Jun 182015
 

Tapestry of Grace vs Sonlight

Are you trying to decide between Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight? Both programs provide tremendous exposure to literature. In addition, they both integrate history, geography, and Bible and each is written from a Christian perspective. Here are some major items to consider in comparing Sonlight to Tapestry of Grace.

Similarities

Both Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight

  • Present history in the context of a Christian worldview
  • Use Living books. What is a Living book?
  • Include some books that are not Christian
  • Combine history, geography, Bible, and literature studies
  • Have helpful and friendly user forums and excellent customer support
  • Provide curriculum for all ages

Some of the differences between Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight are shown below:

Tapestry of Grace Sonlight
Weekly reading assignments Daily reading assignments
Requires more teacher planning Requires minimal teacher planning
Lampstand Press sells only the TOG year plans. (They don’t sell any books or any materials from other curricular areas such as math, science or grammar). Sonlight is a Complete curriculum provider and sells packages that include the literature books as well as other materials.
Classical curriculum using 4 year chronological history cycle Not classical, can be adapted for chronological history
Strong emphasis on God’s providence through history Great emphasis on missions
Includes extensive ideas for hands-on activities Doesn’t provide specific ideas for hands-on activities
Each year plan can be used for each child up to three times (between 1st grade and 12th grade), but additional books are needed for each level. Each core (year) curriculum package can be used only once per child, but can be reused with younger children
The entire program consists off 4 year-plans covering all of world history 13 different core packages (excluding 2 additional preschool cores) are available.
Entire family can use the same year plan Students close in age can be combined in one core

If you are seeking a history curriculum that integrates other subjects as both Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight do, the choice between these programs is a matter of personal preference. I have specifically NOT provided a list of pros and cons concerning these curricula, because the things that I deem to be positives, might be considered negatives by someone else. I hope this comparison aids you in your decision. Be sure to visit the above links to learn more about these curricula.

Oct 232011
 

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I enjoy reviewing homeschool curriculum. I love comparing and contrasting different resources. Most of all, I love finding products that really work for my children. In addition to curriculum, I’m also a bit obsessed with researching methods of home education. I don’t think that this obsession is a reflection of a lack of satisfaction in my own teaching methods. I am just fascinated by all the different ways that children learn and how different people have implemented different learning strategies. Plus, I am always eager to see if there’s something else I should be doing to help my children learn.

When I was given the opportunity to review Educating the WholeHearted Child (3rd edition) by Clay Clarkson (with Sally Clarkson), I was very interested because it was a book that I had heard of, but never read. I thought I knew a little bit about the book, but I was mistaken! I thought the book was a “standard” size paperback book (maybe 250 pages max) that contained ideas to help you and your children enjoy learning together. What I found was much more!

This book is huge! It is has 376 (8-1/2 X 11 sized) pages full of information. In addition to the main text, each page has a sidebar filled with extra information such as supporting scriptures, quotes, and historical details. It is impossible for me to thoroughly cover this book in this single review, both because the book is so lengthy that a thorough review would be too long, and I honestly have not had time to digest all the ideas discussed.

My very abbreviated version of the Clarkson’s basic premise is this.

The Christian home should be the center of learning for the Christian family. Learning should be a natural part of family life, and the primary goal of any Christian family should be to raise children who love and serve Christ.

The subtitle of the book is A Handbook for Christian Home Education. This is an excellent title for what you’ll find in this volume. The book is divided into 4 large sections.

  1. Home
  2. Learning
  3. Methods
  4. Living

Within these sections are details of everything from how to train your children, how to be discerning about what you allow into your home, descriptions of different homeschool methods, various personality types, and a thorough explanation of their own method of home educating.

In their home, they divided all the various “subjects” into 5 different categories. These 5 D’s  are:

  • Discipleship Studies
  • Disciplined Studies
  • Discussion Studies
  • Discovery Studies
  • Discretionary Studies

Discipleship studies are the most important and include Bible knowledge, reading, devotions, and study.

Disciplined studies are the foundation of other study and are essentially the traditional 3R’s.

Discussion studies are history, geography, and fine arts. Included in this section are various methods like narration, reading aloud, and memorization.

Discovery studies include science, nature study, and foreign language.

Discretionary studies are all the extras. They discuss leaving time for private lessons, field trips, and really knowing your children’s strengths and weaknesses.

This only scratches the surface of what all you’ll find in Educating the WholeHearted Child. It’s really the compilation of the 20+ years of experience the Clarksons have in home educating their own family and ministering to other home educators.

