I had several people email me and ask why I don’t just toss out Tapestry of Grace if it is such a struggle. Actually, that is a pretty good question at this point. I have thought it over and talked it over with my husband and my boys and we have all agreed that it isn’t so much the Tapestry of Grace plans that are too much….it is my interpretation of them that is overwhelming.
What feels overwhelming to me are the parts of the schedule that don’t fit what we are wanting in our family’s overall homeschool plans…our goals. I need to keep our overall goals in mind both when I am planning and when we are discussing each week’s assignments. You know, the BIG picture.
For instance in the literature plans, the focus on intricate literary analysis is emphasized and I have been told by TOG directly that the children are expected to be hand-held through the discussion. This is tedious and way beyond what I expect to cover with my children. I am constantly weeding out the details to get to the main idea of the lessons. I feel as if I am sucking the life out of the literature and they don’t really get that much more out of it than when I just let them read and narrate.
Here is the twist….my boys don’t think the literature is too much, either in amount or in content. Friday’s literature discussion was *wonderful*. They absolutely loved the first part of Don Quixote. Where I found the language hard to get used to, they found it enjoyable. They narrated very animatedly the different episodes where Don Quixote thought the inn was a castle, how D.Q. put his armor in the water trough, when the monks were traveling with the woman and D.Q. believed that they were holding the woman against her will, the scene with fighting the windmills….and so on. So, when I step away from the analysis parts of TOG and just let them read and narrate, we have a wonderful time with the material. It appears that I am the one having the issue with TOG and I just need to resist the need to complete all aspects of the program.
We just recently made changes to our geography assignments each week. Instead of completing the suggested maps, the boys pick a place from their reading each week and do a little quick research on it to share at our Friday meetings. This week one son picked the Ural Mountains and one picked the Bering Sea. We are learning so much more this way compared to when we were trying to complete whole maps as put into the TOG plans. Following the TOG suggestions were bogging us down. The boys would rather know something interesting about one particular place than a whole lot of nothing about a lot of places. Makes sense to me…..and it goes to show that it wasn’t the TOG plans that were overwhelming us, it was the way were implementing them in our homeschool day.
History has been a beast as well from my perspective. I know that the problem is more with me than with them because I observed something interesting this week. At our Friday discussion, I actually started out with the accountability questions and the thinking questions that TOG suggested and we were getting frustrated. So my Charlotte Mason persona took over and I had them narrate what they did read this week and eventually we answered all the questions in our own way. I knew there was a lot of material this week so I had read over the teacher’s notes ahead of time so I would have a basic understanding of the material. I think at this point we are having trouble with TOG because they are trying to tie too many things together too fast. I took a few minutes to jump down to the grammar and dialectic stage assignments and realized that they are focusing more on one topic than we are in the rhetoric level. So here is what I decided….if you had covered this particular material two times before using TOG and were now in high school covering it again for the third time, it may have been a shade bit easier. Maybe.
Another aspect that was commented on from the last TOG post was the idea of substituting more living books instead of the TOG suggestions for history. For this time period, which would be HEO Year 9, we have already used two of the suggested history books in the past and we really liked them. I think one son is really drawing on his reading from those HEO books as we work our way through this year of TOG. They are making connections and if you asked them if they liked the books selected for TOG core history, I am sure they would say that the books are excellent and that they are learning a lot.
So for now, I am content with using Tapestry of Grace. It is serving us well at this point. I am, for the third time this year, over my little hurdle with it.
Also, I wanted to say for people who don’t read my blog regularly that this is our fourth year with Tapestry of Grace and our first year where both boys are working at the rhetoric level. I am also aware that year two of TOG is known for being packed with history and a lot of families divide it into two years. We don’t want to dwell in this time in history for two years because of our family’s overall plans for high school. I do believe that this will be the last year that my oldest son uses TOG and his brother will complete TOG Year One in his senior year of high school. For some reason I found it much easier to adapt Year One to fit our CM style of learning and I absolutely loved having Bible history and readings along with our regular history all lined up for the boys.
One last thing before I close this topic. I have used two years of Classic Tapestry of Grace and we will be completing two years using the Redesign this June. Although I think there are a lot of great features in the Redesign, I actually prefer the Classic versions better. I looked over the differences in literature and history for Year Three and if we were continuing with TOG, I would revert back to the Classic for Year Three. It looks as if it would be much easier to adapt to a more Charlotte Mason style, substituting in a few living books and biographies and changing the schedule for a more slow reading of books.
Our aim in homeschooling our boys is not to have them be experts in history or literature. I have been dwelling on history this week and in reality they have not known my struggles about TOG. They just keep plugging away and history and literature and geography are just a small part of their school day. So much other learning is going on at the same time……Bible study, marine biology, algebra 2, robotics, art and music appreciation, oil pastels, current events, physical education, trumpet and violin playing, nature study, and so much more. I am the one having the issue with Tapestry of Grace. 🙂
I now think I am ready to complete the last eleven weeks that we have on the books for this schoolyear using Tapestry of Grace. I wanted to share this follow up post so that other families that may be thinking about using TOG with a CM style might learn from my experiences.
Barb-Harmony Art Mom
Who once again apologizes for the long post….it helps me to type it out. 🙂
Edit to add:
I had a thought after I published this post. I know that when I am making my plans for Harmony Fine Arts that there are going to be some families that stick strictly to the assignments as I put them down. I also know that there will be families that tweak the plans to fit their family and I expect them to do that. There are also families that my plans don’t work for at all and I am okay with that as well. I realized it is the same with the TOG plans and they realize that families will adjust as they need to in order to make the plans fit their particular family.