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Why We Use A Gentle Feast

As a part of the #whyweloveAGF challenge this month, I wanted to let you know why I chose this particular homeschool curriculum. As a part of my introduction last week, I mentioned that I started out homeschooling thinking that resources and workbooks were the important part of getting ready each year. Those things are important, but in many ways, adding work and workbooks up on our children will only keep us from seeing who they are, what they are interested in, and being able to experience the best part of homeschool- building a good and loving relationship with each child.

In May 2019, I attended the Wild + Free Europe conference. Here are some pictures of us in Stratford-upon-Avon with our goose (just kidding):

It was great, and I met some Mamas who I am still friends with on Instagram. I love to see their days and their hearts spill over onto my feed. The biggest takeaway for me from the conference was realizing how much our workload was getting in the way of our relationships together. I was especially touched by a talk from Leah Boden who helped me to see this. She mentioned how our children are like seeds, and just like seeds they grow from the nourishment that they receive from us- the love, the time, the care, and even food and water, but in the end they are going to be themselves. Seeds are made each according to their kind and God designs them to grow into what they will be. We can’t see what that will be, all we can see in the beginning is the shell. And by a great and slow miracle, we get to be a part of their every day, experiencing the small moments and growth that strain together into who they are each meant to be, each the way that God designed. Sometimes I act like my children are my design, but they are not, and I can’t force them to be. I wanted our home education to reflect this important truth.

I wrote a post on how we settled on Charlotte Mason which you can read here. Here is how A Gentle Feast has helped me nuture the relationships I have with my children as I get to be a part of their everyday:

This is a little picture of where we do our morning time every morning. We start with reading a passage from the Bible, working on our Scripture memory, singing a hymn, and praying together for the day. Then we choose one of our Beauty Loop subjects studying a painter or composer, reading a Fable or Tale, and working on some of our recitation for the term. What do we get out of this time together in the Word and in our Beauty subjects? We dwell on beautiful things together, we speak to one another about what we think, we pray for each other, and we recite beautiful things. It’s good food for us everyday and a perfect way to start the day.

Then we move into our individual subjects: Reading and Math before lunch.

We return to our Gentle Feast subjects after lunch, focusing our time in the living books from the curriculum in History, Natural History, Geography, Nature Study, and Literature. I read these books aloud and my kids spend time narrating what they heard. Two of my children do this by first drawing something that they heard, and then orally narrating something for me to include in their narration journals for the subject. Maybe it’s obvious that one of our favorite books this year was “The Burgess Animal Book for Children” by Thornton W. Burgess, but we feel like we have become friends with the forest animals in the book and speak about them that way. Even telling each Gray Squirrel that we see on our walks, “Hi, Happy Jack! How are you?” All of these books give richer experience to our life and learning. We have good conversation, we learn from the mistakes of the past together, we speak about the importance of nature, conservation, and kindness. It’s the perfect way to finish our school time before rest, handicrafts and play.

The living books from the curriculum embody this quote:

And all the time we have books, books teeming with ideas fresh from the minds of thinkers upon every subject to which we can wish to introduce children.” 
— Charlotte Mason

Some of them are very old, some are newer and I love that! It truly feels like a feast.

So those are the two main reasons why we love A Gentle Feast. Morning Time and the Living Books we have found through the Cycles. Next week I’ll write about the Most Influential Book We Read Aloud this year!

If you are interested in the curriculum, you can check it out through my affiliate link here. When I wanted to get a taste of the way it worked, I started with a few of the digital morning time manuals: like the Summer Morning Time Packet, perfect for the summer. It contains 4 weeks of the Beauty subjects (below) which can be stretched out to give a little bit of beauty to your summer and keep you a little more grounded with just a hint of routine:

  1. Bible and character readings
  2. Hymn
  3. Poem
  4. Picture Study
  5. Music Appreciation
  6. A “Just for Fun” activity
  7. Picture book and a chapter book suggested readings

Until next time, Enjoy the Spring! <3 Kate

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