Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

I had to update the post, because I found this pretty fascinating.

I was thinking how expensive homeschooling is vs. public schooling. And honestly? I resent it a bit. But you know, I got to thinking, it is so very similar to the decision a family makes when they choose to put their children in a religious, private school. I graduated from a private Catholic high school in small town Iowa.

So, after I got to adding up all the numbers from the previous post, and obviously, was deeply sympathetic to myself, 😉 I decided to put it in perspective.

So, I called a small town Iowa private elementary school, not far from where I went to high school.
The cost of a fourth grader to attend elementary school per year?

I tried calling the high school as well, but they were unavailable. Last time I was aware, the annual tuition was right around $2,400, if I remember correctly.

And keep in mind that if I pay tuition for my oldest, they do not, the next year say, “Gosh, well we purchased all these books, so we can reduce your second and third child’s tuition.” Of course not. That wouldn’t be feasible. They have significant operating expenses.

I think private education is one of those decisions that a family sits down and makes after truly weighing the pros and cons and the priorities they’ve set for their families.

Are we as homeschoolers any different?

We do not homeschool because we are opposed to private or public school. We have family members who teach, and gosh, my major in college was English (yes, sadly, it is true) with the intention of teaching high school English. This, by the way, does NOT give you an excuse to nitpick my grammar.

We homeschool because at the end of the day, our family is our greatest priority and we see homeschooling as a way to impress upon our children that our God, our family, and our political beliefs come before sports, before peers, and before all other things. Do I believe that parents who enroll their children in public school do not have these priorities? That’s not what I’m saying! For the record, for OUR family, homeschooling is the most practical way for US to instill the values we hold dear.

So, what’s that worth? Is it worth dial-up? Switching from cable internet to dial up will save you approximately $30 per month at $360 per year. Is it worth foregoing completely? That would save, if you were me, $50 per month, or $600 per year.

Other families don’t have the luxuries to give up at all. They’ll have to find a way to educate their children through other means – utilizing the library, utilizing online sites like Ambleside, writing their own curriculum.

My goal in the previous post was to weigh the two curriculums I find most attractive. But I don’t want to hint that they are not worth the cost. It is not affordable to everyone, but it doesn’t mean the value is less. And when I compare the expense of a private school education for one year, vs. the cost of an outstanding curriculum and the fact that I then OWN the books and can use them for my other children, the cost is very reasonable.

It’s also possible that ya’all won’t find this nearly as fascinating as I did, lol. Ah well.

The battle begins.  OK, I couldn’t resist.  I need to get this all down on paper, er, cyberspace, so I can think out loud and list my reasons… And then let someone convince me one way or the other.

Let it be said, that I have tried Sonlight.  It was a year and a half ago when  I tried three cores all at once.  I actually did ALL the reading aloud.  It was utterly overwhelming.  Now, granted, I was running True Vine at the time and I was just plain burnt out.  No sleep will do that.  😉

Tapestry Perks:

1. Obviously it’s literature based and that’s important to me.
2. Weekly plans/suggestions make for more relaxed homeschooling which fits well for our YOUNGER grades.
3. You can buy a unit at a time.  For us, that is infinitely more affordable.
4. The read alouds for Upper Grammar, Lower Grammar, and Dialectic are the same.  Which means when you are working with three separate levels, like me, you have one set of read alouds and the rest of the program is individualized.
5. When you buy one year of the CD/Loom, you’re buying all four levels.

Tapestry Drawbacks:

1. If you buy the binder it is a MASSIVE amount of paperwork to have around.
2. If you don’t buy the binder, you’re stuck printing it out yourself or using a CD and in this house I actually consider that dangerous.  What are the chances that CD is going to survive the next 15-20 years or so?
3. All the “sample” plans pictured on their site?  Yeah, those are NOT included.  What you essentially get is loose weekly suggestions/plans and then you need to put it together in what works for you.  Please notice I have this both under Perks and Drawbacks.
4. The price tag is a bit eye popping.
For example, Year 3
I get all four units, digital edition for the PC, the Loom, and then I chose for my Bundle, the Lapbook Kits, the Writing Aids, and the tab set.  I feel this would be the most compatible to what Sonlight offers with their Language Arts IG, their binders and tabs, et cetera.   This comes to a total of $312.  Not bad at all when you consider this will be four all four age spans, and no additional IGs to add later.  But the books needed to complete this come in at $644.  This brings the cost to do Year 2, all units, for Upper Grammar level, to $956.

You still need to add in science, math, grammar, and bible.  Now, granted, you could use The Bible.  Cost?  $0.  If you use their suggestions, it will go like this:

Science, following their suggestions: $41
Timelines – Sonlight includes theirs whereas Tapestry doesn’t and the price is very variant, but I’ll use Homeschool in the Woods packs as an example – $20
Grammar: Daily Grams workbook and TE – $30
Saxon as below: $60

For a grand total of $1,107.00  This assumes no cost for printing the actual lesson plans.

Sonlight Perks:

1. Their binders aren’t terribly thick or overwhelming.  They’re easy to care for and store.
2. Their lesson plans are completely idiot proof.  Each and every single day is completely and totally laid out for you.  Every page number, every dictation, every thing.
3. Great literature based program, just like Tapestry of Grace.
4. Readily found used if you want to save $$.
5. It’s very easy to assign credits after the fact.  After all, you have a very good record of what you did every day if you followed the lesson plans, so there is virtually nothing to keep track of.
6. By high school, it’s almost completely student directed.  It really puts the responsibility squarely on the child with parent accountability.  I love this.
7.  It’s actually fairly reasonable.  If we were looking at Christian’s age group (5th grade) we’d choose to do Level 3+4.  This level for the Instructor’s Guide, History, the Read-Alouds, the Readers, etc., is $434.

