“We spread an abundant and delicate feast in the programs and each small guest assimilates what he can.” (Charlotte Mason)
When talking about home education, homeschoolers with a Charlotte Mason leaning often use the term “spreading the feast”. We read poetry and beautiful stories. We study art and listen to wonderful music. We read living history books and biographies and work on handcrafts.
It’s a feast of literature and a feast of ideas designed to nourish the heart and nurture the imagination.
In our home, this soul nourishment often goes hand-in-hand with physical nourishment. Every Monday, we gather at the table for our first Morning Time of the week. The centrepiece? Our teapot and a delectable assortment of snacks.
On Mondays in particular, we eat. We have plates of fruit and cheese and crackers. We have carrots or cucumber. We have cookies or muffins. There is something for everyone, the only condition being that sweets are limited and everyone has to have at least one healthy food item on their plate.
Food gathers us. It draws us to the table, into communion with one another. It’s a beautiful way to start the week.
Moreso, I believe that the physical feast enables my little learners to more fully participate in the spiritual and ideological feast. Research shows that children are much more likely to listen to and absorb new ideas when their tummies are full.
Even the act of eating itself is beneficial. I’ve heard several people over the years say that children listen better when they have something to do with their hands. In The Read-Aloud Family, Sarah MacKenzie talks about how she has a specific shelf filled with quiet activities to engage her children while she reads to them. I love this. However, rather than activities, my children sip tea and eat like hobbits.
Some of our favourite Morning Time foods include:
- individual yogurt cups
- apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon
- fresh berries, melon or other fruit
- boiled or scrambled eggs
- rarely, sausages or bacon
- toaster waffles
- porridge or cereal with milk
- cucumber slices, carrot sticks or other vegetables
- hummus or vegetable dip
- pumpernickel bread and spinach dip
- cookies, muffins, banana bread, scones or other baked goods
- an assortment of crackers and cheese
- rolled up slices of deli meat
It’s quite a wide variety and usually only two or three at once. What’s on the table depends on what we have on hand in the pantry or fridge, but pretty much anything that can pass for a finger food is fair game.
And pretty much any finger food, when arranged on a platter, becomes beautiful. This, too, is important. The beauty of the food, not only the flavour, entices little ones to the table. It only takes a few minutes to put crudites, fresh fruit or cookies on a plate, but when you place two or three little plates of finger foods on the table, it looks like a feast. Even my late riser will come willingly to the table when there’s a beautiful spread of delicious food.
Thus, the stage is set for a feast of delicious ideas. As little ones munch and crunch on their food, they listen to beautiful literature and discuss beautiful ideas. This, in my opinion, is the most important part of home education.
We nourish the body and we nourish the soul.