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Pros and Cons of Tapastry of Grace?


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I have a 4 year old and a 9 year old. We are considering getting the Primer and the Modern history ones. I am still trying to figure out what we need with both. I should also add that we hope to add another person to our family so we will have children (potentially, we are fostering to adopt) 4+ years apart so this could work well with classical education in general. 

 

So let me hear it. What are the pros and cons to this program?

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We tried ToG waaaay back at the near beginning of our journey. I never was able to pull myself out of the ToG Fog though, so I can't really comment too much on what it does right.

 

So, cons...

 

It's very expensive. Unnecessarily so. And, they guard their copyright so tightly, that it's made the program difficult to use. (This was a few years ago, I have no idea if they've improved). Their software made it very difficult to print, and it messed up some settings on my wireless printer.

 

Don't get me wrong, I understand the copyright issues. But, to me, it felt TOO jealously guarded. Especially given the price that charge.

 

 

That said, the program is overwhelmingly large. I know you can pick and choose, but for me, it was too much.

 

I feel like the program is better suited for later elementary and older.

 

In fact, I had planned on returning to it when my kids reached Middle school but now that we're on the cusp of that, I've decided we probably won't.

 

I know that ToG is highly regarded amongst its users but, I've gotta be honest, I find it overrated.

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I have used it with all my kids, and I'm still using it with my younger kids. I really like having everyone in one history period. That's my number one pro for it. It really helps larger families. I like that when purchasing or borrowing books, I can look at all the offerings for each age group and pick one in the middle for everyone, or the hardest one as a read aloud, and condense our studies a bit. I felt using TOG really contributed to us having a family culture, since it's so communal. So we can do unit celebrations, read similar books, talk about stories each kid read at his own level, etc. Dinner table discussions and debates abound. Right now it's about Colombus and colonization, and each kid has read different texts, and we compare and contrast the bias in each. 

 

My oldest DD, now in public high school, feels she got a great grounding in history and bible. It really is solid on that. I don't really like the writing stuff, and I don't use it. It's not detailed enough instruction for me, and I had to drop their writing and use Susan Wise Bauer's books instead (WWE/WWS and FLL). 

 

I think it's pretty expensive, given that for me it's mostly a bible/history/lit curriculum, and I have to add math, science, grammar, writing, language, and other subjects. But I have so many kids that it's worth it for me, and I absolutely love using it. 

 

I find that once you get the hang of it, planning is pretty easy. It can get expensive if you don't have a good library system. 

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One other note- sometimes TOG can (IMO) add a bit more of their own political slant to the information presented. I am okay with this- I read the teachers notes and elide or change anything I disagree with, or I present the information as written to older kids, present my own opinions, and we discuss. But if you're not paying attention it could sneak in. 

 

FWIW, TOG has been a huge help to my own education. Before I started using it, I knew virtually nothing about history, and now I think I'm pretty well educated! 

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I have used it from the beginning starting in K and still love it now that we are approaching 5th grade.  It can be overwhelming at first without a doubt but I used it mainly as an idea book when I first got it.  I pulled books from the library that matched the reading list and did some of the activities.  Pretty simple.  Now that my first kiddo is older, we are using the program more fully.  I love the discussions.  I am not that well versed in history myself so TOG is great for me in that it has in depth teacher's notes and great discussion outlines.  

 

Like the poster above, I don't use the writing component.  I do like to pull some of the writing ideas out now and again but I don't use it as a whole.  I love the Bible/Church history threads.  Most everything we've read in the history threads has been great as has the literature.  I love that I can add more when we have more time and scale back in busier weeks and focus just on the reading.  And I totally agree that it creates a family culture, everyone learning and discussing the same topics.  

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Personally, I wouldn't waste the money on the Primer, if it's the four year old and future children you're buying it for. Try out the moderns with the 9 year old, throw in a couple of related picture books for the four year old and save your $$ for future years if you decide you like it. That way if you don't, you aren't stuck with two full years worth of TOG products that are very pricey. 

:iagree: If you are already buying for the 9 year old, I'd bypass Primer too and just do Lower Grammar lite with your 4 year old.  

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We are on our 7th year of TOG.

Pros:  We were using Sonlight, which I loved, but I was trying to coordinate my own curric to include activities and have the youngers ones do the same thing.  This way we were all doing the same thing.

