We are roughly six weeks into A Gentle Feast, a curriculum based off of a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education. I am being completely honest here, I was a little apprehensive going into A Gentle Feast, simply because it meant we were going all in with Charlotte’s methods.
Not because I don’t fully appreciate Charlotte’s philosophy…
My concern was being able to pull it off.
What do I even mean?
Would I be able to take all the richness of a Charlotte Mason philosophy and adequately apply her methods into our homeschool?
I personally received my own education through the public school system. Which mainly teaches from one teaching style: dry text books, a teacher that lectures, worksheets, book reports, the occasional project, with a extra helping of busy work.
It was the same for the majority of my college coursework as well, so this is all that I have known until I started to research home education.
(This post may contain affiliate links which provide a means to fund this site Holistic Homeschooler at no additional cost to you. For more information please read disclosure policy.)
Home education is much different than conventional school, wouldn’t you say? In fact, it is a common phrase among homeschooling families; “Homeschool isn’t school at home, it is home school.”
The amazing thing about a intimate family setting for your child’s education is that it can be customized and tailored to meet everyone’s needs.
That realization is what brought me to a Charlotte Mason philosophy of education and ultimately to A Gentle Feast.
- Living Books instead of dry text books
- Living Science through nature study instead of dry textbooks
- Hymn, poetry, and composer studies
- Copy work from poems, passages from living books or scripture
- Oral or written narrations instead of worksheets
- Handicrafts instead of senseless paper crafts or busywork
- Picture Study
- Reciting Poetry
- Tons of time out of doors
- Nature Walks
Doesn’t it all sound amazing?
I thought so too but with my prior school experience I wasn’t so sure I could do it.
A Gentle Feast Review
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve read Home Education by Charlotte Mason twice. I’ve been to a few Charlotte Mason conferences. I’ve researched her method for a couples years. I regularly discuss a CM philosophy with other CM homeschool moms online and in life.
Yet, I still felt as though I needed some extra guidance when it actually came to applying her methods into our homeschool.
A curriculum that is open and go, which is difficult to do with CM curriculum.
One that held my hand and walked me through it. Aside from books, a curriculum that required very little hunting and finding.
Well any concern immediately dissolved after actually getting into it. A Gentle Feast breathed life into our homeschool because it provides all that I listed above and it requires very little preparation on my part.
You wake up in the morning. You grab your coffee or a hot cup of tea then head to the couch. Your lap fills with children or maybe they are all around you.
You reach into your Morning Basket, grab your Morning Time Packet and begin to cultivate a daily ritual that brings the entire family together to share in books, beauty, and biblical truth. In A Gentle Feast our morning time includes a scripture verse and a beauty loop.
A Beauty Loop
A beauty loop includes a hymn, a picture study, composer study, fables and hero tales, poetry recitation, and poet study.
One of these items will be completed each day as you rotate through the loop and by weeks end you will be done.
For the last six weeks my oldest has been learning to recite a poem titled An Autumn Greeting. We all were introduced to Lavender’s Blue, one of many folk songs that are scheduled in A Gentle Feast.The hymn study has been All Creatures of Our God and King.
Our home atmosphere is filled with joy as all of us take turns singing Lavender’s Blue and All Creatures Of Our God and King.
One of A Gentle Feast’s Picture Study has been The Last Super. There have been a few others these last 6 weeks this is just an example of one.
(Picture Study is hyperlinked in the membership section of AGF. However, it did inspire me to take my kids to the Detroit Institute of Arts instead.)
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of may, And summer’s lease hath all too short a date; Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimm’d; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d; But thy eternal summer shall not fade, Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st; Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st: So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.” -Shakespeare
Why am I quoting Shakespeare ?
This is one of several poetry studies my six year old has been learning. Do you know how pleasantly astounding it is to have your six year old discuss Shakespeare with you and recite parts of it?
Well you will with A Gentle Feast.
Fables and Tales
In The Green Year of A Gentle Feast Aesop’s Fables have been the tales of choice. From all that we have read so far The Goose and the Golden Egg has had the most morally profound impact on my oldest. In truth, I had forgotten the blatant and sometimes dark honesty of such tales.
If you cannot recall yourself, it is a tale about a man with a goose who lays golden eggs. He grows rich by selling his eggs at the market but since the goose only lays one egg a day, it is a slowed road to wealth. He grows impatient, decides to kill the goose to get all the golden eggs in hopes of getting rich fast.
