In my previous post I laid out the reasons that our family decided to leave Classical Conversations as our core curriculum. In this post I will explain why I find Tapestry of Grace (TOG) to be such a great fit for us at this time.
Ever since Matty was in the first or second grade I have looked at TOG online, downloaded the free samples, puzzled over whether this would work for us. The one thing that really held me back was that it seemed a bit overwhelming and I did not have a desire to take on such a hefty program all on my own. I was very much a fan of the weekly meeting that we had with CC. I did not want to separate myself from the group again (I had taken a year off from CC in Matty's 3rd grade year). One day my friend and I and were mulling over our options for the next couple of years over cups of coffee while the kids played downstairs. She gave her kids the characteristic 10-minute warning, then drew her leg up into the recliner, pulled her cup closer and said, "Let me ask you a question..." An hour later we were still sitting there. We looked up when my husband walked in from work, said hello, and kept right on talking. We talked through all our doubts and reservations about the future with CC, laid out what an ideal curriculum would look like to us, and expressed our deep desire to stick together both with each other and with others who were like-minded, and who shared the same goals in educating their kids. I told her that I had been looking at Tapestry of Grace again, and she was immediately interested, especially since another mom we knew had recently made that very move for the following school year. We ordered our curriculum and picked through it, talked through it, and chose the books and threads we preferred.
There are multiple reasons why I love this curriculum so far. First and foremost it finally satisfies my son's appetite for history! Since my son was very young, he has loved history, and has always questioned us
ad nauseum about history facts, often stretching us beyond our knowledge
and our ability to answer. For him there was no waiting for the logic
stage, but when that stage did kick in, hoo boy! It has been a challenge
to keep up with his desire for answers to the "whys." He also enjoys literature and
poetry, has a knack for writing (though he has hated the physical act of
doing so until about the end of last year), and loves looking at the
relationships between all of these things. TOG begins with history as its core. From there it brings in geography, literature, writing, church history, and government, all of which relate to the central history theme of the week. The reading selections are excellent quality, full of engaging information and include the classics all along the way. So far he has thoroughly enjoyed every selection.
While meeting his needs for history, TOG satisfies my desire for both a Charlotte Mason style of instruction with classical roots, and the logical and organized 4-year history cycle. We love the "living books" approach to learning. There is no busy-work. It all has purpose and it all relates to the history theme. Facts are learned within the schemata of history, not in isolation. Both of my kids are studying the same time period and learning about the same things on levels that are appropriate for their developmental stage.
Finally, the thematic construction of the curriculum lends itself very well to group activities and instruction. Each week in our group we do a hands-on activity, discuss the student activity pages, review the geography, discuss the history points, and reinforce any writing instruction that was assigned for the week. We divide the students into three groups of Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar and Dialectic to gear the activities in an appropriate manner.
At this point it is too early to state any drawbacks to the TOG curriculum. So far it has not revealed any of its flaws. The beauty of TOG lies in its flexibility. I can pick and choose what most appeals to us, what is more available at my library, etc. There are options within every thread. Furthermore, the simple fact that the threads are spelled out as they are pushes me to set the bar a little higher for my students, and they do not seem to mind reaching high to grasp it.
I have made another observation about TOG, as well, and that is its longevity. I have read on message boards and yahoo groups of people who have used this curriculum for many years. Because of the way it increases in its depth and intensity as the students progress through the years, it is systematically building on a foundation already laid in the earlier years. I hope the same is true of our experience, and that this is the last curriculum I need to buy.
I will continue to post our progress both in the weekly reports and in any other items of interest that arise along the way. Suffice it to say that for now we are very glad we chose TOG.
This video is very helpful in understanding the author's intent in writing TOG.
Link to A Change of Seasons: Part 3 (Four Years Later)