I really appreciate their sharing all their knowledge and experience. But I must confess that certain parts of the book left me feeling more guilty than encouraged. I in no way think that this was their intent. Actually, I believe this is the complete the opposite of their intent. I am sure that they did not do all of the things listed, all the time, with all their children. But seeing them all in black and white, I began to think I was failing my children. They did say that all families were different and that every home would not look the same, but I still left feeling that somehow we weren’t measuring up to their standard of a Christian homeschool.

I do intend to spend more time reading this book. I want to read it slowly and allow more time to think and pray about what I’ve read. I wish I had read this years ago. I think I would have felt more encouraged reading it at the start of the journey than I do now, 8 years into it.

 

Educating the WholeHearted Child (3rd edition) is published by Apologia Educational Ministries. You can purchase a copy of the book from their website for $22.

 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Educating the WholeHearted Child from Apologia to review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions expressed are my own. This post contains an affiliate link.

 

 

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Oct 122011
 

I confess.

There are days when I wonder why I am homeschooling. I look around and feel discouraged at my imperfect children.

I feel like everyone else’s children are enjoying learning and mine (especially the boys) still complain.

As I type this, I realize how ridiculous these feelings are. I know that other families struggle. Unfortunately when I’m feeling down, I’m not thinking rationally.

Look at this beautiful mess that my oldest left out yesterday.

 

The 2 books on the couch are Matthew Henry’s Commentary and the Comparative Study Bible.

He got interested in the chronology of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection and started studying it on his own. He searched through all the gospels and even looked up the words in Greek.

I need to remember this the next time I’m discouraged.

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Aug 312011
 

Academics are an important part of our homeschool. We have high standards and I make no apologies for that. But as we work hard, we try to remember 1 Corinthians 10:31:

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

God’s glory and serving God have always been the #1 priority of our homeschool and our lives.

At least that is our highest priority on paper.

I confess that it hasn’t always been my highest priority in practice. And there is a word for saying one thing and acting in a different way. It’s called hypocrite.

It’s not hard for kids to recognize. They can see it much easier than I could see it in myself.  And it’s so very dangerous.

But I am thankful that God is so gracious and merciful to me. He nudges me gently. (And sometimes not so gently.)

There were several things that I was “required” to read in the last month that God used mightily in showing me what my true priorities are.

One of them is this little book: How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids by Rachael Carman. Rachael begins the book with her own story of how she began homeschooling, and shares very openly the mistakes she made in trying to homeschool in her own power. She then begins to share 5 simple steps that will change your thinking about how your homeschool. She uses the acronym H.E.A.R.T.

H- Have a heart for the things of God
E- Enrich your marriage
A- Accept your kids
R-Release them to God
T-Teach them the Truth

I learned so much from this book. Well, learned is maybe not the right word. I have heard much of this before. I just wasn’t doing it. I was failing at the very first priority. I have to have a heart for the things of God! No wonder my kids weren’t having a heart for the things of God. I have to be a living, breathing example to them. I have to be more transparent with them. I have to demonstrate walking with God to them in a real way. I have to be faithful to Him. If I preach that to my children and fail to do it myself, I am a hypocrite!

I do not mean I have to be perfect. I also do not need to make my kids think I’m perfect. (That would be an impossible task anyway.) But I need to let them see my heart. And my heart needs to be focused on the things of God.

I have read the whole book and the other letters are just as powerful as the H. But H really spoke to me as I read the book the first time. I will be reading this again! (And in case you can’t tell, I highly recommend it to all homeschool moms.)

You can purchase this book from Apologia for $13.00.(Rachael and her husband Davis are the owners of Apologia Educational Ministries.) There is also a sample chapter available for free on the website.

 

You can read more reviews of How To Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids on the Homeschool Crew blog.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book as a member of TOS Homeschool Crew. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

 

 

 

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Aug 192011
 

We are starting Tapestry of Grace Year 3 next week! At the end of last year I did some thinking about our accomplishments for the year and one of the things we didn’t do very well was history. (That’s really an understatement. But I did have a baby, so I’m trying to be generous.) I thought about  trying a new history curriculum, but I kept coming back to TOG. I love the way it integrates history with literature, Bible/Church History, and geography. I like the hands-on activity ideas. But I really had failed to implement it well in our home last year. (Honestly, we hadn’t done so well the year before either.)

So I made a deal with myself (and my husband). Before I went looking for a different curriculum for us, I was going to give TOG one more shot. A really good shot. I was going to plan, plan, plan this summer. I was going to get EVERYTHING figured out ahead of time. I wanted to do this because it certainly had not worked as a “pick up and go” curriculum for us.

