Friday, March 30, 2012

Tapestry of Grace, Part Five: Your Questions Answered!

By popular demand. . . . . . or not-so-popular demand, but a few people asked, and we're going on the "contact your congressman theory".  You know, the one that says, "If x number of people bother to contact you about an issue, then 75x people actually feel the same way about that issue."

It's a word problem.   And what do homeschoolers do with word problems?

We make our children solve them.  We're sneaky that way.


This post was about TOG, not math.

Because I'm pulling my hair out about my choice of math for next year, so I'm not going to blog about it.  I have that whole "Perfect Homeschooler" image to keep up, after all.

Alrighty then.  Here are a few questions I've gathered this week, with my answers.

 Do you buy books or use the library?
This reminds me of a gag my husband likes to pull on kids, "Do you walk to school or take your lunch?"  The answer?  Both.  Here's my philosophy:

Since I have a "large" family, I buy almost all of the Rhetoric books, usually from Bookshelf Central.  I figure it's a good investment; they will be used by 3 other children, Lord willing.  After that, I buy all of the Dialectic literature books, and any Dialectic history book that's used for 3 weeks or more.  For the Grammar books, and a large bunch of Dialectic books as well, I use our library - we are blessed with a great library that has a county-wide system of lending.

I have a decent library to begin with, being a former Sonlight user and all, and try to pull in those books as much as possible.  I'm not very good at it, though.  *sheepish grin*

Are you a paper or DE user?
DE now.  Started with paper.  I didn't think I'd like it - but - I LOVE IT!!!  Especially now that I'm - ahem - advanced in my age.  I love being able to magnify my teacher's notes during discussions!

I don't actually print up much, and I thought I would.  But keep in mind, I'm not a big highlighter, so you might want to print up the notes and mark 'em up for discussion. Other than that, DE rocks!

When do your kids start Dialectic level work?
Usually after reminders, prodding, poking, and hot cocoa. . . . .

Oh, wait, wrong answer.

It depends on the kid.  For some, 5th, for others, 6th.  This year I put my 5th grader on D level  - and it was probably too early.  But honestly, I didn't feel like she was being challenged enough on the UG level, and it was easier for me to put her with her older sister and have a little modeling of higher-level work.  It's been kinda painful, but I think overall good.  A good rule of thumb is once they approach puberty, and start the very fun stage of arguing, debating, and asking why to everything - they're ready for dialectic work.

How do you determine which level your children should be on each year?
Ah, this goes along with the previous question.  Actually, I let age/grade be my guide.  My kids are academically either on par or above grade level (and I'm not bragging - or I hope I'm not! - it's just what the Lord has given to us).  So I use this as my guide:  K-2 Lower Grammar, 3-5 Upper Grammar, 6-8 Dialectic, 9-12 Rhetoric.  Except this year I didn't.  Hm.  Maybe explains why I've been so frustrated with one of the Dialectic Duo.  I should probably start reading my own blog posts.

What do you use for writing?
Yes, I am a rare bird that uses Writing Aids.  I'll be blogging about that soon, I hope.  I have this strange, negative reaction to a lot of writing programs - kind of like nails on a chalkboard.  Writing Aids doesn't make me want to pull my hair out or cringe over formulaic instruction.  It's not for everyone, though - not by a long shot.  More details to come!

What's your favorite lapbook source?
I love the kits from Lampstand Press!  They are sanity savers, especially the ones that are already printed and in a kit for you!

How do you handle weeks when other children get behind due to other commitments?
Awesome question!!!  We actually had that happen last year - my son went on a major Boy Scout trip right in the middle of the spring semester.  The nerve!  I just arranged for him to double up and catch up on his own schedule, so for a few weeks we were NOT all on the same topic.  Oh, well.  We survived. 

Sometimes at the end of the semester, I'm caught with too many week-plans and not enough time to finish.  I have been known to double up in May, and just breeze through the end of the material.  For most levels, the last week of the Year Plan is a little lighter, so it's not too hard to do.

Why is discussion so important?  Can't they just write the answers to the questions?

Ok, well, they can.  But.  Why are you homeschooling your kids?  It's not just to pull a Rumplestiltskin on them - you know, "Go take these books into your room and spin them into an education!"

The heart of homeschooling is the heart of your kid.  TOG gives you the opportunity to hear their heart, and to pour into their lives.  By discussing, you can communicate your excitement about the topic, lead them to conclusions, help them synthesize information, and wrestle with important ideas together.

Still not sure you can handle it?  Lampstand Press sells an amazing DVD called "Leading Socratic Discussions" that not only explains the process, but shows you moms having discussions with their students - both one-on-one and in a group.  (And as a side bonus, it has some great applications to parenting, not just your school work!)

Hope that helps!  Truthfully, I'm getting a cold, and my brain's a little fuzzy :)  I'm happy to answer more questions or clarify - just pop a note in the comment box!  Or if you have a better answer than mine (which you probably do!) put that in the comments as well.  I might even ask you to be a guest blogger if my cold gets worse. . . . .

Next up - probably after Easter - how I organize Tapestry.


Lea said...

Excellent post Heather, thanks. And thanks for posting about it on the WTM forum so I would know to come look. You have an excellent blog site and I will definitely be visiting it further.

I have two 6YO boys and I thought for sure I wanted to use TOG with them. We started year 1 this year and, after a few weeks, I ended up using more of SOTW than TOG. I am basically just using TOG for the book suggestions for now and using SOTW for our spine and map work. I am open to suggestions:).

Heather said...

I think that's great, Lea - and twin 6 year-olds? Wowza. That's some kind of fun!!

I love your idea of using SOTW for your spine at that age, and using TOG to add in maybe hands-on activities, and for "Mom" work in learning along with them. The Teacher's Notes are worth their weight in gold!

Thanks for commenting!

Anna said...


Thank you for these informative and amusing and well-communicated TOG posts! I have thoroughly enjoyed every word. So sorry you missed Yurii's class yesterday. He is a very good teacher, and we enjoyed his information and style. Hope today finds you better! Anna

Natalie said...

I was just referred to your blog by a friend. This is our first year homeschooling our boys (5th and 2nd). Next year we will add our daughter to the mix for (K/1). She attends Kindergarten at school now. My oldest son will also be entering the dialectic level so reading this TOG series has been very helpful to me. Thank you!