Frequently Asked Tapestry Of Grace Questions: Planning

It seems my Tapestry Of Grace post at the bottom of the blog was difficult to read…and Blogger put it into all caps, to boot! I’m going to try re-posting that material in this format, as a series of posts, to see if I can take care of the problem.

If you aren’t interested in Tapestry of Grace, or if you already read this earlier in the week, just disregard this post, LOL!

Here are the FAQ’s:

How hard is the setup for the teacher?

Hmmmm….that depends on who you ask, how much you like to plan,etc. You might want to read my post on How I Avoided the TOG Fog. People complain that the first 4 weeks are overwhelming many times. I feel like if you can prepare in advance, you can avoid that.

I do not do all the reading of the teacher notes as others do. That is about 1 1/2 hrs. per week, I would say. I haven’t had time every week, and I suffer from a poor memory. If I read the notes too far in advance I won’t remember a word!

Sometimes I have my D student read the notes to himself, sometimes I read the notes to him aloud before our discussion, and sometimes we don’t use the notes but I rely on the answers that are printed in the discussion question text (Teacher’s notes has answers for Dialectic questions in the Redesigned years….last year I used a classic plan so we did the Rhetoric discussions, as those were the only ones with answers).

I am hoping to take time to read all the notes this year, but it isn’t always realistic, as there are typically many pages of teacher notes.

That said, I didn’t have any prep work typically during the week. I did all my copying/prep before the year started.

Some people have time to do these things during the week, but not me. My school days are very full, starting at 7:30 a.m. and usually not ending until 4 pm, at which time I make dinner. We are often gone at night with 3 children playing sports. Doing this kind of planning during the summer enables me to stay fairly organized during the school year.

What if I don’t order every book TOG recommends?

No problem. TOG is to be treated as a smorgasbord. You won’t eat everything, so to speak. If you have a Dialectic or Rhetoric level student (6th grade or above), try to get the core resources (listed under history core). Try to get the spines. That will help them answer most of the discussion questions. If they still can’t answer a question, I use the teacher notes or skip that question.

If you have books that are similar on your shelves already, feel free to substitute. TOG makes many recommendations….core books, spine books, text books, alternate books, history in depth books. This is not so that you will read them all, but so that you will be able to hopefully find some of each week’s recommended resources…used, new or through your library.

I wouldn’t recommend substituting Literature books because there is only one Huckleberry Finn, for example. But on the history books, I frequently substitute because there are many great books about WW2 or the Pyramids.

Do I have to do every activity that TOG suggests?

The smorgasbord mentality applies to activities, too. No one does everything….or does it every week. Some weeks we do hands on, other weeks we don’t. We never do vocabulary, but we always do timeline and geography. Each family is different. You will choose what you want your family to do, taking some elements to do every week, some weeks letting one element or another go just for that week, etc.

We never read everything. We never do everything. We aren’t meant to. There is a lot of freedom in TOG. And there is way too much there to do it all unless you want to make each week into two or three weeks….some people take two years to do one year plan. We don’t. We do what is realistic for a week and leave the rest.

We know that we will be back to this again in 4 years time, and we can choose different books and activites next time, or repeat old favorites, sharing them with siblings who are rising in the ranks.

Is this going to break the bank? The library is not an option for me.

If the library is not an option, I recommend buying lots of your books used, if you have the time. I did that my first year of TOG when our library was not an option. We just got Inter-library loan, so I use it some now. But it is still a poor option, as it often takes months to get the books and they are always early or late. This means I have to buy most of my books.

I get what I can at our large homeschool conference, since there is always a used book sale. I keep my eye open throughout the year for good books from good authors, even if they aren’t what I need this year. I feel free to substitute good history books for the TOG recommended books when I have something else that will work on my shelf.

I spend a lot of time online, shopping for the best prices. I do buy some books from Tapestry’s Lampstand Press, but I try to get most of my books from Rainbow Resource, Amazon, and other used online stores.

I also have a subscription part of the year to Audible ($22/month gives you two audio books per month). I choose expensive audio books like GA Henty titles or books that are going to take more than 8 or 9 hours to read. I get those from my Dialectic level student on audio.

If you’ve never subscribed you might be able to get 3 months for $8 per month, with one or two audios per month at that price. Check it out. Audible is always have sales.

Since I cannot get all the books (and you wouldn’t have time to read them all anyway!) I prioritize spine books, multi-week books, Dialectic level books, and Literature books.

The Grammar level books are usually picture type books or easy chapter books that we will never read again until we do the year plan again. That is not where I spend most of my money….I choose to either substitute what I have for the history books, and purchase some of them but not all. I skip some. I look at used books sales each year to find some and buy ahead on popular Classical topics, knowing I will use those as substitutes. I start my TOG a few weeks before or after a friend and share books with her.

TOG has many categories of recommended books from which to choose. There is History Core, History In Depth, Alternate History, Text Books, Spine books….

As a former “Charlotte Masonite”, I like Living Books. I never use the text books. To save time and money, I never do the alternate books unless we don’t have the history recommended, and I only occasionally (half the time??) do “history in depth”. I am prioritizing history core/spine books, especially those which are used for multiple weeks, as well as literature books and worldview books….all else is gravy.

Sometimes I also split the difference, and choose Upper Grammar level books which I can read aloud to my Lower Grammar, Upper Grammar and Dialectic level students.

I know that this will not be my last time through TOG. All of these books are carefully labeled and put away when the year is done to save for our next time through TOG. My current Lower Grammar students will be Upper Grammar or Dialectic by then, and my preschooler will be Lower Grammar. These books will all be used again multiple times as each child goes through the 4 year cycle multiple times at different levels. Then these excellent books can be resold, or passed on to grandchildren!

One more thing about saving money. I also try to get my TOG Year plan used when I can. It is still not cheap, but perhaps you can beat the $220 sticker price and get the geography Map Aids thrown in, to boot.