History has never been my favorite subject, but I think for the first time in my life I am learning to love history because of our new history curriculum. We haven’t needed a very structured history program until this year. For the first couple of years, reading picture books about early American history and learning the basics of Bible history were sufficient and didn’t require much planning or effort.
I spent several months looking into the different approaches to teaching history to my kids, looking for something that we could use now in early elementary grades that could also extend into high school. One of the things I value in my overall homeschool plan is consistency. With so many options available, it would be easy to try something new every year. I have made it a goal to choose things that will work for us long-term, so that we don’t miss things by jumping around and changing curriculums.
Early in my search I decided to focus on curriculum that took a chronological approach to history, typically repeating the cycle every 4 years. Sticking with textbooks or traditional graded curriculum puts me in the position of teaching several different periods of history to different children at the same time. That is way more work than I can practically keep up with! With a repeating cycle, we can all be learning about the same thing. Our family discussions will add depth to their understanding.
We chose to use Tapestry of Grace (TOG) as our history backbone, but it includes so much more —literature, writing, worldview, philosophy, and art. Though the initial investment is higher than some other curriculums, it will carry us through until graduation. I actually see the strength of this curriculum in its high school plans and resources.
I prefer flexibility in my school planning—life happens with little kids and “falling behind” just adds more stress. I was a bit concerned about how Tapestry of Grace would work for us (mainly for me!), but after a few weeks of using it and loving it, I am happy to report it can be flexible and structured at the same time.
I can’t tell you what a huge burden it has lifted from me! Over half of my school planning from now until graduation is mostly planned for me!
The author of TOG describes it as a buffet. There are many ideas and book lists for each week and grade-level, but I can pick and choose depending on what materials are available at my library, how busy our schedule is for the week, and how each child learns best. Readers can read more, and hands-on learners can do more projects. I can choose to narrow the focus or give them a broad overview of topics for the week. I can skip books with content that I think is inappropriate for younger children, or stretch one week into two if we are enjoying the week’s topics. If we miss something this time around—we’ll have the chance to cover it again in a 4 years.
My favorite thing is that I am learning to love history, which is an unexpected (but welcome) outcome! The more I understand how the events are related and how Biblical and church history fit into context, the more interesting it all becomes.
I did not study history chronologically and I think I missed many important connections among events in the world. For example, during our study of the early 1800’s this fall I learned that many of the events going on in early America in the time of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were directly related to the beginning of the French Revolution. Until now, I’m not sure I could have even placed the French Revolution in the same time period because I had studied American and European history separately.
Different approaches work for different families—every family needs to find something that works well for their teaching styles and learning styles—but Tapestry of Grace is better for our family than I had expected.
My hope is that my children will be able to connect world events and understand Biblical and church history in context in a way that I didn’t. I want them to see God’s plan (the “tapestry of grace” —if you will) displayed through all of history in a way that causes them to give all the glory to God for his faithfulness.