Sonlight Drawbacks:

1. It’s completely laid out.   Which does mean that if you skip a day, or a week, you might feel “behind” or otherwise pressured.  Notice that this is both under Perks and Drawbacks.
2. The cost is a little deceptive.  With the price tag of $434 it’s reasonable.  But, let’s add it all in.
Language Arts IG $34
Bible – $32
Science 4  ( Four day program) $184
Saxon Math Homeschool Edition – $60

Grand total of $744.00
What you see here is deceptive.  After all, the expense of a lot of this is in the Instructor’s Guides.  Which, let’s face it, is NON-consumable, which is fantastic.  Now, right off the bat Tapestry seems FAR more expensive.  But keep in mind that in each and every one of Sonlight’s levels, you’ll need new Instructor Guides.  That said, in Tapestry, you get four “IGs” – one for each year, but it contains the guides for Upper Grammar, Lower Grammar, Dialectic, and Rhetoric.

Important to note:

A comparison of one level to one level across the board is very unfair.  So, let’s go ahead and take that price tag of teaching a fourth grader and add in a 1st grader, only adding in the IG, books, and not the “extras” that we added for our 4th grader.

To add a Sonlight Complete Core 1 (5 Day program) – $335
To add Year 3, All Unit, Lower Grammar, without adding the shared Read Alouds – $652

Now obviously this ISN’T an across the board comparison.  Because, all things being equal, when you are adding it in, you’re getting different books, some are hardcover, some are paperback, they are different titles, they’re different authors, just plain DIFFERENT.  I can say that they both have very strong selections.

The Sonlight 1 will add35 titles on your bookshelf.

Tapestry will add 93 books to your collection for the Lower Grammar Year 3 Unit 3.

So, think about that too.  Yes, you’re adding a significant cost to get Tapestry.  But you’re also getting a massive amount of books for the money.

And obviously, it can’t come down to JUST money.   Much of it is whether or not it’s a good fit for your family.

I’m going to be honest.  I have no idea how we’ll ever cough up the $$ to do TOG.  My guess is, thanks to their Unit by Unit option, we’ll buy one unit at a time, look for the books used, utilize the library, and buy which books we HAVE to have new as that last resort to make it work.  I really think, even after doing all the calculations, TOG is far more adjustable for the Upper Grammar and Lower Grammar grades when you need to combine children.

If I were to try to combine cores for my current 4th grader and current 1st grader, it would require a massive amount of tweaking.  I’d have to find books for one or the other that was both age appropriate and fit with our current read alouds and discussion topics.  Tapestry completely solved this problem by having all ages utilize the same topics, all ages utilize the same read aloud, thereby saving Mom an awful lot of planning and time.

However, I will say, when it comes to high school, I love Sonlight’s laid out IGs.  And, when it comes down to the fact that Mom’s hands are going to be more free with a high schooler, I can’t help but think for less $$, Sonlight makes more sense.  It’s far more detailed in instruction for a teen.  And this is an age when I wouldn’t try to combine anyway.  At least in my case, my teen prefers to work independently so combining lower grades with her is a non-issue.


Strangely, when I put it all down, I’m “for” both curriculums.  Using each in their place.  And I really thought when I did the math, I wouldn’t be able to justify buying Ana a separate curriculum (Sonlight Core 100) when I already was going to purchase Tapestry’s DE for the other kids.  But, what I found out is that, all that aside, there isn’t much of a $$ difference with that figured in.  And for the ease of her use, Sonlight makes sense for her, whereas for MY ease of use with several youngers, Tapestry makes more sense for them.

I’d love to give you a deep & meaningful post this morning, but frankly, my brain can’t handle it.  Our well is going bad.  This farm life we love so much is seriously compromised at this point.  While, blessedly for us, we rent, at the same time we do not know whether our landlord will want to sink $10K into a new well.  Sigh.  That was something.

Added to the fact that I am torturing myself over whether to do Tapestry of Grace or Sonlight for Ana’s next year of schooling and my poor, addled, brain is just overloaded.  Take mercy on me.  So, here’s a snippet of a thoughtless post for your amusement and entertainment… But at least it’s useful!  Have  a good day!

P.S.  By the way, should anyone want to argue the case of Tapestry vs. Sonlight for HIGH SCHOOL, I’d love to hear it.  For me, I have a definite preference of Tapestry for the younger grades.  But as it will cost just as much to purchase the Tapestry books to add on Rhetoric as it would to buy Core 100 of Sonlight, but will require more planning on my part, I’m sorely tempted towards Sonlight for high school.  When responding, do please keep in mind that this next school year we will have Ana working on her first high school credits, one in 5th grade, one in 2nd grade, one in K/1st, one in PreK/K, one 3 year old, one toddler, and a newborn.  I have pieced together my own curriculum for years and now I desperately NEED someone else to do it.   Which leaves me to  wonder how in the world Michelle Duggar manages to run her household.

Garage Sales – Love ’em. But as any cloth diapering mama knows, onesies and cloth – well, they don’t work so great together. For one, I really like to let her go coverless. For two, if I use wool, I don’t want to compress it or squish it with a onesie!
I don’t like them. And, unfortunately, as the general public tends to prefer ‘sposies, they go with those smooth snappin’ onesies. So, at garage sales, what can you find? One million onesies.

Now, WHY in the world it never occurred to me to alter the onesies, I can’t figure out. Today has been a lightbulb moment for me. Thank you!
Tutorial for those that need it: