Tapestry of Grace: My Thoughts

by GfG on February 21, 2013 · 3 comments

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This is the third in a series of reviews on core curriculums I have used.  Part 1 was BiblioPlan: My Thoughts.  Part 2 was Sonlight: My Thoughts

This is our thirteenth year homeschooling.  From the beginning, I knew I wanted a core curriculum that had living books at its core.  That was non negotiable.  First of all, let me clarify what I mean by core/spine curriculum: this dictates the main “theme” of our year.  For us, this means history, reading, read aloud, and geography are all connected.

I am guiding children at every end of the education spectrum and that fact dictates a lot of my decisions.  Know that from the get go.

During our eighth year of using Sonlight, I realized I needed something different.  I started researching core curriculums that could be used for kinder-high school.  That’s when I found Tapestry of Grace.

Tapestry of Grace is a classical core curriculum.  They describe their product like this:

 An award-winning homeschool curriculum: a plan of study that helps parents provide a Christian, classical education using a guided unit study approach, with the history of the world as the core organizational theme. From Grades K–12, all students cycle through world history every four years, with all ages studying the same slice of history each week, each at their own learning level.

I used Tapestry of Grace (TOG) for three years, years one through three.  I also used their Map Aides for two of the years and bought their Writing Aides.

I loved TOG in the beginning and really tried dedicating my time to it and all that it involved.  There are more than a few blogs that can help TOG users and encourage them.  I found one and wrote emails back and forth with the mom.  I highly suggest doing this if you want to fully utilize TOG for more than one age group.

Tapestry of Grace has a lot to offer and is a very solid education.  Very.

Ok, on to my thoughts for Tapestry of Grace:

tog1

Pros for Tapestry of Grace, in my opinion:

  • Can be used for all ages/the whole family.
  • Lots of great books.
  • Many of the  books are ones that you wouldn’t normally come across.
  • There is a read aloud schedule.
  • Contains a terrific church history section. This is actually my favorite aspect.
  • The worldview books are wonderful.
  • Missionaries and church history figures are included at every level.
  • Students learn a lot about history.
  • There is a philosophy section included for high school students.  This is my second favorite aspect because it is unique.
  • The civics and government schedule is terrific.
  • The actual documents of significant periods of history are included for the rhetoric level.
  • There are Thinking and Accountability Questions for dialectic and rhetoric levels, for history.
  • You get to decide which books you want to buy.
  • The lesson plans are done by weeks, not days, so you can choose how to handle the assignments daily.
  • You can buy the digital version and print out only what you want/need.
  • Each year’s plan is divided into nine week units, so you could buy just a unit (and the books) to see if you like TOG.
  • The plans are divided into sections (primary resources and alternate or extra resources).
  • There are links on TOG’s site that provide great supplemental activities.
  • If a high schooler did all four years and everything in it, her education would be better than what a typical college offers for history, geography, and literature.  It really is amazingly full.

tog yr 3

Cons for Tapestry of Grace, in my opinion: 

  • More than a few of the books are out of print, forcing you to find the alternative lesson plans on TOG’s site.
  • Many of the books are expensive.
  • Expensive picture books are often used in the lower grammar stage for only one week.
  • Using it for only lower grammar is very expensive and the curriculum is not full enough to balance the cost.
  • It takes a bit to get your bearings with the lesson plans/binders.
  • The read aloud schedule was lame.
  • The lesson plans are done by week, so you have to decide how many pages a student (the upper elementary and dialectic students, the rhetoric students could decide themselves) needs to read each day or how to handle each assignment.
  • The Student Activity Pages are dependent on the specific literature book scheduled, not allowing for replacement books.
  • The Thinking Questions and Discussion Questions are amazing, but require lots of time for child and parent every week.
  • The depth of history information and knowledge is impressive at the upper levels (dialectic and rhetoric), but really is a lot (much like a history major).
  • The Student Activity Pages are a part of the lesson plan guides, whether you want to use them or not.
  • It is costly in general.  Yes, you get a lot with TOG (lesson plans, parent World Book information, all kinds of questions for each level, geography lessons, Student Activity Pages, philosophy information, and writing assignments), but you probably won’t use it all (or even close) even if you are teaching at only one level, so not having the option to buy just what you want is costly.
  • It is very expensive to use for all four levels.  This is due to the books TOG chooses as well as because if replace books with ones you already own or ones from the library, you lose the benefit of the Student Activity Sheets, which is a big draw.
  • Printing costs need to be factored into the purchase, if buying the digital version, and the pages are color coded.  And there are a lot of them.
  • Deciding which books to use is time consuming.
  • The non-fiction spines are dry (my older kids say that is an understatement).
  • The Parent Pages (for non-fiction reading either to the student or to provide the parent background info for teaching) are boring.  They are straight out of World Book, with no attempt at interest drawing.
  • The teacher prep time is about thirty minutes a week, if you do a lot in the summer (print out all papers and buy books).
  • The map curriculum is excessive.
  • The writing curriculum is not very teacher friendly.
  • This is not an open and go program.
  • A lot of the instructions are geared for co-op groups.
  • It is overwhelming for first time homeschoolers.

In summary:

Pros: chock full, great church history and worldview plans, original documents included, covers electives well (civics, government, and philosophy)

Cons: expensive, lots of teacher time, much of the curriculum goes unused, dependent on specific books, a lot of work and money for lower grades, big time commitment for dialectic and rhetoric (especially rhetoric) levels on both the student and teacher’s parts

Have you used Tapestry of Grace?  See you pros or cons here? 

Why I Left Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight

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