up with individual subjects for everything, but could keep the core things that way, like reading, writing, and math, while being able to integrate everything else for my kids.
We started by trying out components of two well-known Charlotte Mason curriculums in order to see which one worked the best for us. I got a Morning Time guide from Simply Charlotte Mason in order to start implementing Bible, the Arts, and more into our days. And I got one from A Gentle Feast, first the Advent plans for Christmas and then the Summer plans which I used even during the school year to get a feel for them.
The Simply Charlotte Mason plans were good and helpful. I loved the prints of the paintings we got for the artist that we studied that term, and we loved going through a Hymn together, and starting to memorize scripture. But it bothered me that I would have to select so many different things in order to build out the rest of our needs. History, Geography, Nature Study were things you choose separately and I could do that, but it felt a little intimidating and expensive.
I loved that the Gentle Feast curriculum has a Morning Time bundle that you can buy and that it corresponds to the Cycle that you are doing. So you purchase two packets of curriculum, and that year you buy the resources (the living books) that go along with the Form that your children are in for that Cycle. All in all, you purchase 4 cycles of the curriculum and then you have lists of resources for each of the Forms you need. You buy the books as you need them and can shop around for used books, deals, or find them at your local library.
When I started researching all of this, I had no idea what a Form was. So for reference A Gentle Feast Forms are broken in up into 4 groups:
Right now I have one Form 1 student, but my 5 year-old daughter is also doing Form 1 with my son as I read aloud. None of it is mandatory for her, she just gets to enjoy what she’s listening to and plays in between. Next year, they will both officially be in Form 1 until my son moves to Form 2 the following year. As my other daughters grow, they will fit in as well.
If you are interested in A Gentle Feast, I would recommend looking at the Summer Morning Time Plans to get a feel for what kind of things are included for Enrichment Studies and to go to the website to check it out! I’ll be doing a review of our year in Cycle 1, Form 1 as we finish our last term to write about how we implemented things.
Until Then! <3 Kate