But, summer has a way of flying by. I blinked and it was August. It was time to get serious about this planning stuff. I have been working hard this week, and I am very happy to report that I have thoroughly prepared for Unit 1. Here is what I’ve done.

(I purchased the Digital Edition (DE) for the first time this year. These steps include printing the pages I desired to have printed.)

1. Read through the Year Introduction.

2. Made a spreadsheet with all the resources used in year 3. (Downloaded from the website.)

3. Highlighted all the books on the list that I already owned.

4. Went through the list again and checked the on-line library catalog highlighting all the books from the list available from the library.

5. Printed the Teaching Objective, Weekly Overview, and Reading Assignment pages for every week of the year plan.

6. Placed all of the above in sheet protectors.

7. Read through the Weekly Overview and Reading Assignment pages with Sharpie in hand, marking the books that we had or could borrow from the library.

8. Determined which resources we should buy. Marked those on the pages.

Starting here, I’ve just done the first unit.

9. Went through each week in Unit 1 and typed the reading assignments I have selected for my dialectic students. (Yes, they could just use the notebook, but I use some alternate resources, and throw in some upper grammar assignments instead of dialectic ones so it can get confusing.)

10. Cut and pasted the assignments and relevant questions (adding space to write the answers) from the student assignment pages into the same document as the reading list. Printed out copies of the list for each student.

11. Printed page 1 of the Student Assignment pages for the first 9 weeks.

12. Printed the maps for the weeks that we are using them.

13. Printed the Lower grammar literature worksheets that we are using.

Phew.

That’s where I sit. I need to decide how to store all the pre-printed papers. I don’t want to 3-hole punch the maps, so I’m not sure what I’ll end of doing with those.

That’s my Wrap-up for this week! Be sure to visit Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers for more weekly reports.

 

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Jun 072011
 

Last weekend I went to the NC Home Educators conference. While I was there, I purchased a resource that I have had my eye on for quite a while. It’s the Brain Integration Therapy Manual by Dianne Craft.

Brain ModelI listened to Dianne Craft at the Schoolhouse EXPO last fall. She talked about the 4 learning gates: Visual Processing, Visual/Motor (writing), Auditory Processing, and Attention/Focusing/Behavior. Each of these gates can be blocked, making it much harder for a child to learn. As she described the signs of each of these blocked learning gates, I sat with my mouth hanging open and almost in tears. In describing those who had these gates blocked, she was describing my 9 year old son.

But I didn’t purchase the Brain Integration Therapy book then. There were several reasons. Though the book is inexpensive compared to therapy, $58 is not what I consider inexpensive. Especially when the whole concept seemed a bit, well, odd. But I bookmarked Dianne Craft’s site and I didn’t forget about Brain Integration Therapy.

My son definitely made some progress this year. He is reading better, but I can see that his eyes are all over the page and he can’t remember sight words. He loses his place frequently. His writing has also improved, but he still struggles with making his letters the correct sizes and spacing them correctly on the page. We’ve been doing dictation this year. Once again, there has been improvement with practice but he still struggles to remember a short sentence long enough to write it down.

My husband has seen enough of these problems that he was willing to let me try the therapy. The therapy consists of 6 daily exercises and one weekly therapy session. We started last week learning the exercises. We’ve been adding in a new exercise every day. We will learn the last new exercise tomorrow and we will do our first brain training session on Friday.

So far I’m pleased. My son is basically cooperating. I’m not going to lie and say he loves it, but he’s tolerating it. One thing I have noticed is that these simple exercises are difficult for him. He has a very hard time keeping his eyes on his thumb as we move it in the pattern described in the manual. Hopefully that means that this training is going to be helpful for him!

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Apr 072011
 

I’m so glad I have a few of you interested in how I’m evaluating our homeschool!

Here are the questions I’m going to give my children:

1.       What is your favorite thing about homeschooling?

2.       What is your least favorite thing about your homeschooling experience?

3.       What is your favorite subject? Why?

4.       What is your least favorite subject? Why?

5.       Do you think you learn best by:

  1. Reading
  2. Listening to someone else read
  3. Making something
  4. Watching something

6.       What would you like to learn about in science?

7.       What would you like to learn about in history?

8. What would you like to do differently next year?

9.       What things have we been doing well?

10.     List 3 things you would like to learn how to do next year.

 

I would like to say that I expect this survey to be filled in joyfully. I will be pleasantly surprised if that happens. More likely it will be received with groans from my son and possibly tears from my daughter who doesn’t like open-ended assignments. But I’d really like to know what they think, so I’m going to give it a shot. If you want to read the results, visit Evaluating Our Homeschool.

What do you think? Have you ever tried something like this?

 

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