Monday, April 27, 2009

Tapestry of Grace - TOS Product Review

Tapestry of Grace is a curriculum designed along classical education philosophy that is multi-level, literature-based, cyclical on a four-year rotation, and inclusive of many subjects including history, fine arts, writing, philosophy, Bible, literature, and more.

Our family had heard the "buzz" about Tapestry of Grace for several years before we chose to use it in our home. To be honest, it overwhelmed me when I saw the giant notebook with lists of books and activities, and knowing myself, I thought, "I'd beat myself up if I couldn't do it all."

What changed our minds was when we visited friends who have four boys similar in ages to our gang, and when I, as mom, could get hands-on and see it in action. In the end, it is what we chose as our core, adding in Science, Math, language (Grammar or Latin or, soon, Spanish), and the occasional "extra."

Classical education is based on several concepts, but a core idea is that there are four main learning/developmental levels that children progress through, and Tapestry of Grace is designed to cycle through history, ideally four times, each time going deeper and adding age-appropriate literature. It includes book lists of both "spine" or "core" reading, as well as suggested supplementary reading, that can be purchased or checked out from the library (or borrowed from friends - in our case we've found several like-minded families who use Tapestry, and often borrow or lend as schedules allow). Some of the books are recommended as read-alouds, and others include hands-on activities. The idea is that the teaching parent will pick and choose as they feel able/appropriate for their home and students.

Tapestry also includes a writing component (purchased individually) which assigns grade-appropriate projects tied to the current period of study. It is in-depth and well-rounded, incorporating vital aspects of good writing with review. There are teacher sections which actually review all the information children are expected to glean, discussion ideas and questions, co-op activity ideas, and more. One can also purchase lapbooks, "Pop Quizzes," which are discussion questions for dads (or working parents), and evaluations, for each year-plan.

My only struggle with Tapestry has been the cost (the year-plan without any extra books and products is $170 for digital or $290 for digital and printed), and the sometimes-confusing aspect (for me) in ordering. Recently the company has gone to offering their year-plans as digital products, which some find a huge benefit. I can see the blessing in having a digital copy, but taking the cost into consideration and being a person who needs to "hold it," I will personally probably end up having my products printed and paying even more. That said, I look at this curriculum as rich in knowledge and activity, and ripe with Christ-centered application, and have viewed the expense as an investment into the future faith-life and education of all five of our arrows.
When encouraging any fellow mom in curriculum choice, I always say, "look at the other moms around you who are using it. Are they "like you" in teaching style? Are their families anything like yours in schedule, priorities, and dynamic?" In our case, the families we saw using Tapestry either were similar in style, or were pursuing the passion and activities we wanted to include in our homeschool lifestyle.

Worth mentioning, also, is the fact that you can go to the Tapestry of Grace website and order a three week trial of the curriculum to try for yourself!

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