Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tapestry of Grace, Part One: How it Works for Us

In this long, long homeschooling journey I'm on. . . . 14 years down, another 11 to go. . . .I have seen a lot of curricula come and go.  (Mostly Latin.  And mostly because . . . . . oh, wait.  That's another post.)

Happily, there is one curriculum that has been a part of our journey for 5 years now:  Tapestry of Grace.

For the uninitiated (and yes, this is lifted right off their website!):  "An award-winning homeschool curriculum: a plan of study that helps parents provide a Christian, classical education using a guided unit study approach, with the history of the world as the core organizational theme. From Grades K–12, all students cycle through world history every four years, with all ages studying the same slice of history each week, each at their own learning level. Detailed lesson plans and discussion outlines enable parents to be their children’s primary teachers and mentors and shape their students’ biblical worldviews."  (Thanks, Lampstand. . you say it better than I can!)

For the initiated, who wonder "How In the World I Do It":  Tapestry of Grace is a comprehensive curriculum that I can use with my crazy, insane life.  It provides unity for our family, a great education for our kids, and the opportunity for me to sit, interact, and think deeply with my older kids while not neglecting the "fun quotient" of my littles.

This post is mainly for my homeschooling mama friends out there. . . just to provide a sneak peek at the nuts-and-bolt of "How I Make Tapestry Work" for our family.

Before I start, though, there are two things you should know about me.

First:  I have 4 kids at home:  10th grade (Rhetoric); 7th grade (Dialectic); 5th grade (Dialectic/Upper Grammar); and 1st grade (Lower Grammar).  That means that I'm planning out all 4 of the learning levels that TOG offers.

Second:  Our family is in a hard season right now, and I work out of the home 2 mornings and 4 afternoons a week.  So my time to really "work" TOG is limited, much more so than it has ever been before.  This "look" at our TOG life reflects just that.  I'm not doing half of what I'd like, and you'll see that as I write.  But Even So. . .TOG is allowing me to educate and disciple my children; for that, I am extremely thankful.

So here we go:

We run our TOG week-plans from Tuesday afternoons to Monday afternoons.  I work Tuesday and Thursday mornings, so this allows my older kids to work independently during the time I'm not available.  It gives them the weekend to catch up on their reading, if they need to.  And - honestly?  By scheduling our discussions on Monday afternoons, I have ENERGY to discuss and enjoy them.  We used to discuss on Fridays, and I was often just. too. tired. to be effective.  

Tuesday after lunch, the whole crowd gathers around the dining-room table:

At this point, they start begging for me to make hot cocoa for them to drink while we have our set-up meeting.  Today, I did not cave.  Note the ever-present glass of sweet tea next to my Mac, however! ;)

But I digress.

Each student gets a set of "pages" for the week; they get a reading list of books, an "at-a-glance" sheet of words and people and dates to know, worksheets (called "Student Activity Pages") to go along with their reading, and writing assignments.  I have each week's student pages filed and ready to go in color-coordinating folders.  ('Cause I'm kind of a geek about color-coordinating things)

They file their papers, and I read the "General Information Page" to all of them.  Yup, all of them.  This page gives them some basic, background information about what they will be learning for the week.  What does my 7-year old do during this time?  A-ha!  Glad you asked. . . .

I give her something to look for in her sheet.  A president's name, a country. . .this week, she was circling proper nouns.

After reading through the information, I go through each child's list of reading - what books, how many pages.  At first, this took FOREVER!  We move more quickly, now that they have the general idea.  Here's what my 5th grader's Resources page looks like, after she's marked her own resources:

She's marking the Upper Grammar resources for this week; note the blue boxes.

Next we go over Writing assignments, and then my 7-year old gets to pick an Activity (listed in her Student Pages - trust me, I'm too busy to think up my own activities!) for the week.

This week, she saw, "Make a Spacesuit".  Guess who's going to Home Depot for dryer venting.  Yup.  That'd be me.

For the rest of the week, this is basically how our schedule runs:

Tuesday Afternoon:  Set-up the week with Mom.  If time, younger ones start reading History with Mom.

Wednesday:  Older students work on their own, reading history assignments in books and answering questions (More details about how that works, tomorrow!)   Youngest reads more history with Mom and does a map. 

Thursday:   Older students continue independent work.  My two oldest keep timelines, and choose this day to fill in timeline dates together.   Youngest reads with Mom in the afternoon; usually, we start a lapbook together.  (More details about how that works, Thursday!)

Friday:  Older students finish their history reading, and make sure they've answered questions.  In an ideal world.  Doesn't usually happen.  We're working on that.  Activity day for the youngest!  (And there was much rejoicing. . . . .. )

Also, my oldest is taking a WONDERFUL online class from Lampstand Learning Center.  He has really enjoyed the interaction.  I've enjoyed the accountability, and having his Rhetoric level Literature studies taken off my very, very full plate.  (More details tomorrow!)

Monday:  Discussion day!  They've been preparing all week, today's the fun!  In the morning, my youngest wraps up her projects/lapbooks.  I usually have the Dialectic (Middle School) discussion right before lunch.  After lunch, the olders meet with me for History Discussions.    First, the dialectic Duo (my two girls) meet for about 45 minutes; then my Rhetoric son meets with me for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half.

Well.  There you have it.  That's a brief - a very brief - look at how our week is set up.

Tomorrow - Lord willing (Because, you know, I've learned to say that. . . .) - I'll continue the series exploring the benefits of using Tapestry with my older students.

*Sneek Peek*  THEY are the reason I love TOG!  I wouldn't trade those discussions for anything. . . 

Stay tuned!

And one last thing:  If you've read this far, feel free to leave in the comment section what you'd like to know about Tapestry!  I'd love to help!


My name is Tiffany said...

Wow! I love it. I will begin my yr 2 soon. This will be my time using TOG. I am very excited. I just purchased the DE version last week. Then my computer died, some luck I have. When there is time I want to start planning it out. Thanks for sharing.

HSLover said...

Oh Awesome... I was having second thoughts and you have made them go away! Thank you so much for this post!

Heather said...

Heh heh heh. I'm like the TOG fairy! "Poof!" All your doubts go away! :)

Anonymous said...

Ok, basic question. What kind of binder system do you use for you kids' work. I use a three ring binder, but it's so bulky on the table with many children and I like the way yours folds over. Do you just use rings? How do you punch these holes?

Amy said...

I love your idea about your 7 year old having a hunt for different items while you are reading to everyone.

Jackie in TN said...

Thanks for this wonderful post about TOG. I am new to this, and am still deciding if we will change from MFW to TOG. This will be our 2nd homeschooling year, and I am so nervous to even try something different. Thanks for sharing anything you think might be helpful!

Sandra Knutson said...

Thanks for posting this! Can't wait to hear how the rest of your year goes. I have two Littles. A 7 yo son (UG/LG) and a 5 yo daughter (LG). Wish I would have found TOG sooner! We love all the reading and how TOG combines Geography, History, Church History all together! This will be our first year using it FT. Last year we used it for the last month of school because I was so fed up with our previous curriculum.

Holly said...

Thank you for posting this!! I work full time and feel that TOG helps me to homeschool the kids even though I work full time outside the home 5 days a week (2:15 to 10:45 pm).
Thank you for letting me have a peak in your day!!

Anonymous said...

Holly, funny you say that because I need to go back to work but what you said is very encouraging.... that you work full time and feel that TOG has helped you to homeschool the kids even though you work full time outside the home 5 days a week. Mentally hearing this frees me and this is the whole reason I wanted to homeschool, to make my children mine, not another stranger's child for one year and then whatever attachments were made during the year are thrown out the window and then it starts again with a new school year.

Just knowing that I can work and homeschool and stay connected with my kids is medicine to my soul.

Thank you.

Mary Lou said...

Thank you for posting! I am really struggling with figuring out how to implement TOG YR1 UG for my only. We are on our 3rd week of YR 1 and have not gotten very far at all!