Five Different Approaches: Tapestry of Grace

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Tapestry of Grace is another history-centered approach to classical education. It was born when a homeschooling mother, trying desperately to give her six children an excellent education, found herself overwhelmed.

After some thought, prayer, and deliberation, she realized that using what she knew (history) could be a unifying theme for all her children and most of the subjects within her homeschool.

Tapestry of Grace

Tapestry of Grace is the program my family uses combined with elements of  The Well-Trained Mind. It’s been a wonderful fit for us. History, literature, writing, fine arts, and worldview/Bible studies for all my children from kindergarten to 12th grade are combined into one plan.

Each week’s plan includes suggested reading assignments for each level, individual projects, group projects, possible movies to watch, and much more.

As you look through the grades and stages below, you’ll notice an overlap. That’s because kids don’t progress from stage to stage evenly. Some are ready early and other kids need another year to mature.

Lower Grammar (K-3rd grade)

Tapestry of Grace breaks the grammar stage into two sections. The first is the lower grammar stage where we have our young children who can’t read.

Phonics, handwriting, and math take priority over history, science, and fine arts. But we don’t want to skip these subjects either. They’re the dessert after the work, the fun to inspire them.

Suggest memory work is provided… specifically people, historical events, and vocabulary the children should know. Literature terminology is gently introduced in preparation for the dialect and rhetoric stages.

Upper Grammar (3rd – 6th grade)

Upper grammar is sometimes called the golden years. The children read well and love stories. You can hand them book after book after book and let them absorb the stories, tales, and knowledge.

On the other hand, they’re not ready for in-depth discussions analyzing and critiquing events. Tapestry of Grace schedules many good books and fun projects for these years and continues the gentle introduction to vocabulary and literary terminology.

Dialectic (6th – 9th grade)

The dialectic stage is when Tapestry of Grace begins assigning accountability and thinking questions to the children. A discussion outline to guide parents through teaching beginning analysis and critiques to their children is included.

Children are expected to think about what they’ve read, analyze it, and consider further ramifications. They are no longer allowed to simply read and absorb information.

The discussion outlines and teacher’s notes are pure gold at this point. The teacher’s notes give you the background information you need to well-versed in what the children are studying.

The discussion outline guides you through the Socratic method of questions and answers. While suggested answers are given, you’re also expected to add to the discussion from the wealth of experience you have.

Rhetoric (9th – 12th grade)

The rhetoric stage is similar to the dialectic stage in many respects with accountability and thinking questions assigned. Teenagers are expected to read, critique, and apply the lessons to their own life. To consider the implications of people’s actions on history.

The discussion format is the same as the dialectic level, but the questions require deeper thinking from the teenagers. They are also to analyze and consider what this means for their own lives. What type of people do they wish to become?

Literature in Tapestry of Grace is thorough with an overview of the Great Books over the 4 years of the Tapestry of Grace cycle. Year 1 begins with students reading literature from Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Hebrews. Year 4 includes classics such as Fahrenheit 451, I Robot, and To Kill a Mocking Bird.


Tapestry of Grace suggests a study of Latin but recommends beginning Latin later than the other approaches, closer to 7th grade rather than 3rd grade.

The best feature of Tapestry of Grace for my family is the K-Mom approach. Reading assignments are given for children from kindergarten through the 12 grade. The teacher’s notes summarizing the reading for busy moms are included.

For those families who want more, there are many co-ops around the county. Tapestry of Grace even has a virtual co-op available through the internet.

The history cycle is different from The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. Year 1 is the same. Year 2 races through the time period from the fall of Rome to 1800. Year 3 meanders through 1800-1900. Year 4 studies the time period from 1900-present.

Tapestry of Grace has been a blessing to my family over the last 4 years.

Read more of the 5 Approaches to Classical Education posting this week:

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  1. Thanks for the overview! I’ve downloaded their sample pack a few times over the years to check it out =) I’m reevaluating things to figure out what our plan will be for next year, so these posts are great to read, thanks!

  2. You gave a really great overview of TOG. I gave TOG a try once and at the time, it just didn’t seem to work out as well as I had hoped. I have a large age span between my two girls – a 17yo and a 7yo. So the need to combine wasn’t a big issue for us. I think if I had started with TOG at the beginning of high school, it might have worked out much better. I really like the way TOG is put together and the teacher/parent notes are excellent! I did still use some of the material at different times. For example, when my daughter read Gulliver’s Travels and Les Miserables, I was able to pull out all the questions and notes from the TOG material I had and use those. I have thought about picking back up with TOG when my youngest hits the upper grammar or dialectic level. We will see.

    I was really wanting to hone in on more literary analysis this next year with my highschooler. She will be a senior. This week, I began looking through the TOG materials I have and thought I could utilize them. But it seems like it would be fragmented since we haven’t done the other TOG years in high school and so she wouldn’t be working through all of the literary resources. My thoughts were I could possibly print out the poetics and frameworks and have her read through that in its entirety and then pick and choose from the novels listed in the TOG materials to do literary analysis with. Since you are a TOG user at the high school level, do you have any thoughts on that or any suggestions?

    1. My first thought is that TOG high school literature is divided into two parts. One is for beginning students just starting TOG rhetoric literature, and the other is for continuing students. I doubt there will be any problem jumping in at the beginning level. You could even pick and choose topics from the continuing level to discuss.

      TOG has come out with a bound copy of Poetics that includes the Framework material. It’s thick… really thick! My recommendation is not to attempt to read all of Poetics and Frameworks, instead pick out the parts that are important. For instance, if you’re reading Homer’s Iliad, read the sections related to Homer, epic, and the ancient Greeks. Basically, read the sections of poetics that are assigned; don’t attempt to read everything. I doubt you’ll have any trouble jumping into the middle as TOG accounts for kids in large families doing just that. I’ve had children start rhetoric TOG in year 2, year 4, and year 1. The discussions are gold and fill in the gaps. 🙂

      Picking and choosing the novels you prefer to read is a great idea! You can take a look at the literature cutting chart for ideas, but I’ve often adapted it according to my preferences and tastes.

      1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I want to make sure to include all the main elements of literary analysis and that’s why I was wondering if we’d miss things if we just followed the TOG year I have. But I guess I could pick from the material all the main elements and cover those and then choose the novels to cover and do the literary analysis with. Also, I do believe TOG has a Literary Criticism supplement separate from the Poetics and Frameworks. I’ll look into that and see how long it is and what material it contains as well. 🙂

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