This interview is part of a series called “Tapestry is Everywhere!”, in which we learn from Tapestry users who are applying the curriculum in surprising ways or places. In this article we’ll meet Rachel, a parent-teacher homeschooling with Tapestry in New Zealand!
Tell me, Rachel: why and where are you in New Zealand?
Born and bred here! My family immigrated here from the UK many years ago; I’m a fifth generation native of New Zealand. I live in Auckland, which is the biggest city.
What’s one of your favorite things about New Zealand?
I love that it’s a green country, which is stereotypical because of Lord of the Rings, but it’s true. You’re never far from the beach. It is winter right now, but my children can still spend most of their time out of doors. You’re never far from the beach, and even with 1.5 million people Auckland is a pretty green city.
What is winter like there?
It’s a temperate climate, but winter is pretty wet. We have rain, but not snow in Auckland. The volcanic plateau in the middle of the North Island (a la ‘Mt. Doom’) gets snow and has ski fields, four hour’s drive from Auckland.
No, it’s pretty easy, but we do have to submit an approximately ten-page paper of intention that outlines basically how you intend to homeshool, when your student is in first grade. We also receive an allowance from the government to homeschool, so expense is not as much of an issue. The allowance doesn’t cover everything, but it does help. Our school year is a little different, though: it goes from February to December. So our summer holidays literally start a week before Christmas. We have a forty-week school year.
So, I have to ask, why is a native of New Zealand doing an American curriculum?
New Zealand is a small country and homeschooling is comparatively new to us: coming into its second generation. We have very little in terms of “made in New Zealand” curriculum available to us. Since I began homeschooling fifteen years ago, I source most of my curriculum from the United States.
That makes sense! Why did you choose Tapestry?
I’ve always wanted a literature-rich history-based curriculum, and given that I have ten children I wanted them all to be doing the same thing. I can take everybody through the same historical period together. The other thing I really liked is that Tapestry’s focus is not so American-centric: it has a more international focus than other curricula I have seen. We picked it up with Year 2 Unit 2 four years ago, because that’s where we happened to be in our history studies. Now we’ve done almost the whole rotation. (I’m about to be able to join the Four Year Club!) I’ve only had to make a few adaptations, for instance in Year 4.
Have you needed to adapt Tapestry to include New Zealand history?
Yes, somewhat in Years 3 and 4. The treaty between the the UK and the Maori people was in 1840, so the bulk of our written history is more recent. But just as Shakespeare is important for general knowledge, so American history is important for general knowledge. But when we get to Year 4 the depth of detail about American presidents, for example, becomes a little boring from a New Zealand point of view. That’s where we drop some of the American details and do more New Zealand stuff.
Do you homeschool with other people, or join a virtual group, or with ten children do you have enough to make your own “school”?
I have other homeschoolers whom I can connect with in Aukland, even some who are using TOG. We get together for play dates and science co-op, but not for TOG co-op. We’re on different years and different learning levels. Also, my oldest is fifteen and only beginning to do Rhetoric, so peer discussion hasn’t been as important.
How hard do you find it is to get the books for Tapestry?
I get most of my books from our library system here in New Zealand. In Year 4 the books were more geared towards America so we had fewer books in the library and had to order them. We use bookdepository.com, which is much less expensive than some other options, especially for international shipping costs.
What are some things that you love about Tapestry?
I really love the way you bring the biblical worldviews in, and how you really bring out the Gospel and God’s plan in Christ in Year 1. I didn’t come to Tapestry for that, particularly, but it’s now the reason why I wouldn’t go anywhere else. When we finished Ancient History just a little while ago, for instance, and learnt how Alexander the Great and then the Roman roads and the Pax Romana were arranged by God to make it possible for the Gospel to expand. That’s a whole new way of looking at history, for me. I also really love the hands-on activities, and some of the unit celebrations we have done.
Rachel’s life with Tapestry in New Zealand helped to show me a few things as I conducted her interview. First, I noticed that like Jillane, Joelle, and Alesha, she loves Tapestry of Grace because although it is an American curriculum, it teaches much more than the history and literature of America. Second, I saw that like these other ladies who use Tapestry outside the United States, Rachel’s top reason for choosing Tapestry is that it brings a deep and rich biblical perspective to world history and literature, with America as one part of that. I felt humbled and awed to realize that Tapestry is part of something much bigger than I had supposed.