This is one of those things that “people say” which illustrates very well the telephone game type of distortion that I described in the Introduction to this series. Whether or not a program is complete depends first of all on what you mean by “complete”!
Let’s define our terms, shall we?
If, by “complete” you mean, “includes all that you need to teach all subjects that are typically studied in a given year” then Tapestry is not complete. But if, by “complete” you mean, “includes all that you need to study deeply a limited number of subjects in a given year” then, yes, Tapestry is a very complete Humanities curriculum.
Now that we’ve defined our terms, let me break that down for you in a bit more detail!
What does “complete program” mean among homeschoolers?
Typically, when homeschoolers talk about a “complete program,” what they mean is that the materials being sold cover all the major subjects in a typical grade-level for a year. What are these subjects?
- For younger children (K-3), they include phonics/reading, math, science, spelling, and handwriting. History and Literature selections (often called read-alouds) may also be offered, and crafts may be included. If it’s a Christian curriculum, you’d expect to see some elements of Bible surveys or studies.
- For the middle, grammar-stage grades (3-6), you would add English grammar to the above list, and definitely have History and Literature offerings of some sorts. You would also expect to include Writing and Geography as standard elements. By this point, phonics/reading would not be a subject, and then, some programs would add rudimentary foreign language studies and crafts (called Art). Again, if it’s a Christian program, some Bible-related materials would be included as well.
- For junior high years (7-8) you would expect that a “complete” program would include studies in History, Literature, Geography, Math, Science, Grammar/Composition (Writing), and Foreign Language. Some programs might offer Logic, if they are oriented towards Classical Education. Those oriented towards Christians may offer Church History studies, as well as continued studies of the Bible.
- During the high school years a “complete” program would include studies in History, Literature, Geography, Math, Science, Grammar/Composition (might be combined with Literature and Writing to be called “English”), and Foreign Language. Some programs offer electives like Government studies, Art, and Economics. As with junior high, Christian ones might offer Church History and theological studies, as well as continued studies of the Bible. High school students often also study Rhetoric (the art of written argumentation and making speeches), Philosophy, and Art History as major electives in some programs.
There are a few “complete” programs on the homeschool market, in that you can order from one company a coordinated set of teaching materials for all the disciplines for a year’s worth of study. You will note, though, that companies that offer “complete” programs have not usually developed all the materials that they sell. Rather, they have used their experience with the various programs available to assemble for you a complete program. And, you’ll find that “complete” programs are far more common in the earlier grades, because there are fewer subjects to cover. There are very few programs that supply all the elements that I’ve listed above for the junior or senior high students and their teachers.
So, how does Tapestry compare?
We do not seek to be a “complete” curriculum program. In this way, what “people say” is correct. We bill ourselves as a “complete Humanities” curriculum, however, and we feel that we are one of the most (if not the most) complete in our materials for the subjects that we do cover. All of what Lampstand Press (Tapestry’s publisher) sells have been developed in house.
Tapestry curricula cover the following:
- For the youngest families, just starting to homeschool, we offer Tapestry Primer. (You don’t have to be planning to use Tapestry to choose to use Primer in your first one or two years, teaching your oldest children in K-2.)
- This is as much an introduction to homeschooling and to history as it is to the Tapestry method. The Primer Guidebook offers parents the ability to bone up on their history knowledge as they teach their youngsters.
- Primer studies survey all of human history in the parent’s choice of 1-2 years. We introduce youngsters to the main plot lines of both human history and the works of God in the context of the human story.
- So, Primer offers study materials for History, Literature, and Geography studies, and also a wealth of craft ideas.
- In answer to a general cry for help with memory work, we devised a card game for Primer students (which can be used by any student of history regardless of his curriculum). It’s called The Big Story Game .
- While Primer includes prompts to use language arts, it does not include phonics, handwriting, science, or math. These must be chosen and purchased separately.
- For many families who are teaching both students that are older than K-2 and those just starting, it makes sense to jump straight into the full Tapestry of Grace program. Tapestry materials put all children (and their teaching parents) on the same topics week to week. This simplifies the parents’ job, while promoting great family discussions and much family unity. Here are the disciplines that Tapestry includes:
- History (all levels)
- Literature selections (all levels)
- Literature worksheets (grades 1-8)
- Literature discussions (grades 7-12)
- Geography reading and map work (all levels)
- Hands-on learning that reinforces studies of a given era or culture (1-8)
- Younger grade students can count this as Art
- High school students have the option of doing Art History, and may choose to do activities suggested for younger students if they are strongly tactile in their modality preferences.
- Writing/Composition (all levels)
- Bible Survey (all levels)
- Church History (all levels)
- History of Philosophy (9-12)
- Government Studies (9-12)
What do you not see in those lists?
- We don’t direct you to use Grammar resources week to week, but we do recommend that you use them, and our sister store, Bookshelf Central, sells Easy Grammar, the program we recommend most strongly.
- We don’t include a Phonics program, but again, we recommend that you choose and use one when teaching littles to read.
- We don’t include study materials for Foreign Languages, but we recommend that you start such studies in junior high.
- We don’t include math or science programs, but we do assume that you are choosing and using the best ones of these that you can find for your unique children, and Bookshelf Central covers materials for some of these.
So, is Tapestry a “complete curriculum”?
No. It’s not. But it is an in-depth, very complete Humanities program, for all the children in your home, and for all of the years that you’ll be homeschooling.