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Switching from SL to TOG?


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I am using TOG this year, and I used Sonlight for part of one year a few years ago...the big difference for me was the planning, TOG schedules for the week- you are then free to choose what you want to do and what days to do it on- which works better for my mind for some reason then the daily planning done for you in Sonlight. You can also train your older children to plan out their week, something TOG actually encourages. This year using it, I think the strength and really worthwhile part of TOG is the literary questions for the older students- really impressive. I also appreciate that I can use it for all 4 of my children, instead of trying to juggle 3 or 4 different cores.


they have a free week you can print out and go thru over at the TOG website, have you printed it out and gone thru it? I would encourage you to do that to see what it looks and feels like.



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Can anyone help me sort out the differences between these two programs? I have enjoyed Core 3+4 and 5 of SL, but am not happy with the lack of literary analysis and thought-provoking discussions/writing assignments for history. My dd is 12 and I'm bringing home ds 9 and ds 7 this fall.



TOG has a lot more in that area. Here is a comparison I did for a friend:


*TOG is a weekly unit study. You have a topic that all the readings, mapping, activities and such revolve around (much like WP).


SL is chronological by civilization, so it covers all the Egyptians, then backs up and cover all of Greece and backs up and covers all of Rome. You could, with SL, take out all the weekly divisions, move them by 2 days and put them all back in and it wouldn't matter.


*Schedule wise, SL is open and go. (Other than needed to flip back to the appendix to read the notes, do questions, mapping or timeline, where TOG keeps them all in one place). Where SL has reading every day and mapping, timeline and such as it happens to come up in history. In SL there is a focus on reading to the child till Core 100, which is the first core designed to be done independently. Though because Core 6 and 7 use SOTW, which is easy to read, many people start their kids working independently earlier and others continue to read Core 100 to them. You don't have to do it their way (with either SL or TOG).


TOG is a weekly schedule, it is up to you to decide how and when to do each piece. Generally with classical people do reading early in the week, then do mapping, timeline and activities and follow it up with discussion at the end of the week. I generally divide the page numbers by 4 and go ahead and do the reading 4 days a week like we did with SL. You will find a lot more TOG people have their children reading their own history as soon as they can read well (about the UG level), though not all. I am waiting till the Dialect level.


TOG has a focus on teaching the child to manage their own schedule, so to that end they provide blank schedules and encourage parent and child to sit down together and go over what should be done when each week. That way the parent can help the child evaluate what works for them, and work themselves out of a job (ideally). In keeping with that they have student sheets that overview what the child is learning that week, and explains activities and such. Right now I am using the student sheets with my oldest, but not having her do the schedule yet (one step at a time).


*SL's philosophy is one of using historical fiction to make an emotional connection to the history being studied and every level of SL has poetry, and missionary stories...well except maybe 530 British Lit, but that isn't a normal Core. Grammar is relaxed, and writing is a focus of the new LA...though I am concerned there might be a big much creative writing.


TOG's philosophy is much more to build good thinking skills. At the lower levels that will include reading historical fiction for literature, but at the Dialect and especially the Rhetoric levels the focus in on the classics and original works. TOG will cover poets as they come up in history, but you won't read a poem each week like with SL. TOG will cover missionaries as they come up in history. The book Trial and Triumph has a ton of missionary biographies. Each Literature book has a literature worksheet. At the LG and UG levels they work more on summarizing or observation. There are a few UG that require a conclusion or analysis. The D level is focused on analysis and conclusion the R I have looked at are...way above anything I ever did in even in college, but I was a math person so I didn't do anything in the way of literature.


Writing in TOG is a whole different animal. First let me say here that TOG recommends LA, but doesn't actually have a LA program. They do have 12 levels of writing. Each level works on specific skills, building bit by bit. For example year 3 teaches paragraph writing then year 4 teaches the 3 point essay, so their is a progression. The Writing Aids explain each type of writing, give hints on how to teach it, and often and example, many of the real writings from TOG students. The Writing Aids CD has talking points on the different types of writhing, which you can use to discuss it with your child or give to them to read on their own. Then it has writing aids: various diagrams to help with brainstorming, outlining, and such. Last it has what are called Rubics. Rubics give you, as the teacher, guidelines on how to grade the student's work from several different points of view. Long term I can tell I will love these, though I haven't started using them yet.


