Off to a Great Start!

For the past several years we’ve attempted studying a Classical curriculum called Tapestry of Grace. Regretfully, this very rich and thorough material has been little more than a reading list for our family. Good intentions are there, but I simply don’t have time to engage my high schoolers in Socratic discussions in literature, history and philosophy and simultaneously teach my younger children to read, spell and perform basic math operations. Thus, we’ve read some Tapestry recommended books while many books, those that demand explanation and discussion, have collected dust on my overflowing bookshelves.

Last year I knew something had to change with our homeschooling. Four out of six of my children had moved beyond the early years where I felt comfortable “sticking with the basics” and “dropping the extras.” The problem was, they simply lacked the motivation to study the more difficult subjects. Don’t get me wrong. My children are excellent students, but tackling high-school-level courses was just plain hard for them. No longer did my bragging on them to dad and grandma provide extrinsic motivation and the intrinsic motivation for Algebra and Literature Analysis just wasn’t there.

In our small town, we do have a high school learning co-op that is excellent. However, I could not justify spending two days a week driving around town during school hours for two children. While my high schoolers would benefit for sure, the other four would be stuck in the van. Not good.

So, my husband I began praying. Should we put our three grade-school/jr. high – aged children at our local Classical private school so I could have more time for my older children? Should we investigate the many online high-school options? Could we possibly find ways to help our older children “own” their education and become intrinsically motivated, even with those harder courses? None of these options were bad ones, but the expense of private school or multiple online classes seemed prohibitive. My high schoolers love home schooling but they admitted that they struggled to memorize vocabulary and study history when their musical instruments, hobbies or even their little sister continually called their name.

Over several months, the Lord put together a new adventure for our family. Several friends of mine were experiencing the same homeschooling frustrations. Out of that, a new idea was born… a Tapestry of Grace co-op! Two of my friends had used the curriculum with more success than I, but they both agreed discussing the material in a group would be extremely beneficial. For me, having ALL my children engaged in age-appropriate classes was important. So, this year, once a week, all of our children head to our church for a 5-hour co-op. Esther loves her new preschool classes. Sarah is delighted to not only discuss history and literature, but to have art, science and Latin. My twins are dialectics (junior high) and they now have motivation to finish the history and literature selections as well as memorize their Geography. After all, they will discuss everything in class! Anna and Christina are writing essays and participating in excellent Socratic discussions. Knowing they must come prepared on Mondays is making a huge difference!

The other day, I found this on our coffee table in the den:

I consider pyramid sketchings during free time a good thing 🙂 And there is more…

Last weekend,I requested the children watch an ancient history documentary during our family movie time. Yes, they groaned. But… after turning it off because it was getting late, Nathan requested to wake up early so he could finish it 🙂

Our geography teachers have been using wipe on/wipe off maps of ancient Africa. My non-geography (in the past) girls asked if it would be too expensive for me to purchase a set of these maps so they can practice at home. (I said yes, of course!)

Bethany met two friends at the library today so she could work on a bonus history assignment.

The only down side so far is that my natural self is a bit lazy. With all this accountability comes work at home. Yes, we are having to get up a little earlier so we can get this work done! However, this is exactly the change I felt was needed last year.

I am excited about this new learning adventure with some very special people. There is much, much to learn, and we’re off to a great start!

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4 Responses to “Off to a Great Start!”

  1. heather Says:

    Tina, I echo your sentiments exactly! We have gotten so much done already this year, and I too feel it’s just what my older student needs for accountability. My younger students are very eager to tell EVERYONE what they have learned thus far. Thank you for your commitment to making this happen! I am soooo excited about this year!

  2. Tina Says:

    Me too, Heather! And thank you for all you’ve done! So excited 🙂

  3. JoAnn Says:

    Thanks for this post. This is motivation for me to either get a co-op going in my area, or take one day a week to work on the “extras fun activities” that TOG has to offer. I began Year 1 last year, got overwhelmed and frustrated but am determined to make it work this year by taking time out for the fun stuff even if it means having a longer school year. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Tina Says:

    JoAnn, Thanks for stopping by. Blessings on your school year! If you ever want to contact me about starting a co-op, feel free. I truly feel our ToG group is an answer to prayer. It has been quite a bit of work to get it going, but I’m amazed at all the children have done in just 4 weeks. Many hands make work light 🙂

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