In my review posts on core curriculum, I promised to share why I stopped using Sonlight as well as Tapestry of Grace (I now use BiblioPlan). The cons on the reviews for each may make that pretty clear, but just in case not… here is the promised post. 😉
Remember that my top priority is that I have a curriculum I can use with the entire family. That is not a top concern for all homeschoolers. We wanted this advantage so that older kiddos could provide reinforcement to the younger kiddos at times and so that family discussions about history would apply to everyone in their current studies.
My second priority is that the curriculum reflect a Biblical worldview. Not every book has to agree with our worldview, but the discussion and focus of the curriculum must.
So… after eight years of using Sonlight what pushed me to leave? Numero uno was that it was just too difficult to use one core with a six year age spread (and it was only going to get bigger). I was spending a lot of time on Amazon, looking up books that matched the time period and core study, but for a child two to four years younger. It took a lot of time and I didn’t trust my searches. I knew there were probably other books out there that were better, but I didn’t know how to find them and really didn’t have the time to spend doing so.
The second reason was that I wanted a curriculum that addressed some Biblical discussion about history. I wanted my kiddos to see God’s sovereignty, plan, and purpose in events. I wanted appropriate Bible verses brought up. Again, I didn’t trust my own feeble mind to do this all the time.
Thirdly, I wanted more nonfiction emphasis. Sonlight is terrific at helping students get a “feel” for the time period. It is great for gaining some kind of experiential historical knowledge, but light on the the facts. I didn’t want my kids to just know what it was like during The War Between the States. I wanted them to know dates and facts too.
Lastly, I wanted us study the same time period. I couldn’t do one core with everyone, but I wasn’t interested in doing two cores at the same time either, for several reasons. One of those reasons was that we wouldn’t actually be in the same time period. If I combined Core 3/4 with Core 100, we would be about fifty years apart at times (said the SL curric specialist). That’s a significant difference.
All of those reasons forced my hand. I started doing some online research for core curriculums that an entire family could use.
During that search, I found Winter Promise, Heart of Dakota, My Father’s World, and Tapestry of Grace. While Winter Promise, Heart of Dakota, and My Father’s World covered nice age spreads, they didn’t offer curriculum that could be used from kinder to graduation. Tapestry of Grace did.
After some research, some tears, and some chats with moms that used Tapestry, I took the plunge. We used it for three years.
So… after three years of using Tapestry of Grace, what forced me to leave? Number one reason was the waste of content that I paid for. There is a ton included in TOG, but most of it goes unused, even when using all four levels. I pay for all of it in the hefty price tag. I really tried to not waste. I tried to use it all, but, wowza! It is a pretty impressive feat for a family to use everything in the recommended (not even considering factoring in the extra resources) areas for all four levels. I’m not that impressive.
Secondly, the price tag. Not only is the basic instruction plan expensive ($170 currently for digital edition, $295 for print), but many of the books were expensive.
Thirdly, I couldn’t utilize the Student Activity Pages if I replaced a book with one I already owned. This created two problems for me: I didn’t use books I already had from Sonlight AND I spent more money.
Fourthly, deciding which books to use at for every level for every week got to be more overwhelming than I enjoyed because there were so many and little to no overlap and I HAD to use their book choices, so I had to choose from their books.
Another reason I left TOG was that while the program was amazing and chock full of history, I no longer saw the need to spend that much time on history. My dialectic and rhetoric aged children had no time to spend on talents and personal interests. Their week was full and history was a big chunk of it. Granted, I didn’t have to have them do all of the Thinking, Accountability, and Discussion Questions (and I did bail on that the last year), but then I again wasted content I paid for.
Lastly, I became frustrated having to find replacement books for those no longer in print. That need would only grow the longer I used TOG and cycled through, adding a level each year.
So, there you have it: the post promised on why I left Sonlight and Tapestry of Grace.
I haven’t regretted my decisions.
I will say that I use aspects of each curriculum because they had some terrific elements. For example, I always include “Sonlight books” and I might buy TOG’s Key Documents CD. I might supplement BiblioPlan with TOG’s philosophy materials that I have.
Using only SL or only TOG no longer works for us. For now, BiblioPlan is a better match (see the review for hints at why).
I hope I’ve landed on a core curriculum for forever. But… ya never know.