Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sonlight and Tapestry of Grace Comparison

I finally did as I promised and wrote my thoughts on Sonlight and Tapestry of Grace.

Both Sonlight (SL) and Tapestry of Grace (TOG) are excellent curriculum resources.  

Sonlight says it's a literature based program for preschool through 12th grade.  Sonlight uses a Charlotte Mason approach.  You can find out more about curriculum types, such as Charlotte Mason, in Kathy Duffy's 100 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum

The Tapestry of Grace website says it "helps parents provide a Christian, classical education using a guided unit study approach, with the history of the world as the core organizational theme. From Grades K–12, all students cycle through world history every four years, with all ages studying the same slice of history each week, each at their own learning level."
When I started homeschooling I used Sonlight and continued to use for 6 years.  I loved it. Still do.  So why did I stop using it?  The last year I used it, I had a child in 4th grade, 2nd grade, kindergarten a preschooler and a baby.  I was using two separate core programs to accommodate multi-aged children, so essentially I was doing two totally different schools.  It took way too much time.  I later found out that there was a better way to use 2 different cores with Sonlight, but by then I had made the switch.  You can find information about that on their forum.

I looked for a curriculum that would be a better fit for me and somehow, I can't even remember how, I found TOG.  The biggest selling point at that time was that it was created by a mother of 6 who designed it to be used with multiple  kids at different learning levels.  Voila.

You can continue to read more below about what I like about both curriculums.

Picture day for Jesse.

Not to be out done, Levi gets in the action.

Here's what I like about the two curriculums: 


  • Read-a loud books for the younger students.   Some of my favorites are Understood Betsy, The Year of Miss Agnes, And the Word Came with Power and Missionary Stories with the Millers.
  • Open-and-go.  
  • You can order everything from them; get everything in a box.
  • Forum.  The best.  I go to this for everything, homeschooling and non-homeschooling.
  • They have consultants you can talk to.  
  • Great customer service.
  • Their catalog.  Even if you don't use SL, get their free catalog.  I always recommend it to new homeschoolers.  It has wonderful descriptions of many different curriculum that SL sells (like math, science, handwriting) and it has a synopsis of all the books they sell.  There are lots of articles that have a wealth of information about homeschooling in general.
 Tapestry of Grace:
  • Classical, therefore history is taught sequentially and  you repeat it every four years using progressively more difficult resources.
  • The ability to teach all learning levels at once and everyone is studying the same topics.
  • Classical literature:  The Illiad and the Oddessy, Shakespeare.
  • There are read-a-louds but not as many as SL, so not so teacher intensive in that respect. 
  • You can buy all the books on their affiliate, The Bookshelf.
  • Excellent customer service.
  • Online classes!!
  • The Bible study that goes with Year 1 correlates with the actual history going on in the world at that time, so history makes sense.
  • Forum.  Not as extensive as Sonlight.  Marcia, the  creator of TOG, frequents the forums with answers to questions.
Sonlight for High School.  
Sonlight's high school history is unusual.  I haven’t used it but it doesn’t fit in with traditional high school history courses.  Not saying this is a bad thing.  In my last post I wrote about how another mom encouraged me to think outside the box for our kids' education.  
There is an American History year, but one of the optional resources is a resource that TOG uses for upper grammar students (3-6th grade).  The only world  history that they offer for high school is 20th  Century World History so that means in high school they don’t get any ancient history.  Colleges probably don’t  care  about that but I do.  I like my kids getting the full cycle of history during high school.   
The high school courses they offer were not quite what I was looking for.  They offer the following:
  •  American History
  • 20th Century History
  • History of God's Kingdom
  • Civics/American Government
  • British Literature
Now, I must say that I  have trust in SL and I believe that if a student graduates from high school using their curriculum they will have a solid education.  Absolutely.  No doubt.  It was just not the best for our family, at least not now.
I may have some of kids use SL for high school!  I don’t know.  As I was just glancing at their website I thought that SL may be better for at least one of my children for high school because the reading amount seems to be less for literature and history.  That doesn’t mean it’s less stringent or that they won’t learn enough.
If you are just starting out I recommend that you start with Sonlight and then change to TOG in about 5th grade.  That way they will get two cycles of history in 8 years with TOG.  I may do that with my youngest child because I really loved those read-a-louds in SL for the younger students.  Really, it’s about me, I'm the one who wants to read those books again.  


  1. I've heard about TOG but didn't know much about it. Thanks for sharing your experiences. It sounds really good. We used My Father's World. Enjoyed visiting here! Blessings to you!

  2. One load of sheets in ... watched the Battle of Flowers Parade ... ate pot luck lunch ... gonna go the the outside pool, watch a little TV. Saw Luke and Josh cleaning portapotties. Did a bunch of email and prayed for my beuatiful wife! Window fixed in kitchen as well! Yeeh!

  3. I've heard of parents using sonlight for elementary and middle school, then Tapestry of Grace for High School. I'm sure one could also use Sonlight in High School and supplement history and literature to get a full cycle.

  4. Hi Francesco, I am so glad to 'hear' you say that you've heard of parents using SL and TOG that way! That also sounds like a great plan!