31Oct

Tapestry of Grace in the House of Vitafam

Per several reader’s request, here’s more info on Tapestry of Grace (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, go here and click on the link in the lower right that says “Map of the Humanities.” That’s the best explanation.):

Andrew and I have had our eye on Tapestry for a ridiculous number of years, considering how young our kids are.  I read about it on Granny’s blog when the twins were still babies and have been intrigued by it ever since.  It appealed to us on so many levels.  It was a mix of Classical style learning and Charlotte Mason “living books.”‘  It allowed for all the children in the family to study the same thing at their individual grade level, which made prep-work easier for me and set us up for “whole family learning.”

Most people’s complaint about Tapestry is that it is so overwhelming out of the package.  I had several years to eyeball it, dance around it, play with it, compare it to other curriculum (curricula? curriculums?), and learn about it.  For those of you who are looking to pick a curriculum for August, this may not be possible (unless you jump in next week, which you should).  But it might be worth postponing your school year an extra month or so for you to get a good handle on it.*

Despite folks claiming to be overwhelmed, I liked Tapestry precisely FOR it’s organization.  The makers of Tapestry have done a great job of providing online training and support for learning their curriculum.  Marcia Somerville, the mother who wrote the curriculum out of sheer exasperation with keeping up with all of her children at once, is excellent at explaining why she chose to organize things the way she did and then encourages mothers to use it how best suits their families.  I love that she believes in her curriculum, but also wants people to use it flexibly, any way that works for them.

Once I sorted out which parts of it were pertinent to me, I have had no trouble turning exactly to what I needed at any given moment.  I can identify our goals for the week, any projects ahead, and any books I need to preview with a glance at the Threads page.  I know which column my kids are in (LG) and I only read that column.  I don’t stress about what they could be doing if they were in fifth grade.  That part isn’t for me right now.

I do read the Teacher’s Notes, partly because I’m a geek who loves history, but mostly because this helps me teach them.  I don’t sit down with my notes and give a lecture.  Instead, I read the notes ahead of time and then as we read books or do projects, I can subtly point out the connections and ideas that I want them to learn based on my reading.  This means that I’m “stealth teaching” without my kids’ knowledge.  Sneaky, isn’t it?  (Andrew also tries to read the notes so he has an idea of how to quiz the kids and talk to them during the week.  He’ll prep some Bible study that coincides.  See?  Learning together as a family…)

Finally, I view Tapestry not just as a “history program” but as the Context for which we study everything else.  The curriculum includes our geography, our Bible (this is mostly for Year 1, in later Years it will be church history), our literature, and I can include their Writing Aids with it as well.  This means that we’re reading, writing, and mapping all about the same subject.  Because of this, the kids have far exceeded my expectations for these first few weeks in terms of the facts they are retaining and the ideas they are putting together.  We’ve got little light bulbs going off all over the place and I LOVE IT.

If you still feel overwhelmed by Tapestry, remember to look at it as a “buffet.”  Nobody can do it all.  Nobody should do it all.  I love that there are three or four projects for me to pick from so that if one is just too messy for my anti-craft self, I don’t even give it to the kids as an option.  That’s my prerogative as the mommy and the teacher.  Don’t judge me. :-)

Which brings me to one more extraneous point:  part of the beauty of Tapestry is that it encourages independent work in kids, even as it fosters the idea of Family Learning Together.   They’re learning to take responsibility for their own assignments and how to keep up with their stuff.  (Mothers of Boys, can I get an Amen?)  I can give the boys choices about their projects (but only if I want to.)  They can follow the paths that interest them, but we’re all still studying the same thing.  For someone with twins, this is especially useful.  It encourages me to let them be themselves, which is hard for me to remember when I want to keep life simple for myself.

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And I think that’s what I love the best:  Tapestry allows me to give my children so many great things, but still keep things simple.  It’s Simply Complex, which is a lot like life, no?

(My apologies in advance for that attempt at being Yenta.  We’re studying Jewish history next week and apparently it got under my skin.)

Next week, I’ll tackle what our schedule looks like and how we made Tapestry work in the House of Vitafam.

*When they say to start out with the Loom info that comes with the curriculum before you do any planning, they aren’t kidding.  Reading the Loom opened my eyes to how it all went together, what a typical week would look like, and how to get started making it work for us.  Do. Not. Skip. This.

*By a fluke, somebody gave me credit for a Tapestry purchase they made and I became an “affiliate.”  Therefore, an affiliate link is contained in this post.  I’m happy to lead others down this crazy path with me, apparently.

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Comments

  1. OK, I am very impressed! First of all with anyone that can homeschool. You have obviously done a wonderful job with your children and researched the best way for you to go about giving them the best education possible.

  2. Rébecca says:

    It sounds wonderful ! I can’t wait to read about your schedule.

  3. Amen. I went upstairs and took a shower yesterday during the boys’ science experiment. With baking soda, vinegar and balloons. We’re all still here. They performed the experiment. Cleaned it up. Hallelu. And actually learned something. Can I get an Amen?

  4. jen in al says:

    Amen, Elle! LL, this sounds wonderful! So exciting to see your little people loving learning so much! And it is nice that Mommy and Daddy are getting some fun out of it to! one of the millions of reasons i love home education-all of us learning together! blessings, jen in al

  5. judy kay kyker says:

    I was just about to give a detailed explanation of ToG to an interested friend when I found this post. I sent her here instead. : ) You said everything that I was going to say!
    We’re about to start Year 3 and one thing that we’re going to splurge on this year is the Pop Quiz cd’s. It’s basically a 15 minute overview of each week’s theme for Dad to listen to so that he can lead relevant conversations over dinner.
    We figure that does a lot of things. It keeps him in the loop, can help him determine further areas of study (like Bible), AND it engages all of the little people (we have 5, too!) at the table so that they might actually sit in their chairs at dinner time and perfect (attempt?) those table manners. We’re pretty excited about adding that in this year!

  6. I get all starry-eyed when I hear the name Charlotte Mason! SO, maybe this ToG stuff isn’t so bad after all. ;)

  7. Got any indispensable iPhone apps that help you with homeschooling? I have a new iPod Touch and keep staring at it, trying to discover how to unleash its power in simplifying my homeschooling.

    Love your blog. I have two six year olds, a 4yo, a 20mo and am due in December, so your blog makes me feel *right at home* and reminds me I’m not crazy. Not *really* anyway. :) :) :)

  8. I love Tapestry and I’ve used it for many years with little ones. I think it’s terrific at all the levels! In fact, if you happen to have Year 1 Redesign, the first picture in it of a little buzz cut blonde boy in a striped shirt holding his salt map is my own sweet boy… now 14 and 6′1″… but those were the days. :-)

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