Tag Archives: International

Tapestry is with Sue in Singapore

Tapestry in Singapore

     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 Sue, a parent-teacher who will be homeschooling her two young children with Tapestry’s Primer this year in Singapore!

Sue, I understand that you are a homeschooling native of Singapore?

Yes, I am.  My husband is a trainer and consultant and we have two children (ages 6 and 4) whom we homeschool in Singapore.

Tell me about your homeschooled children? 

My older son is six, so he’s primarily the one whom I am homeschooling. He has been responding very well to the approach of drilling memory work at the Grammar stage. However, I have also realized that I sometimes also need to give him the context of the facts that he memorizes to help him understand them better. Stories help with this because my children take to them easily.

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Why did you decide to use Primer as a complimentary supplement to Classical Conversations? 

My son has been challenged to learn how to do his memory work in the Classical Conversations community, which is wonderful! The Classical Conversations model then encourages parents like myself to model what is done at community day and finds ways to teach our children at home. This also includes finding materials that will extend our students’ understanding of the facts that they memorize through our community and help them to remember the grammar better. I thought that Primer’s story-driven and multi-sensory materials would give excellent context and help my students lock information into their long-term memory.

I know you’ve been using our Primer sample for a few weeks now. Has it helped your students with their memory work, the way you hoped it would?

I really think so, yes! The activities and the geography, as well as read aloud time and coloring sheets—in fact the whole multi-sensory approach—brings to life the information my student is memorizing, and connects the pieces together for him as well. It’s all here, and my children are able to grasp it. For instance, my oldest son had memorized the fact that the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers exist before in our community group, but now I think he understands Mesopotamia as the land between the rivers, and about its culture and history.

What are some of the highlights of Primer for you as a Christian educator?

We have greatly enjoyed starting back at the beginning with the Bible.  Even though we’ve done it so many times, I feel that it came alive much more this time because it is so much more in-depth.  We see so much more how these are real historical people, and also seeing how God weaves together the strands of history.  We also loved the activities, doing Noah’s ark and building a ziggurat.  Those helped my students to visualize and interact with biblical history.

Has the Guidebook been helpful?

The Guidebook has really helped me to prepare, but more than that it has been a spiritual exercise for me and personally enriching.  Starting with geography has really helped as well—I know where things are happening in history. Also, instead of going through so many sources to look for what I need, I have everything and know that my materials are accurate and reliable.

What are some of the things that you’ve learned spiritually?

I think that going back over these early weeks on Egypt and early Mesopotamia and the Exodus reminds me of the whole idea that we as sinful men tend to worship the created rather than the Creator, and that our hearts are so prone to wander.  I am newly aware of the irony that we were created in God’s image and yet we choose to worship the things that we create.  Also the magnified view of self—the human idea that we can reach God.  That was brought to light when we were trying to build a tower of Babel and trying to make it as tall as possible.  We did that activity and I just realized that we can never reach God.

What does your husband think of Primer?

My husband is a former history teacher and he has been really happy with Primer.  He does the Bible story at night with our children and is involved in some of the activities.  I think he is looking forward to what we will learn as our children get further into history.

It is wonderful to see how Tapestry products are being used as a supplement to various other classical programs, and how it has benefited Sue and her children in Singapore!

 

Tapestry is with Rachel in New Zealand

New Zealand

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.

Rachel and her family

How does homeschooling look in New Zealand?  Is it hard to homeschool there?

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.

Tapestry is with Jillane and Joelle in Canada

Tapestry in Canada Final

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 Jillane and Joelle, who are parent-teachers homeschooling with Tapestry in Canada!

Where in Canada do you live, ladies, and what is your background?

Joelle: I’m an immigrant to Canada from Martinique, which is a small French island in the Caribbean. I live towards the eastern coast of Canada, right at the border of Toronto and Mississauga.

Jillane: I live in west-central Canada, and I’m a native Canadian. I am also a former public school teacher.

What’s one quirky thing about Canadian culture that you really enjoy and would love to share with your American neighbors?

Joelle: Beaver tail! We eat beaver tails in eastern Canada. It’s not actually a beaver’s tail; it’s a pastry shaped like a beaver’s tail. You might eat it with apple cinnamon topping or with a Nutella topping–that’s very popular right now. We even have beaver tail stands in town.

Jillane: I’ve definitely heard of beaver tails here in western Canada. I was thinking of maple syrup because it is of course a very Canadian thing. Our flag has a maple leaf on it, obviously. David’s Tea is a newer Canadian thing: it’s a specialty tea place based in Toronto and is the largest in the country. I hear they’ve even opened one in the United States! We’re also a nation of immigrants and have a very multicultural culture.

What is the strangest cultural or historical thing you’ve ever heard about America—something that just made you go “huh…”

Joelle: Most states in America seem to have higher speed limits: they go faster than we do here on the Canadian highways.

Jillane: All the southern traditions and dishes seem strange to me… much as an igloo might be strange to southerners! Though I’m always surprised at how many Americans seem to think we Canadians live in igloos, and most of us wouldn’t even know how to build one.

Joelle, I know you love to read theology. Who would be your biggest theological hero?

I do read a lot of theology and love theology. Somebody like Luther would be a hero of mine. His strength and personality and willingness to fight for what he thought needed to be said are inspiring to me.

Jillane, who would be your biggest Canadian historical hero?

Jillane: I’m having trouble picking one because of all the ones we’ve read about! For instance, today I was reading about Joe Boyle and how he was involved in the dredging up in the Klondike, and I didn’t even know about him! I don’t think many Canadians would. So I’m always discovering new Canadian heroes hidden between the leaves of our history.

 What is your biggest reason for using Tapestry?

Joelle: The main reason for me is the Christian worldview. The history is very full and it’s clear that the lead author (Marcia Somerville) has a strong background in history, as well as a strong Christian worldview. I also love that it’s not just American history, but world history and geography.

Jillane: My main reason is the worldview too, and also the classical approach where we can all talk around the table about the same material.

 How much Canadian history do you include as you go through Tapestry?

Joelle: I haven’t tried to add to add in a lot of Canadian history. My oldest student is in the dialectic level. Next year I will begin to try to add in Canadian history for my students.

Jillane: I really didn’t want to let go of any of American or World history. Fortunately, Canadian history doesn’t really pick up much until the middle of Year 2 or in Year 3. I began by including books on Canadian history where appropriate. For instance, the Klondike Gold Rush was a big thing in Canada as well. So I might include a Canadian book and then have my students work along at a project related to Canadian history that would tie in to what they were studying in Tapestry. Then, my third step has been to try to include the occasional tie-in question when we are doing discussion scripts at the dialectic and rhetoric levels.

Jillane, you’ve shared with me before that actually the American Civil War had a big effect on Canada. What was that effect?

The Civil War had a big effect on Canadian history because it was one of the primary reasons that pushed independent colonies (under Britain) to unite. This is what birthed Canada under the British North American Act. When we consider how different each of the colonies were, it is nothing short of God’s hand and perhaps the push of the Civil War that brought unity to Canada in such a short time frame. In fact, 2017 is Canada’s 150th year Celebration of Confederation (the union of the colonies into what is now Canada)! As such, our country will be hosting events to celebrate and I was hoping to inspire home schoolers to teach/learn about that time period prior to July 1, 2017.

If there were one or two things that you would love to see happen in the community of Canadian Tapestry users, what would they be?

Joelle: I’d love to find a way for the printed versions of curricula (not just Tapestry but any American curriculum) to be a little less expensive in Canada. The shipping costs are hard for us, so it’s a good thing there are digital versions available. I’d also love to see Canadian Tapestry users get connected to each other, maybe to know about things like Virtual co-ops. I’d want them to know that those are available as a way for people who live far apart to get connected.

Jillane: I agree with Joelle: books are really expensive to ship to Canada. Besides that, I would love for Canadians to get to learn about how American and Canadian histories are tied together. I didn’t learn that as a child, but it’s been so exciting for me to see that and make the connections with Tapestry. It makes me want other Canadians to see how our history ties in with world history and American history. Tapestry explains so well that God is sovereign and has control over all history, but I want us to see how we are part of that.

Do you have any specific dreams about how you’d like to serve other homeschoolers?

Joelle: I would love to be available for people to give ideas on how to adapt the curriculum to fit their particular needs or limitations, whether budget wise, or homeschooling style or whatever. I have started a Facebook group for Canadian Tapestry users and I would love to see more of us get connected. If you are in Canada and interested, I hope you will consider joining my group!

Jillane: I have developed some specifically “Canadian” threads for my children because I want them to know our history just as well as American and world history. We have a lot of Canadian books and I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how that fits in. It’s been a lot of work for me to develop and I don’t necessarily just want to throw that out there, but I would love to find a way to share it that makes sense.

It was exciting to interview Jillane and Joelle about their experiences with Tapestry in Canada, because as we talked it became clear that Tapestry of Grace is not just a curriculum about American history, but is actually a curriculum that brings a biblical perspective to the complex tapestry of world history. We will see this idea unfold further as the series continues: stay tuned!

Tapestry is with Alesha in West Africa

Final West Africa 2

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 Alesha, a homeschooling mother and Tapestry user who lives in West Africa!

Why are you in West Africa, Alesha? 

We are missionaries with Pioneer Bible Translators.  We work with a people group called the Kono who don’t yet have a Bible in their own language, or indeed anything written in their language until recently.

Is there any one interesting thing about the Kono culture that you’d like to share with us?

