Tag Archives: classical homeschooling

Meet a Homeschool Graduate: Rachel

Rachel kindly allowed us to interview her about her experience homeschooling, and learning through the whole book, classical education that Tapestry provides. Rachel and her family have done Tapestry since she was in first grade, and have used a variety of learning methods, via an online co-op, the Lampstand Learning Center, and a local co-op that her mom helps run. I love that although Rachel hasn’t settled on all her future plans, she sees the value that her homeschool high school education gave her. I also love her advice to both homeschool students and their parents!Read an encouraging story about the benefits a highschool senior sees from being homeschooled.This interview has been edited lightly for clarity

 Rachel, what are your future plans?

Currently my future plans are rather loose. I am, however, planning on attending college in the fall and furthering my education. I made the decision to attend college so that I can further my education, as well as provide myself with the opportunity to grow and procure achievements to help with my future after school (such as a degree).

How has Tapestry helped you in your education?

Tapestry has helped in my education in the way that it is set up. The format encourages critical thinking and reading skills to develop. Those skills are useful in all areas of schooling and life. I don’t have a chosen major or field as of yet, but the format of Tapestry promotes skills and techniques for learning that go beyond simply history and literature.

Meet Rachel, a homeschooled high school senior who talks about things she benefitted from in homeschooling.What are some of your favorite aspects of Tapestry?

I enjoy the discussion aspect a lot. If there is a specific area I’m struggling to retain or grasp information on, the interactive discussions usually help to cement it. I also like that the literature curriculum goes side by side with the history portion. Knowing the historical, political, and contextual background of a certain work really enriches the experience of reading and studying it.

What have you learned the most through your Tapestry studies? How has it shaped your worldview?

I have learned how to read and think critically, and to develop my own thoughts and ideas as well as being able to present them in a comprehensive manner. I wouldn’t say Tapestry has shaped my worldview, but it has shown me how to be more aware of it and how to analyze other’s worldviews.

What was your favorite subject or time period you studied in Tapestry?

Year 4 [Modern History] in both history and literature. The history is captivating and the literature is all so consistently rich and enjoyable.

Did you have a favorite historical figure or anybody who was particularly inspiring?

No particular historical figure, but I really loved and have been inspired by some of the authors I’ve been exposed to through Tapestry. Writers and poets such as George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, William Wordsworth, William Blake, and more.

What are some of your other outside interests? How did you fit that in while keeping up with your school?

Well, fortunately, I am an avid reader, so when I don’t have time during the semester to read books of my choosing, I am still getting a taste of new genres and works through literature class. I also enjoy cooking and baking as well as playing ukulele and guitar. It can be hard finding time to do those things during the school week, but they make a great break from the perpetual assignments.Meet the Woods family, who have used Tapestry for many years with their children.The Woods Family

What advice or encouragement would you want to give to homeschooled students?

Make the most of it and put in an effort. In homeschooling (I’ve found) if you don’t have the self-accountability, motivation, and follow through, you’ll get nothing done. Also, more Tapestry specific, don’t be afraid to admit you don’t have the answer. If your teacher asks something and it totally isn’t clicking, instead of just rambling and making up answers (I have been there), simply say “I don’t know” and make an effort to listen and understand the answer. You’re allowed to not know the right answer, but don’t use that as an excuse to come to class unprepared. Genuinely try your hardest to find answers and explanations and to learn. You can only get out of it what you put in, so work hard.

What advice or encouragement would you give to homeschooling parents?

Help your student, but don’t hand them the answers. Help them to understand the concepts and to reach the answer through their own effort. Give them advice, the materials, and the tools, but not the final product. That said, some days are harder than others. Be discerning and don’t excuse them from too much, but be gracious.

Poetics: A Wonderful Literary Analysis Textbook

“Poetics” used to mean simply “literature.” Aristotle used the word as a title for his book about the history and basic working principles of literature. Aristotle’s book became a classic in his time and ever since, but so much has been added to literature that it is no longer a complete guide for modern students. Poetics is a wonderful Literary handbook for highschool

We searched for years to find a single text that would combine good lists, examples, and explanations of literary analysis tools with a history of the important literary periods. We felt that this would add so much to our Tapestry Literature curriculum. Since we could not find one that fit those things, we asked one of our Tapestry literature authors, Christina Somerville, to write a new Poetics for the modern Christian student.

