Why I LOVE Tapestry of Grace
Spring is here. For some people that means pulling shorts and flip flops out of the dark closet where they have been hiding. For some it means allergies are about to attack. For homeschoolers it means time to evaluate what has worked or not worked in their schooling and plan for next year. I know that every homeschool family has their (*ahem, strong) feelings about what is best. Here’s mine.
Tapestry of Grace is to me the most wonderful homeschool curriculum on the market. It brings our whole family together, studying the same subject at once. It incorporates history, geography, literature, art, worldview, church history, and philosophy (high school) in one neat package. The teacher’s manuals are huge! Each of the four units needed for one year needs a 2-3 inch binder. Inside that teacher’s manual is a world of information. Each unit is broken down into weekly segments. Inside each week you can find a reading list, student activity pages, suggested hands-on crafts, vocabulary word lists, teacher’s notes, fine arts lessons, and the Pageant of Philosophy( a skit to help high schoolers).
You might be saying to yourself “What’s so special about all that?” Let me tell you- everything! The readings lists for each year are hefty. I printed off next year’s list. It is four pages long! We have a lot of those books already. (whew!) I was showing Mark the list recently. His face went pale, his voice got shaky and he weakly muttered, “You mean we need all those books?!?!?” (what I was showing him was the fact that we already had a lot of them!) One of the beauties of TOG is that you have a book list, but that doesn’t mean you have to read every book on the list. They are divided into history, core (meaning the most important); history, in-depth ( for those who want to get more out of their studies than just the bare minimal facts), some weeks there is a suggested read aloud here; literature; arts and activities; worldview, and writing. You can choose to do or not do any of the suggested reading. We like to go for the whole she-bang because we are kind of nerdy. (As a matter of fact Benjamin likes to read all of his books, plus all of Samuel’s. He’d probably read Nathaniel’s too, if I let him but we need to save something for next go around!)
I love how TOG is divided into different stages, not just grades. There is Lower Grammar (K-3), Upper Grammar (3-6), Dialectic (5-8) and Rhetoric (9-12). I love how they take into consideration that some kids are more or less advanced than others and plan accordingly. Benjamin and Samuel could have both been in Lower Grammar this year, but Benjamin, being the voracious reader that he is, would have been very bored. Each stage takes into consideration maturity levels and what a child is likely to be able to handle. During our studies of the Assyrians, for example, Benjamin and Samuel learned they were mean. Nathaniel learned about some of the mean things they did. Benjamin and Samuel are not ready to hear about those things. The people who chose the books for the reading lists take everything into consideration. They even give a warning in the teacher’s manual if illustrations are scary, or if the text on a page has something bad, or nudity is pictured. (do they make any Greek or Roman books without pictures of naked statues?) So far we have not come across anything that we found objectionable, and we (maybe I should say *I*) are (am) kind of prudish.
So, now that I have talked about the mechanics of TOG, let me get to the heart of the matter. What really, really makes me all ga-ga over homeschool curriculum: their way of bringing God’s glory in everything. Every time period we have studied, every culture within that time frame is looked at through the lens of a Christian worldview. We are seeing how God raised up kingdoms and empires only to bring them crashing down for not serving Him. We are seeing how the Israelites were preserved time and time again. We are learning how God put everything in place to make the world ready to receive her Savior. We will learn later in the year how He spread His word throughout the land. Not only are my kids gaining loads of head knowledge, they are gaining heart knowledge. To some people that may not mean much, but to our family that is the more important knowledge. That is one of the main reasons we started homeschooling. Yes, we want them to be prepared to be successful adults when they are out and about in the world. We just feel that it is more important to be successful when they face the next world.