One thing that’s interesting is how everybody eats very communally.  They mostly eat rice with some kind of sauce on top.  It’s much more communal than we have in the West.  For big events they will cook a huge amount of rice, like a laundry basket of rice, and bring it out and everybody eats from the same dish.  I love food, so that’s a big thing for me.  It’s a rule that you have to eat with your right hand.  It reminds me of the Last Supper with everybody eating out of one dish, literally sharing the same meal.  Of course it’s easy for us to worry about germs, etc., but it’s a big honor for them when we join them.  They just did a meal like that recently at our church.

I have to ask, why do you use Tapestry in Africa?

We started using it when we still lived in the States (we’ve only been in Africa for two years), and we decided to keep it because it was working well; we liked the curriculum.P1010656

Why did you picked Tapestry in the first place?

 

I’ve been using it for six years.  One year we didn’t homeschool because we were doing language training in France, and one year we used another program, but mostly we’ve used Tapestry.  Two other families and ourselves had students in second and third grade, and we decided we wanted to do Tapestry. We wanted something that combined chronological history with activities, and we really liked how the writing program fit into the history studies. My oldest is now a freshman in high school and we’re all still using Tapestry.

What have been some of the challenges of homeschooling with Tapestry in Africa?

I think the biggest challenge has been not having a library nearby, which means it’s hard to do any homeschooling program (not just Tapestry).  But the internet really helps and I really love how thorough Tapestry’s booklists are.  That means that if I follow the booklists and plan in advance to buy all the books on the list, we will have a good variety of options and everything we might need to complete the assignments.

I can easily see how the internet would be important.  Do you have good internet?

Yes we do, and we are even joining a virtual co-op this year (the Shema co-op).  I’m going to put my three oldest daughters (one rhetoric student and two dialectic students) into it, and I’m really grateful that we have the option to do that so that my daughters can have peer discussions!

Have you had any interesting culture clash experiences, being homeschoolers in Africa?

Well, we have kind of a French education system here, and my rhetoric level daughter’s peers in the church choir can’t really wrap their minds around how she does school on her own.  They are used to doing rote memorization based on what their teacher tells them, so they can’t understand it.  In one conversation that my daughter Kaelyn was having with the girls from choir, one of them said they figured that Kaelyn could do her school by herself because she must only do one subject, not lots of subjects like they do here at the national schools. I thought that was funny.  And they were surprised that she doesn’t get “spanked” at school by her teacher.  Apparently they do!

Are you glad, as you enter the high school years, that you’ve been using Tapestry for six years?  Do you feel that your older daughters are enjoying their education and learning to be thinking people?

Yes, I do.  We just finished up speech writing as an exercise and I asked them to do their best even though there wouldn’t necessarily be an audience.  I was impressed with how willing they were to work hard, and I see them being more independent, meeting deadlines, etc., as they get older.  I would attribute that in part to being a missionary—having to be flexible because we travel a lot and have to do school at strange times… but also I think they work hard and are independent because of being homeschooled from the beginning.

Has TOG been a source of encouragement and continuing education for you as you are sort of “on your own” in another country?

Yes, definitely.  I keep learning and it’s been a way for me to be challenged, and to keep on learning more about home even when I’m far away. We’ve never actually done Year 1 but we are going to do it this year and I’m really looking forward to it because of the opportunity to focus on building a biblical worldview.  The village here has actually shown me a lot about what it must have been like to live in biblical times.

Do you have any prayer requests for us?

An ongoing prayer request that we have for our kids is finding the balance between helping them to stay connected with people and things back home, and yet learning about the culture and people here. Because of my children’s ages and the way the culture is here, we don’t feel comfortable just letting them go off on their own, and homeschooling does take a lot of time, so you do have to find time to help them get together with others.  Also, pray for them to continue to develop good relationships with each other in their sibling group.

For myself, I would ask you to pray for much the same things as I ask for my children.  Homeschooling takes a lot of time and preparation, and I want to do that, but I also want to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading to consistently be willing to reach out to new people as He brings them into my life.

We are grateful to Alesha for taking a few minutes to talk with us about how Tapestry supports a missionary family while they are serving Christ. We invite you to join us in praying for her!

Introducing the “Tapestry is Everywhere!” Series

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Every so often we hear stories from Tapestry users in exotic places like Africa or New Zealand. Sometimes we also learn of users here in America who combine Tapestry with other programs, such as a Schole group that uses Tapestry’s history and literature. Sometimes we speak with families who are both far away and using Tapestry with another program–like Sue, a Classical Conversations Director on the other side of the world who plans to use Tapestry Primer this fall as an aid to her children’s memory work!

These stories tickle our fancy because they show us again how Tapestry can be applied in places or ways that we wouldn’t have thought to try, both at home and abroad. Therefore, this series of interviews is dedicated to our friends who use Tapestry… well, everywhere!