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.

Thoughts?

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.

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