Our family has used Tapestry of Grace as our core curriculum for the past two years. We began homeschooling using Konos; loved it but wandered a bit too much. After a couple years, we tried Sonlight; loved the books but felt micro-managed. After a couple years of that, we tried TOG. While we did benefit from the other curriculums that we used, I feel like we have finally found that curriculum that meets the whole family’s needs.
Tapestry of Grace is a great blend of unit study and classical approach to learning. History is split into 4 years beginning with creation and ending with present time. After going through the 4 years, it is repeated, but each time the kids dig deeper. Our family jumped in at Year 3, so this next year we will go through Year 1 for the first time.
The assignments and reading are divided into four stages: Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric. The grammar years are the stage of “introduction” – the “what is it?” phase. Dialectic is the stage of “connections” – the “how does it work or relate?” phase. And Rhetoric is the stage of “analysis and synthesis” – the “What does it mean?” phase. (info taken from TOG introductory notes) No matter what the stage of the children in the home, everyone is on the same year of study learning at their own levels.
The curriculum incorporates history, literature, geography, fine arts, worldview, and an excellent writing program. Science and math materials are not included, and Bible, spelling, and grammar need to be supplemented. Marcia Somerville has some excellent suggestions for these supplements. She also encourages Latin studies and vocabulary be added in the Dialectic years.
The reasons I am so satisfied with TOG are many. TOG gives me the freedom to incorporate my own teaching style while meeting my children’s different learning styles. While given “weekly assignments,” we are allowed the freedom to dig as deep as we want, or get by with the bare minimum depending on our personal schedule that week. It allows me the freedom to expand our interest in certain topics, but ensures that I am touching on the areas we may not be as interested in. We are getting exposure in all areas while working through history. It also gives exposure to the pervading thoughts of the time, and introduces us to the artists, musicians, and inventors of the day.
The writing program encompasses many different areas giving great exposure to different writing styles and genres, while ultimately preparing the student to be equipped to write an intelligent essay in preparation for the SAT and for life. My kids went from dreading writing assignments to enjoying them. They are learning which writing styles they enjoy the most, but are still being exposed to those that are not their favorite.
And let’s not forget the reasonable price. I only have to purchase four years of curriculum. That’s it. The number of students doesn’t matter. All can use it for their entire schooling at home. Our family utilizes the library and has found almost every book suggested is available through our local library and interlibrary loans. I just order the books I need online two weeks in advance, and make a once a week trip to our local branch. I’ve even been able to renew the books that we have needed for an extended period. For those that would rather purchase the books, TOG has them available on their website.
In a nutshell, the work is done for me, laid out in an easy-to-use format, while I still get to have creative freedom in our “classroom.” Love it!