 

We love our Tapestry Group.  The discussion scripts are great and contain mini-reports which can help the kids learn to do presentations.  One of the main reasons I looked at TOG was the discussions and they have really paid off.  My oldest got great feedback from an honors interview he went to a couple of weeks ago where they had to discuss a selection from Augustine's City of God.

 

I like that you can schedule it and cut things (there are 2 levels of choices core and in-depth).

 

I like how US and World are woven together.  I love, love, love year one and how Bible is integrated.

 

For the most part I like the D and R history readings (although some of the R are a bit dense).

 

Con:

I think the book choices for the grammar levels are often very dry and boring for that age group.  There are some gems, though. I have mostly used SOTW with my younger kids and thrown in good picture books (from Sonlight and TOG lists) to go along.  We do better with the grammar stage if I take the plans as a light suggestion (and actually I think that's the TOG recommendation as they want you to focus on reading skills and math).

 

I am not fond of the literature for rhetoric.  I think it's a bit heavy and difficult for the early high school years (and I say this as a mother of a son who is in his second AP English class now and got a 5 last year.  He did about half the scheduled lit for ninth and tenth.  His sister, who I also plan to have in AP English classes,  is using a different resource which I find more approachable).

 

Some years I use the writing, some years I don't.  I think always doing your writing around your history is a bit much and doesn't appeal to all my kids or writing students.

 

My favorite years to teach are Year 1 and Year 4.  This is odd because I was an American history major focused on colonial days.  In order to have the history and lit line up they have one year for the 1800s and one year for the 1900-present to take advantage of all the great lit then.  However, Year 2 which by subject I should love, feels like a rush.  Of course, I should probably compare it to a one year World History and then it would feel leisurely.  Don't get me wrong, it is a great year, just really, really full.

 

 

I do like TOG and am glad we switched bc I love the discussions and I also love that everyone is coordinated.  I'm not 100% sure I would ever counsel someone with 2 closely spaced kids to switch from a curriculum they loved to do it (unless they wanted to join a TOG group).  It is wonderful for a larger family (or one with a bigger spacing) because it cuts down on the "moving pieces" (co-ordinating multiple currics).  And you have great family moments like building a Tabernacle and any Unit Celebrations you do.

 

Ok, I've rambled enough.  One more thing--do what the pp said and just add in books for your four year old. There are activities in the regular program (and activity book recommendations that would work). The primer if for kids who are the oldest in the family.

 

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Interesting about primer. I wouldn't have thought to just add easier books to what my older son is doing. That would make things much much easier on us as a whole. I guess when we get the program (we were going to go DE... as this is a format we like), I will have to see what younger grammar is doing and go from there. 

 

This has been informative. Thank you everyone! 

 

ETA What things should I get when starting out at year 4? What extras have people found are worth it? Do the lapbooks weave nicely?

Edited by 3 ladybugs
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Interesting about primer. I wouldn't have thought to just add easier books to what my older son is doing. That would make things much much easier on us as a whole. I guess when we get the program (we were going to go DE... as this is a format we like), I will have to see what younger grammar is doing and go from there. 

 

This has been informative. Thank you everyone! 

 

ETA What things should I get when starting out at year 4? What extras have people found are worth it? Do the lapbooks weave nicely?

 

Geography is important to me so I have the maps aids for all 4 years.  It saves me a lot of time from hunting down the map that coordinates with that weeks teaching.  I have evaluations for 2 of the years  in upper grammar as I was playing around with some different outputs for my oldest.  I like them but they are not at all necessary.  You may have kiddos who don't need that level of output.  I've never done the lapbooks from TOG.  I have done some lapbooks on my own and matched them up to what we are learning.  I found some for free or cheap on pinterest that met our needs.  Neither of my boys (who are the only ones doing TOG yet) are lapbook kids so we will see if I get them later for my girls.  I also have pop quiz for the first time this year that I bought used and I haven't put it in the cd player yet!  :blushing:

 

By the way (you may have already seen this), there are 2 trial downloads for 3 full weeks with all the add ons that you can get for free to explore TOG more fully.  It might be worth downloading both trials (so 6 weeks total) and seeing how everything works and what you might want.  There is absolutely no harm in just getting the main curriculum and adding as you go and your needs expand.  

