Why I Left Sonlight & Tapestry of Grace

by GfG on February 27, 2013 · 15 comments

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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.   :-)


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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

The Reader February 27, 2013 at 5:49 am

Thanks for this summary post. In the last year or so, SL really began adding back in the Bible focus that you are missing, which is one of the reasons we left it. Crazy, huh? Not that I’m anti-Bible in any way, shape or form, but the commentary wasn’t something I completely agreed with.

Still, you are so right, it’s very hard to use across ages. I kept thinking I could, but never managed, and juggling 3 Cores (even the bits & pieces & way relaxed schedule that I used) was a HUGE chore. Huge.

I’m in an odd place now, with the older boys in on-line school and the little one in Literacy 101; if or when we get back around to the place where I need a full curriculum, you can bet I’ll be checking your reviews again. Thanks for posting them.


Casie February 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Your reviews are so interesting for me to read, as you have used or looked into the main curriculum programs I struggle with each year. Except I am just beginning! I know I can change and alter as we go along, but each program has a different strength and I wish that I could consolidate their strengths! I want a core curriculum where I can teach multiple ages, have a Biblical focus/view of history, be hands on and engaging, and includes living books. Basically, I want Sonlight’s books, Biblioplan’s Bible integration, and Tapestry of Grace/My Father’s World hands on projects/notebooking. I wish I could take all of the specific knowledge you have gained and apply it to our family. Thank you for sharing your insights!


hmschooling March 6, 2015 at 11:58 pm

The books of sonlight, bible integration of biblioplan, and hands on/notebooking of TOG and MFW…you just described Heart of Dakota! There are many of us that struggle with figuring out and choosing between all these, aren’t there?! So many choices and ao hard to see them well enough to know how they’ll fit pur families without using each one. Except for having detailed reviews like this one!


GfG March 9, 2015 at 2:42 pm

Those three describe HoD. See my other comment on why it’s not what some of us want though and why it doesn’t do what BiblioPlan does. And why I never chose it for our family, despite being a great curriculum.


Faith February 28, 2013 at 12:56 pm

Thank you Gfg, for your posts about this!!


renee February 28, 2013 at 5:34 pm

I have really appreciated your posts on this too!


Michele April 15, 2013 at 12:03 am

Thanks for this review! You have really helped me make a decision. I have some of the sames thoughts about the things I love about TOG. I am planning to use bibloplan this year but would like to add an element or two from Tapestry. Do you know if the pagent of Philosophy can be purchased by itself? I can’t seem to find it that way. Also, do you have ideas for adding more church history? Thanks so much for the help!


GfG April 15, 2013 at 12:41 am

I don’t think Pageant of Philosophy can be bought separately, which is a shame.
I haven’t figured out more church history yet. :-( I’ve considered just looking on the site for all the books rec’d under that category, at least for dialectic and rhetoric.


Amanda October 25, 2013 at 11:49 pm

I am looking closley at TOG and BP do either of them include ancient civilizations in other parts of the world in year 1? and to what degree? That is the one thing I find lacking with our choices each time. We have done Ambleside, Heart of Dakota, and now My Father’s World to do Ancients but we never hear about the other parts of the world very much if at all.


GfG October 26, 2013 at 5:35 pm

I think it depends on which grade level you would be using these program for in your homeschool. If only early elementary, then I think BP coves more of the world since it includes Mystery of History and Story of the World as options for spines. If talking about upper grades, then TOG would probably hit more. I’m honestly having a tough time remembering much more than Egypt, India, and China in TOG, but I could be wrong. SOTW hits more.

I took the advice for my answer from a friend that has done the entire year of BP ancients. I am only on week 10 today.


Sarah July 28, 2014 at 8:55 pm

You might try the Weaver Curriculum now owned by Alpha Omega. Strong bible emphasis, in fact the bible is the foundation and the academics 2nd to that. Also it is so flexible basically any resource can be used for the topic.

I have been using Weaver for 13yrs, and I am only reading your blog to do a quick evaluation for a mom who is just branching out on her own and specifically enquired about TOG and MFW. :)


hmschooling March 6, 2015 at 11:54 pm

Great reviews! Heart of Dakota does now go preschool through highschool! These are all programs I’ve looked at and wondered how they compared. Thanks for sharing. :)


GfG March 9, 2015 at 2:41 pm

HoD has had all levels for a long time, but there isn’t a program that you can do ALL of the grades together in only one of their programs. It’s a great curriculum, but doesn’t meet the need for those of us who want all of our kids studying the same time period together in a school year. I like HoD for those who don’t have large age spreads or for those who don’t necessarily want their family to study the same time period in history all together.


Mary March 26, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Thank you for your reviews of TOG, SL, and BP. I have used TOG off and on for years (I have all the classic editions and 3 years of redesign.) Each time I moved away from TOG, it was because I felt overworked and that we were spending too much time on those subjects. I tried SL and it didn’t suit us. I prefer the four year history cycle. Tried TWTM method but found I really wanted more structure.

Ironically I used Biblioplan years ago. I have the 2000 Ancients edition! I enjoyed it but moved away from it because there wasn’t enough structure (guidance is probably a better word) for me. Now BP looks just right. I’ll be using year one with a 7th grader next year. She is my last child, and I was dreading history. We just finished SOTW 4 this year, and I wanted a curriculum that didn’t feature SOTW as the spine again for the logic stage. Plenty of options in BP! And I already own a lot of them! Thanks again!


Ani March 9, 2017 at 10:13 pm

Thank you so much for this post! After 3 1/2 years of hsing, I’ve finally stumbled upon BP, and it looks like what I’ve been searching for. I’ve looked at all the other programs, tried MFW, knew that SL and TOG would be overkill for me, and that HOD didn’t allow for enough variation (you’re rather stuck using the books they recommend because those are the ones scheduled.). I’m praying that BP will be the curriculum that I can stick with! They have many more resources available now, but I’m going to start with just the family guide, maps, and timeline.


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