Because we care so much about worldview studies, we also got permission to include James W. Sire’s descriptions of the basic historical worldviews (from his book, The Universe Next Door) in Poetics. Our literary handbook describes and explains literature-shaping worldviews like Buddhism and Hinduism, Deism, Naturalism (also called Atheism), Existentialism, and more. Poetics is a wonderful Literary handbook for highschool

Poetics covers the whole history of Western literature from ancient to modern. Because it is so comprehensive, our Poetics has proven a useful resource for all of the following standard course titles:

  • World Literature I
  • World Literature II
  • British Literature I
  • British Literature II
  • American Literature

We hear many stories about how Poetics has helped students to understand the difference between truth and artistry, to become interested in literature, to recognize worldview beliefs in stories, and to love the Bible as a work of artistic truth. We are so glad that so many students have benefited from using this volume!

Poetics is a wonderful Literary handbook for highschool

How to Define your Values to Determine your Homeschooling Goals

If you are new to homeschooling, you have already found that you have to contend with a myriad of choices and voices. As with any new endeavor, you must learn a new vocabulary, involving such words as “modalities” and “fine motor skills” and “unit study approach.” It’s a steep learning curve about a really important topic–your child’s education–and it can be bewildering and stressful!

What you value should be what decides your homeschooling goals.Many different vendors of curricula, leading authors, and well-meaning friends (or relations) may tell you that their program is “the best” or “the only” or “the essential” ingredient to successful teaching and/or parenting. These mentors all sincerely believe what they say, or they wouldn’t be teaching others to do as they do!

But the truth is that there are many different, valid methods that will help you to achieve the general goal of successful homeschooling. So, if you are a newbie, how can you know what to choose?  If you have a newbie in your network, how might you help them to know where to start and what to choose?

It helps to start with the end in mind. The years of homeschooling are well envisioned as a journey, with different phases, many adventures, and an ultimate destination. This journey requires dedication, perseverance, and faith.

Because many of us did not grow up homeschooling or seeing it done, we are like the early explorers or merchants who launched out by sea and land to seek a vaguely conceived prize with only the most rudimentary navigational aids. For centuries, adventurers steered by the stars.

Have you found your “guiding star” for the homeschool journey?

Parents start homeschooling for a wide variety of reasons. Before I go on, remember that all of these reasons for beginning the journey are valid, sensible, and motivational. God has all kinds of ways (some full of humor) of drawing us to paths that He’s marked out for us.

  • Some start the journey as a reaction to life circumstances (from “my child’s Kindergarten teacher was intolerable” to “we are a military family and move a lot”).
  • Some moms start homeschooling because they support someone else’s vision (like “my husband grew up homeschooling and really wants me to, so I am going to give it a try”).
  • Some parents are eager to start, but only see homeschooling as a “get ahead” measure: they plan to homeschool only until their child is reading well, and then put them into a school. For them, it’s a “head start” measure.
  • And then there are the ideologues: parents who homeschool for principled reasons, most typically related to education, religion, and/or family building.

My biggest concern for many couples who are attracted to homeschooling for the more practical (vs. principled) reasons, is that they have not yet crystallized their vision: they may lack a clear sense of why they are homeschooling.  Sometimes, they have no clear vision of what success would even look like. When they are confronted with early schooling choices, they may have no star to steer by.

Given the long-distance nature of the journey and rigors along the way, it’s hard to sustain momentum. You may wonder if it’s even going to be worth it–whatever “it” is!

Moms in their first years of the journey need motivation, need context for making decisions, need trustworthy guides, and need resources by which they can choose the first guiding star that they can steer by. To borrow from a career book title by David Campbell, If You Don’t Know Where You’re Going, You’ll Probably End Up Somewhere Else.

I believe that in most areas of life, couples need to take time to ponder their goals, not just the means that they will adopt to get to their goals. My husband and I have spent hours and hours over the years talking around and through what we want to achieve in our parenting.  We have found we do best when we start with the principles, and then figure out our practices.  Our principles (our values) serve as our guiding star, no matter where the practical affairs of the journey take us.

So, for homeschooling, let me ask you: “What is your guiding star?” Where are you headed? How long do you think it will take to get there? What would success look like? When will you have arrived?

Before those questions overwhelm you, take a deep breath.  Remember, your stars will change with the seasons! Like the constellations of the night sky, different seasons will bring different goals.

Those goals that you crystallize for your grammar-school years may not serve you well in the teen years. As God grows you and your capacity to love and serve, you may find that your guiding stars are quite different at the start, in three years, and in ten years.

That’s OK! Homeschooling is a journey, and the great delight of picking a star to head for is that now you can make choices and gain some headway, instead of being anxious, or knowing that you’re wandering around in circles! You don’t have to know each bend and turn  in the road ahead. God’s guidance is usually more like headlights on a car, illuminating only the path immediately ahead of us, than a map that lays out the whole journey at a glance. That’s where faith and trust get built. But we do need to start. And, to start, we need to pick a direction that we think is good to head. Only then can we begin to say “yes” to some choices and “no” to others!