After reading it my daughter sat there shocked. “How could he kill his goose?!” She was a little upset but I really do think on some level it was a healthy way to introduce how bad people can be. It painted a picture for her, one of right and wrong. I was there to discuss what happened. I am glad her perspective was this; “He cared more about money than he did about living things. He was greedy and made the wrong choice. Now he has nothing, look where it got him.”
A significant amount of character development occurred here. Thanks to a Charlotte Mason philosophy courtesy of A Gentle Feast.
The Green Year’s Language Art Packet is phenomenal. It integrates in copy work from poems or passages that come from the scheduled read alouds.
There is a “Words to study” page with a place and prompt to draw a picture that relates to the readings. Another page for free writing and a writing prompt to get your child started. A page for dictation. Another page that focuses on phonics or grammar. Each one I’ve mentioned is a days lesson and by weeks end your child has completed a weeks work of language arts.
The history rotation by A Gentle Feast is absolutely perfect for homeschooling families. There are four years and each one is color coded. Each year of color teaches a period of historical time using living books as a resource. The green year starts in America history but does extend to British and Ancient history in higher level forms (grades).
What makes this wonderful for homeschooling families (particularly the parent(s) teaching) is that when we are teaching multiple children they will all be learning the same time period together. Depending on which form they are in they will just be using different levels of educational resources.
Julie Ross (creator of AGF) provides history and natural history selections throughout each term. We have already read a few history selections but offering Columbus by D’Aulaire and then The Encounter by Jane Yolen stands out the most so far.
I have Native American roots on my mother’s side of the family. In some ways, I believe it is this aspect of my families ethnic heritage that allows us to (as my daughter puts it) “speak nature.”
It is in our blood.
My great grandpa was more Indian than all the other relatives after him. At the end of his life he stopped speaking English. I can still hear these chants he use to sing as his time was growing near.
By providing Columbus and The Encounter, my children were able to learn both perspectives from that time in history. Reading them together provided so many opportunities for very important discussions that correlated with our own heritage.
You are given four foreign language options with A Gentle Feast, French, Spanish, German, and Latin. This was a long discussion and almost debate between my husband and I, in the end we chose to start with Spanish. A Gentle Feast begins this term in Spanish by using First 100 Hundred Words in Spanish, links are provided if you are unfamiliar with how to teach and pronounce varies sounds. I did skim through the foreign language section in the online membership section of A Gentle Feast. From what I can gather, there is a significant amount of quality foreign language resource options available to members depending on which foreign language you chose.
Form one of A Gentle Feast instructs to use 100 Gentle Lessons to teach your child how to read. It aligns to Charlotte’s method on how to gently teach children how to read. You can read a full review of a 100 Gentle lessons here: 100 Gentle Lessons Review. There is also a number of recommended easy readers from The Green Year Book List to further advance your little reader after they are taught a lesson from 100 Gentle Lessons.
Nature study, which is one of the ways Charlotte instructs to teach a living science, is included in A Gentle Feast. In the online membership section each form and term has the whole schedule and plans laid out for you. Nature study is scheduled in one time per week with a specific nature observation. It is an additional outside resource that has been well vetted. I did not purchase it as I feel this is an area that I understand well and will follow Charlotte’s methods myself. I have been working diligently to put together what I have been doing and plan to do, into an affordable nature study curriculum that is based off of Charlotte’s methods. It will be available soon.
My Honest Opinion
A Gentle Feast has been everything I hoped it would be. In fact, any minute piece of information or resource has been ready and available through the hyperlinks provided in the membership section. As far as applying a Charlotte Mason philosophy into our homeschool using A Gentle Feast? Well The Green Year Language Arts bundle came with a free 5 day introduction course which gave me exactly what I needed. If I need any hand holding, being part of the private gentle feast online community allows me to post questions where more seasoned members chime in with helpful responses, Julie always responds too. On top of that, Julie hosts a monthly live call on zoom for all members (at no extra cost) where we can discuss, clarify, or even trouble shoot.
If you absolutely need extensive one on one assistance, Julie provides private consultation for a fee. See private consultation here.
In my Charlotte Mason Style group, a member asked if you would still have the added cost of purchasing living books. The majority of curriculums have a booklist and it is up to you to gather them. Some companies offer deluxe versions and send the books with the curriculum but you still have to pay extra to receive this added feature. However, this is not the case with A Gentle Feast, you get a book list. If you are really concerned about cost you can always search on thriftbooks for discounted book purchases or use the library as much as you can.
What do you think about A Gentle Feast? Do you think it is what you have been looking for?
Click through to see more living books, nature study, and educational homeschool resources.