*SL teaches the Bible as a separate subject, covering one gospel every year and the whole Bible in 6 years. K-5 and 6-400. While they include additional bible texts for each year the main Bible portion is reading out of a bible, version or your choice. They do include memory verses, which TOG doesn't have.


TOG teaches the Bible as part of history. Year 1 integrates Bible, year 2 is more church history, year 3 is missionaries and world view (when china, Japan, or India is covered you cover their religious point of view as well, with a Christian text, a sister text to the SL Core 2 book Windows on the World), and year 4 continues with missionaries, world view and I am told has a Revelation study. With TOG you will probably need a separate Bible Study for at least year 2 and 3.


Let me know if there is anything I can clarify. These are, of course, my perceptions and some point may be viewed different by other people.



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Wow, Siloam, thanks! Your input is very helpful. What about prep time - how does that compare?


Do you read any books aloud?


Are you happy with the writing aspect of TOG?


Glad to help!


TOG will have more prep time hands down, especially if you use SL as an open and go program. I was always tweaking SL for one reason or another, so while TOG does have more prep it isn't that much more and I feel we are accomplishing a lot more. Mostly due to the fact that I always felt so far behind the reading schedule of SL that I let trying to, "keep up," squeeze out doing mapping, timeline, questions and writing.


Generally this is how I schedule:


-Choose books (you don't need to if you use the main resources of the redesign)

-Enter the week into Excel (something I did with SL too).

-Copy the Student Sheets into Word and make adjustments to them as needed. These are for the student to work off of, so I add and subtract according to my priorities.

-Print out maps (mapping will be on my student sheets)

-Print out Literature Worksheet

-Print out Timeline figures (I have the Homeschool in the Woods CD, so I just copy them into word). I include a bigger picture of a president if that week requires a president card.

-Print out any writing helps, sheets for her to read, organizational forms, ect..

-Make vocab cards-there is a site you can join for $25 (I think) that has these entered by other Moms where you can just print them out. I do them by hand using dictionary.com so I know them better.

-Print out anything else. Given we are in year 3 we are doing State cards, so I print off an information sheet on the state, a card for her to fill out, and an outline of the state (card provided by TOG the other two I have bookmarked sources online that I can quickly refer to).

-Read Teacher information.


At this point I don't do the discussion questions because we discuss things as I read when I feel it is necessary. As soon as my dd is reading the history on her own the questions will become key to understanding if she is grasping what she needs to learn.


During the week it takes about 30 mins to read our history and do our RA, so while I invest quite a bit of time in planning we spend less time on it daily. The girls do spend additional time doing mapping, then my oldest also does timelines, president and state cards, lapbooks and literature worksheets on her own. I have no idea how much time they spend on it because I am working on basics with the other kids at the time. It doesn't seem too long to me, and they enjoy it. If I had to guess I would say 5 mins of mapping for my 2nd grader and 30 mins of various work for my 4th grader.


Yes I still do RA's. I choose books from TOG lit, from SL, WP, ect... At this point I actually am doing an RA for History and one for Science. :rolleyes: Don't ask me how that got started, but I am stuck now. I honestly enjoy choosing my own RA's and not worrying about the schedule. We were always ahead of the SL schedule, then I had to find just the right book to fill in so I didn't start the next one too late. I really spent too much time on the whole thing.


Classical Writing is my main writing program, and TOG is supplement. If you haven't gotten the picture yet, I am pretty...anal, detailed and concrete in my thinking. :D SL writing was way too abstract for me. I have looked at the new samples, and I think it is improved, but it still didn't click for me.


SL is based on Ruth Beechick ideas and RB believes a child can learn to write well by reading good lit and then they will naturally copy what they read. That might be true. It is just too...cross your fingers hope it works...for me.


TOG has a lot more structure yet still finds value in methods such as dictation and narration, so for me it works. With TOG (with Writing Aids) there is less possibility that you will read a writing assignment then wonder how to teach it or grade it.





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Wow! Thanks for all the information on TOG Siloam!


I am considering TOG Year 1 next year for my 3 older dc (12yo,10yo,7yo). But, they'd be in three different levels D,UG,LG and I'm not quite sure how everything would flow- this is the first year I'll be folding in our 7yo into our history cycle. You said CW is your primary writing curriculum and TOG a supplement. Can I ask why you choose CW as the main one? Also, does TOG writing use the historical time period or historical literature/reading as to what the student writes about? In other words is the writing always related to the current historical time period the student is studying?