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We used TOG many years ago.  I think it's a bit much for children before the jr. high years. Back in ye olden days TOG looked vibrant next to Biblioplan and TRISMS, but there are so many other choices out there for coordinated four year plans.

 

It didn't work for me for these reasons:

1. Too much material for a reasonable amount of time on history (compared to time we needed to spend math, science, and other things)

2. Books went out of print, and upgrading between children added expenses--I liked the classic version better (like early 2000s)

3. Grammar and writing programs are weak

4. SOTW is a better fit for the younger years

5. Rigid and narrow protestant viewpoint

6. Too much weekly prep time for me to organize stuff for the children

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I think it would totally shine in the highschool years with a group doing it together.  Coming from a highschool group using other materials right now and moms taking turns leading our weekly discussion, I can tell you that TOG would likely solve every difficulty we've faced this year.  It gives the kids questions to answer during the week (thus preparing them for their group discussions) and it gives the teacher notes and discussion outlines (thus cutting down the discussion leader's prep time enormously).  Without a group of highschool students, I think it's probably too much.  I would find a simpler way, imho.  

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One other note- sometimes TOG can (IMO) add a bit more of their own political slant to the information presented. I am okay with this- I read the teachers notes and elide or change anything I disagree with, or I present the information as written to older kids, present my own opinions, and we discuss. But if you're not paying attention it could sneak in. 

 

 

Can you give info about what slant that would be?

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We have been using TOG this year. I bought one quarter online (it was Year 2 Unit 4 - to correspond to where we were in history) as well as Year 3 used print version. I have 7th, 6th, 4th and 2nd graders. Previously we have used Sonlight or Story of the World (with activity guide for lit / further history, maps and activities. After one semester I am basically done with TOG. I do not like the middle school (dialectic) book selections at all. I found them to be unnecessarily long and/ or repetitive. The lower and upper grammar were fine, but I think the real value of the program is being able to use it over a large range of ages. The overall cost of the program seems very high for what is provided. Most of the teacher notes are take from the World Book Encyclopedia - not vastly different from reading the wikipedia for the subject covered. My hope was that we could seamlessly synch the younger and older kids with TOG, but it ended up making my oldest kid hate history (she was doing dialectic). The activities are not much different from the SOTW activities. The online version was irritating to use. Overall I have decided to go back to SOTW for history - just adapting for each age range.

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We have been using TOG this year. I bought one quarter online (it was Year 2 Unit 4 - to correspond to where we were in history) as well as Year 3 used print version. I have 7th, 6th, 4th and 2nd graders. Previously we have used Sonlight or Story of the World (with activity guide for lit / further history, maps and activities. After one semester I am basically done with TOG. I do not like the middle school (dialectic) book selections at all. I found them to be unnecessarily long and/ or repetitive. The lower and upper grammar were fine, but I think the real value of the program is being able to use it over a large range of ages. The overall cost of the program seems very high for what is provided. Most of the teacher notes are take from the World Book Encyclopedia - not vastly different from reading the wikipedia for the subject covered. My hope was that we could seamlessly synch the younger and older kids with TOG, but it ended up making my oldest kid hate history (she was doing dialectic). The activities are not much different from the SOTW activities. The online version was irritating to use. Overall I have decided to go back to SOTW for history - just adapting for each age range.

 

I agree with this as well.  However, imo, the beauty of the teacher notes is not the part quoted from the World Book Encyclopedia, but the rhetoric/dialectic discussion outlines.  Again imo, in theory it sounds great to study the same topic across a wide range of ages, but what the rhetoric level is doing is so (needfully!) different from the youngers that it's not like they're really together.  They could potentially be "together" for the beginning of the week overview, any end of unit celebrations (especially if you were doing those with a group), any side field trips you decided to schedule, perhaps side conversations about what they're studying.  But their readings and work will feel like completely different animals.    

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I'm not exactly sure how to explain this, but I'll do my best. We have gone back and forth with TOG. In the end, for us there is nothing else that compares with its spiritual world view. There are a lot of options that teach history, but what makes TOG valuable for us is that it is presented through a Godly view. An example off the top of my head is when King Saul is covered, it doesn't just explain what happened, the notes talk about why he turned so wicked. There are definitely options that are more simple, but the depth of TOG is worth the extra effort here.

Edited by homeschoolwarrior
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