Tapestry of Grace and My Struggle to Make it Work

Hopefully this entry will help another family trying to work at the Rhetoric Level of Year Two using Tapestry of Grace.

I have long struggled with Tapestry of Grace and its overwhelming amount of material to cover in a short period of time, especially at the Rhetoric Level. I have written about it before on this blog but this time the subject at the forefront is not literature alone but in combination with history.

History for the most part drives our homeschool. We try to keep our history study, literature readings, writing, poetry, composer study, and artist study all together as we move along the timeline. It makes it very neat and tidy. We feel immersed in a time period. We can see the influences that writers, religious leaders, musicians, politicians, explorers, and artists all had on each other. It makes it a very rich experience as we connect one thing to another.

I think Tapestry of Grace has made the road a little less bumpy but our week is not really on auto-pilot either. It still takes a large commitment of time on my part to orchestrate the week’s shape and form and I do feel a sense of satisfaction on Fridays when we have our weekly discussion about what we each found through our reading and additional research.

Sand Verbena-Joshua Tree National Park

Then there are weeks like the last two weeks where as the coordinator of the journey, I feel totally buried beneath the sheer amount of material we are expected to cover. I know we are to pick and choose but to try to incorporate history on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean during the Age of Reason and tie it to colonial history….I am feeling inadequate to cover these subjects in a week, even with the Teacher’s Notes to do justice to this rich time period.

Most of this is all new material for me even after taking history in college. This is great stuff and really very interesting but it is the volume and speed at which we are expected to cover the weeks.

Here is the list from last week’s history overview:
Learn about the founding of Pennsylvania and Delaware. (sort of covered this in previous years so I feel okay with what we did learn)
Continue learning about Louis XIV of France and read about the reigns of James II, William and Mary, and Anne of Great Britain.
Learn about the War of the Grand Alliance, the War of the Spanish Succession, AND the Great Northern War.

This week we are to add in the great thinkers of the time: Descartes, Newton, John Locke.

This is on top of the literature assignment which was a review and overview of all the Medieval literature, Renaissance literature, and the Age of Reason literature we have covered so far this year. We had to do a lot of reading on the Loom and turning back to our previous weeks’ literature assignments to do justice to this particular assignment. It basically turned into a lecture on my part right from the Teacher’s Notes. I talked so much that my throat hurt. This is not what I want from our literature study.

First purple wildflower of the season

Time to regroup. Time to get back to a more Charlotte Mason approach with slow reading and oral and written narrations.

I hate to cut things out or abbreviate them in any way because I feel like there is a lot of substance to the selections both in history and literature. Most of the topics my boys are really getting interested in learning more about. They are also putting in extra effort and reading on their own time so that is not part of the issue this time.

So how do I manipulate the reading lists and expectations without taking the life out of Tapestry of Grace? I already shared how we are paring things down for literature and now I need to do the same for history.

The New Plan

We are going to go back to only using the Core History books because these are meaty enough to help us have lots of food for thought. I will read the first blue page of the Tapestry of Grace Teacher’s Notes (general information) with them on Monday and we will highlight the main points to keep in mind while we do our reading for the week. The boys will be going back to keeping a Commonplace Book while they read to record their thoughts and any important quotes or ideas that they come across as they read. We will be using Mind Map techniques to tie history to art and music as we work through those subjects. Their written narration piece each week will come from history, science, art, music, or literature and will be on topics that they themselves will choose. I will then step back and see what we come up with to discuss on Fridays.

For myself I will remember that we are not trying for complete coverage and/or all the “right” answers but reaching for some sort of meaningful connections as we read and discuss the week’s topics. This is the biggest change in our plans with Tapestry of Grace.

I think we are going to only tackle two more novels before the end of the school year: Don Quixote and Gulliver’s Travels. We have some poetry to cover as well: Pope, Swift, and Johnson. In theory, it should not be too bad. We have read junior versions of both novels before and we seem to be able to sift through the poetry fairly well. I can always cut it back to just the novels or the novels and one poet if we need to pare it back some.

I am confident that we can make this work if we look at the plans with flexibility and with *our* goals in mind.

I am grateful for a framework and Tapestry of Grace provides that and then some. It is the “and then some” that frustrates our family.

Stay tuned to see how it goes.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom

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