On a side note, can you tell me how you like CW? Reguardless of whether we use TOG next year or not, I may use CW for my 12 yo & 10 yo. Right now the older dc is using Wordsmith and younger is going thru' Writing Tales 2. Can you tell me IYHO, how time intensive CW is on dc & mom? Also, I want to continue using R&S for English (English 7 & English 6). Would this be too much alongside CW? I'm assuming we'd use Homer?


Thanks so much for your help!


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Also, does TOG writing use the historical time period or historical literature/reading as to what the student writes about? In other words is the writing always related to the current historical time period the student is studying?


Yes they do relate to history. At times they can even work together on a newspaper, or play even though they are different levels. The oldest just becomes the editor, unless you want that title.


For my UG and LG they read their separate literature, but I choose one or the other level to read aloud to them. The books are chosen to be readers, so if you wanted to have your 12 and 10yo work independently then do discussion with you, then you can. If you prefer to follow the SL method and read aloud then you would probably choose one book from either level (D or UG), and read the LG book to your 7yo as well...you might be able to read aloud UG for all of them then have your oldest read an addition book? That might be a good compromise. There is really no wrong or right way to do this.


On a side note, can you tell me how you like CW? Reguardless of whether we use TOG next year or not, I may use CW for my 12 yo & 10 yo. Right now the older dc is using Wordsmith and younger is going thru' Writing Tales 2. Can you tell me IYHO, how time intensive CW is on dc & mom? Also, I want to continue using R&S for English (English 7 & English 6). Would this be too much alongside CW? I'm assuming we'd use Homer?


Thanks so much for your help!



I will get back you to tomorrow on CW. :cool:




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I was committed to CW long before I found TOG. I started out very Ruth Beechick and very into natural language methods. CW allows me to continue to use those methods, but also eliminates some of the....gaps? Just some of the areas I wasn't comfortable with. It tends to spiral skills, and I want a mastery based approach, which CW is. I also prefer the imitation method of writing because I pulls the burden of being creative off the child, while still getting them to write. Now I have also decided I want outlining and diagramming. In the end I feel like CW covers all I need and I don't have to worry about missing something where with natural methods alone I felt like I was crossing my fingers and hoping it worked out.


I really can't speak to how intensive CW is because I am only on Aesop B, and I don't know anyone that found that level to be challenging. It is Homer where people begin to bail. It really doesn't worry me through. I hs year around, so that gives me the freedom to throw out their schedule and just cover what I think is a reasonable amount of work for the day.


Generally what I do is give the workbook to my dd, and have her follow the instructions, doing her writing on the computer and just a little bit of the grammar/copywork each day (instead of in blocks as they suggest). For us this works great. Then at the end of the week I check her work and we discuss any corrections/mistakes that need to be addressed, then she finishes up her final draft. The only thing that may change in the future, as it becomes more difficult, is I may go over her work daily instead of weekly.


Right now I do drop all the activities for day 2 and instead use SWR as our spelling/phonics/word study. In correlation to your R&S question I think you can do both, but I suspect you would then need to take longer if you do. If you want to stay on schedule you can probably just use R&S instead of Harvey's grammar like I use SWR instead of their word study.


I recommend you get the Homer Core book and outline it ahead of time, so you can see where you are going. From what I have been reading the people who do that understand Homer the best and are most successful, not just at doing the program, but knowing how to streamline if for their family without cutting essential skills.


All that said I have seen people drop CW in favor of TOG writing. Sometimes it just comes down to doing what works, and what gets done. For me, using both is working out nicely. Because I was more relaxed when we started CW I didn't have my dd do the outlining and she struggled with paragraphs (she likes to do the one massive paragraph thing). With TOG I started her out in level 4, thinking it would be fine because it started out working with paragraphs, but it actually quickly progresses to the 3 point essay, not working! Right now I have paused CW and I am dropping her down into level 3 of TOG which works exclusively on planning writing (outlining one's story/paper) and on paragraph writing and is a perfect fit! As soon as she gains some proficiency in these two areas I will have her start up Aesop B.


Long term I know we will do CW, but I have no clue how much TOG we will pull off.




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