Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Tapestry on a Tuesday {Myth-busters - Part 2}

The next "myth" that the folks at Tapestry of Grace are seeking to dispel, is this...

"Everyone says Tapestry of Grace is expensive to use"

Now, this is a fairly subjective question, in many regards. What IS expensive?

I can firstly tell you from my perspective.

We used to use ACE curriculum.  It is by no means the cheapest curriculum out there, in fact, it's quite costly.  You pay for each student workbook, as they are consumable.  The score keys are non-consumable, so there is a little saving on that.  For a large family, the cost was starting to mount, even with only ever having three using it at once, before we ended our time with it.

When I was researching a new curriculum, I was coming from the standpoint of someone who was used to expense.  Pretty much anything was going to be a saving!

For me, the main financial attraction toward TOG is the fact that it only gets CHEAPER as you use it, due to the cyclical nature of it.

Let me break down the cost for you.

Initially, you need to be buy the curriculum.  There are three options available.  Digital, print, or both.  I went for digital, as an International customer, because it was virtually instant delivery, and no expensive shipping! The print version is pretty heavy, so shudder to think of the expense of getting it over to this side of the Atlantic!  I love digital formats.

The digital only version is $170 per year plan, print is $295, and both is $315.  As always, this works out better for us on the $-£ exchange. Whoppee-doo!  Now, bear in mind, once you have it, you HAVE it! If you plan to use this for many years, and for several children, it's GREAT value! One fab bonus of the print is that you can view it all on up-to-date Apple and Android products! I regularly pull it up on the iPad to reference things.

Next, you have the option to add on various products. I will tell you about the ones I consider the most useful - the rest you can find over at the Buying Guide. Firstly, there is MapAids, which is $25 per year plan. Again, like the main curriculum, once you have it, you have it. It has all the maps you need to print and use on the way through.  Then you have Writing Aids.  This is a complete writing programme, which includes elements of grammar, as well. It has 12 levels you can work through, and is very thorough. It is not at all ESSENTIAL, but having a writing programme that dovetails with the rest of TOG is just lovely! It is $40 for digital, and covers your entire 4 years. Next, there is the option of lapbook templates.  These are invaluable if you have learners who love this format, but not, of course, essential. They are $75 for a year. Then there are evaluations.  These are great for reviewing what the child has learned, and I use them more as an extra worksheet, rather than an evaluation. I didn't use them my first few years, but after someone else pointed out their usefulness, I added them on. (oh, another bonus - adding things on when it suits!) They are $15 per year, per LEVEL (4 levels), or $50 for all four levels.

There are a few other options of add-ons, which, in my opinion, are even less essential, especially if you are on a budget. You'll learn more about them at the buying guide.

In my opinion, you want to at least get the MapAids, and then WritingAids and Evaluations are next in line. If you got all of those, it would be around $250 (around £160) for the first year (maybe a bit more, depending on how many levels you were getting for the Evaluations.  Obviously more if you add on every element available. Now, when you consider that this is for multiple levels of learners, and you won't pay for year 1 EVER again, then it's not bad value at all.

The next thing you will need is the books.  TOG has a reading list, with the primary books you will need.  They also provide a secondary list, but these titles will not be referenced in your reading schedule every week, so you'll have to hunt for the content you need in these.  You can, of course, buy these books.  I have managed to find nearly all of them over here in the UK.  All of them are available directly from Bookshelf Central, TOG's book store.  You can also find most of them second hand, on sites such as Amazon.  Additionally, you can get many of them in the library system.  There are many ways in which you could also make this cheaper, including borrowing them from someone you know who has them, who also uses TOG.  The one major thing, which benefits people with multiple children, especially over a wide age range, is that the books will also be used again! I have taken great joy in coming back to year 1, and already having all the Lower Grammar level books.  For Year 2 onwards, I also have all the Upper Grammar books.  This year, I am having to add Upper Grammar and Dialectic books, so next time around I will only have Rhetoric to buy. Of course, it's ONLY the books I need this year, as the curriculum was bought first time around! That's making it so much cheaper, which is fabaroony!

One of the other fabulous reasons to BUY the books you need, is the excellent quality, detail, and range of books they use.  My children take great delight in picking them up and looking at them when we are not even studying that era of history.  The literature titles, in particular, especially the picture books in lower levels, are a pure joy! Brilliantly chosen, in my humble opinion.

You will want to add science, maths, English, and any other subjects you consider to be vital.  Those, of course, can be obtained as cheaply or as costly as you wish.

My summation is this - there is a reasonable amount of cost involved in the purchase of TOG.  You can spread the cost of certain elements, if you need to, which is a plus.  The next benefit is the fact that when you come round to use it again, the costs are far reduced.  Then you only need to find or purchase the books which you use with the curriculum.  Are there cheaper curricula available? Yes, of course! Are they as thorough, detailed, delightful to use, and multi-faceted in their options of learning styles you can use? I doubt it.  Then, I AM biased, being a sold out user of TOG. It's worth every penny, to have such a well planned, full of detail, Christ-centred curriculum, with a whole ton of support and encouragement from staff and other users.  I have made so many wonderful online friends through it, who have blessed and encouraged me in ways that money could never buy, and for which I will ever be thankful to the Lord for.

If you want to read a far  more detailed break down of the costs and value for money of TOG, go over to their Mythbuster post here.

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