I know we’ve all chased a million curriculum rainbows. We search for the pot of gold at the end containing the perfect homeschool program and yet we never seem to be able to find it…
Perhaps, you have purchased A Gentle Feast and are now living with regret?
I know someone out there is because I’ve read it recently in some Charlotte Mason Facebook groups. A few times actually.
I didn’t comment because I know it would matter very little among the 83 other different comments. However, the complaint made me feel slightly responsible so therefore I’m writing this in hopes to reach anyone who is regretting their curriculum purchase.
Why did I feel responsible?
Because something in their complaint seemed very familiar. It sounded very much like something I had written in my review article that I wrote here:
I’ve said on numerous occasions that A Gentle Feast is as open and go as you can get in a Charlotte Mason curriculum. One that really holds you by the hand.
However, the original poster didn’t necessarily agree with me once she received her curriculum set.
So do I have regret over using A Gentle Feast?
but I would like to give further explanation and some advice for anyone that is experiencing it.
(holistic Homeschooler is an affiliate of A Gentle Feast which provides a means to keep this site going at no extra cost to you. Read the disclosure policy here.)
I want to point out that I have said A Gentle Feast is open and go as you can get with a CM curriculum.
It is difficult to create an open and go curriculum with Charlotte’s philosophy because it is rather complex and is almost like a web interconnecting each subject or educational feast within another. To use A Gentle Feast, which is based purely off of Charlotte Mason’s philosophy of education, a basic understanding of her methods is nearly a must. I will say it helped me immensely to read Charlotte’s first volume, Home Education.
In fact, I’ve read it twice and do go back to particular passages to reread when I come upon something I need clarified or refreshed on.
It is nearly a must because Julie does a wonderful breakdown on what to do with each educational feast. Especially, in the new upgrades.
Here is an example:
Julie categorizes Picture or Composer Study, Poetry Recitation, Poet Study, Fables, Hero tales, Biographies, and hymn study as beauty subjects and then explains specifically and efficiently how to teach these beauty subjects.
This isn’t just done for the beauty subject but for all of the Feast.
- Language Arts (Soup & Salad)
- History (The Main course/Academic block)
- Natural History
- Play or Swedish Drill
- Foreign Language
- Tea time (the dessert)
- Read Alouds
- Nature Study
It may not be as open and go as traditional curriculum but it is as far as CM curriculum goes.
How does A Gentle Feast hold you by the hand?
On page 24 of the teacher’s manual in Whigs, Wars, and Washington (Cycle 2), Julie discuses how to schedule A Gentle Feast. She describes short leasons, varied lessons, combining for multiple children, afternoons in a Charlotte Mason Education, and the yearly schedule.
Additionally she sends you a 5 day video introduction course to really help you to familiarize yourself with A Gentle Feast.
The upgrade has it all nicely planned out for you day by day, week by week, each form and every term.
Day by day.
Every part of the educational Feast.
Week by week.
With a touch of self directed encouragement and some prompting for preparation for the next week.
If at this point you’re still needing extra help with lesson planning. Then there is a free A Gentle Feast planner available for members only. If that one doesn’t seem sufficient I have one that is available that can be tailored to several different planning styles:
Please don’t forget, Julie hosts monthly zoom meetings for members only. If you’re struggling with absolutely anything then there is even more additional help. Other members join in on this too so you get to speak to, give and get encouragement, and chat face to face with others using the same curriculum.
So my best advice if you’re new to A Gentle Feast and are having some regret?
Give It Time.
Time to get acquainted with A Gentle Feast . Time to familiarize yourself with it. To understand how it is organized and implement it. Time actually using it before you decide you don’t even like it.
It kind of reminds me of when I offer new delicious food to my daughter and she refuses without even trying it complaining that she “doesn’t like it.” Then she tries it, her face breaks out in a big smile, gushing about how much she loves it and is so thankful she tried it.
Try it first before you decide you don’t like it.
Especially if you’re switching from a different curriculum such as AO (Ambleside Online). Understand that they may have some book selections that are the same but some that are entirely different. After all, they’re different curriculums created by different people, so they will be different.
Different isn’t necessarily bad it is just different.
As Charlotte Mason home educators we tend to be a bit picky over our choice of books. I’ll be the first one to admit it, I can be a bit of a book snob. When my oldest received Disney’s version of Peter Pan as a gift, I cringed. I silently made a mental note to put it aside until we read the unabridged original version.
Here is the thing, we shouldn’t be so particular that we are unwilling to try a different curriculum simply because it uses different living books.
What if our children would like those books even though we don’t? It’s not as though they are twaddle they are still lovely living books.
The other complaint I heard was this one. A Gentle Feast is one of the few of its kind to keep your kids in the same history rotation at the same time. Which is a huge appeal to most because it simplifies things for us. Not having to track who is in what period of history just makes everything easier.
They still may have different (depending on what form/grade they are in) book selections.
Which is almost unavoidable no matter the curriculum and it just makes sense. Sure form 1 covers grades 1-3 so if any of your children are in those age ranges/grade level then they will all be covered under a form 1. They will all have the same book selections so if you have children close in age you truly can use all the same materials. However if you have kids in higher forms/grades than it just makes sense that they will have different book selections because they’re at a different levels intellectually, developmentally, and academically.
Regardless of what curriculum you choose some of the best advice I can give you is to make your curriculum work for you. The same goes if you purchased A Gentle Feast and find that there is aspects of it that you don’t relish. Not fond of some of the book selections? Switch them out for ones that you prefer. We had read a couple of the free reads already so we used Ambleside Onlines book selection as guidance for replacement. Guess what? I still enjoyed using A Gentle Feast and I’m over all very pleased with it.
The thing is you do have to try it first and give it time before you decide if you truly like it or not.
I used it all last year and already have Cycle 2 which we will be starting soon. I have no plans on switching.
Above all else, do what you think is best for your family but I truly think A Gentle Feast is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.