This Term’s Feast

I absolutely love Charlotte Mason’s analogy of a child being born with a mind ready and able to “digest” ideas just as his body naturally digests and is nourished by food.  Exposing children to these ideas that will nourish their minds requires laying a varied feast before them.  That’s one reason we incorporate so many subjects into our homeschool.  Each term, in addition to the more traditional school subjects (like reading and math and history and science) we feast on Shakespeare, folksongs, hymns, the works of famous artists and composers, nature study, poetry, and scripture.

Even in regards to the more traditional academic subjects, I prefer for the kids to learn by way of ideas.  For example, we have been studying the Hundred Years War lately, and I would much rather have them understand the reasons behind England’s attack on France than memorize all the names and dates of the ensuing battles.  After all, those names and dates, if severed from their stories, won’t mean much, won’t be retained, ruminated on…digested!

Charlotte Mason said an idea is “a spiritual germ endowed with vital force—with power, that is, to grow, and to produce after its kind.”  Dry, unsupported facts have a way of withering and dying without doing our brains much long-term good.  But an idea!  Now that’s a different story altogether.  Ideas grow!  They captivate us.  As we continue to think on an idea, we capture other ideas that connect to it; and those connections result in an ever-growing network.  You know how it works.  You read an article that your friend shared on Facebook, for example.  Something in it really grabs your attention and suddenly everywhere you go, everyone you talk to, you encounter something that relates to that initial idea that was planted in your head and heart.  Amazing, isn’t it?

This curricular feast is nourishing not only for the children but also for us as parents.  I can’t begin to express the joy it has brought to our family to share these “tasty” ideas together.  We dance a jig to lively folksongs, admire the works of famous artists and are tickled to recognize their pictures in public places.  We memorize poetry and scripture verses to furnish our minds and fortify our souls with truth and beauty.  We sing together.  We challenge ourselves with Plutarch and struggle through it even when it feels like we’re not only reading the life story of a famous Greek general…but it sometimes feels like we might as well be reading it in Greek!  But then we sigh relief when we realize by the third term in that we might finally be getting the hang of this.

Well, I started this post to have a snapshot of one term’s family feast and sort of got side tracked with the whole idea of…well, ideas.  So, back on track.  Over the course of the next few blog posts, I’d like to share a sampling of the “idea feast” we’re enjoying here in our household this term along with some resources I have found to help us.  Today, let’s take a peek at what our family is memorizing this term…


  • Psalm 139 (We might not make it through this entire psalm.  It’s 24 verses.  But we’ll at least make it halfway through and then finish memorizing it over the summer months if need be.  I found a free download at Noise Trade of an album by various artists from The Verses Project that is ten songs covering this psalm word for word from the English Standard Version.  I am finding it so helpful and delightful to memorize it this way as a compilation of worship songs.)
  • Poem – I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud (or Daffodils) by William Wordsworth (This is a poem I memorized in school.  It’s slowly coming back to me.  I usually copy and paste the words into a Pages document along with a picture and a sentence or two about the poets’ life and dates.  It’s nice to have an idea of when and where they lived.  I then print this sheet out and it goes into a little binder that we refer to each morning when we go through our memory work.  So far I don’t have any kind of elaborate filing system in that binder.  This is only our second year homeschooling, but as the years go by I will have to adopt some sort of memory index system for review purposes.)

Next up…SINGING!

    4 thoughts on “This Term’s Feast

    1. Yes! We’ve been working on Psalm 103—lots of hand motions and funny voices to help us remember. I love CM’s idea that memorizing allows you to think over the ideas again and again—hopefully for a lifetime.

      I am going to look into that album on the Psalms. We’ve been listening to Sandra McCracken’s album of Psalms a lot the past few months! I find it very comforting and encouraging.


      1. It really is amazing how putting in the effort to memorize a passage of scripture really makes an impact in the everyday moments of life. The other day I was folding laundry and the line from Psalm 139 kept running through my mind “Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether” and I was struck anew with how intimately my Heavenly Father knows me…and yet, still loves me and never leaves me! I pray my kids will have moments of private worship like that spurred on by the memory work we do together!

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