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Thread: Fitting it all in

  1. #1
    Dear All,
    I am just completing our 4th year of TOG, 2 of which with a R student. I love TOG so much and have learned so much, but I have a continual dilemma with the program. While I am super organized--each child gets a notebook each quarter with their work and I read teacher's notes, etc.--I am still having a hard time fitting things in. Notably, if we do all 4-5 hours of discussions per week (history, literature, church history and philosophy), my students do not have enough hours in the day to get the reading, charts and questions finished. This is creating huge problems for us and the children are starting to dread discussions, even though they are fun, because they perceive that they don't have enough time in the day. My children work longer at homeschool than anyone I know. We start early (7:30) and it's not unusual for them to work to dinner (with some small breaks).
    Also, the examinations add another hour to some weeks (we do not do them every week due to time). This gets tacked on top of the other work, and again creates problems in our schedules.
    Do you all just skip some of these discussions? I do not see how other TOG users have the time that I seem to lack. Often, I am unable to get to many discussion points as we simply run out of time. Literature is particularly hard as the scripts can take 2 hours if we do them thoroughly, especially with harder books like the Aeneid.
    By the way, my kids are amazing readers and hard workers. It's not that they are slow. We always finish all 36 weeks every year. However, now we are starting to have more homework on the weekends as well as full school days. It is difficult to have "full" lives (friends, extracurriculars, service) with our growing school load.
    Thanks for any suggestions...or for commiseration!

  2. #2
    Vice President
    Lampstand Press

    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Kingsport, TN
    Hi Tracy,
    I sounds like you are trying to use Tapestry to its fullest--which is a good thing! However, let me give you a few ideas that might help things a bit.

    *Don't require written answers to ALL of the Accountability and Thinking Questions. Pick and choose a few or even just suggest to your student to take notes on the questions that she might not remember come discussion time. When I had more than one student in dialectic or rhetoric levels at the same time, I gave one student the odds and one the evens. When I just had one student in a level, I usually let him omit a few in written form.

    *Consider combining history, church history, and philosophy into one discussion time. This is what we did and our total discussion time was usually around an hour on an average week.

    *I combined the Dialectic and Rhetoric History discussions. Of course they didn't each read the exact same thing, but personally I didn't have time to do both. Find the common elements in each discussion and then say "Susy, I know you also read about so and so...please share with us some interesting facts about him."

    *I read the Teacher's Notes while the students were doing their independent reading. If I had time, I tried to do it over the weekend, but most of the time that didn't work for me.

    *I limited Literature discussion to a half hour, but I had to pick and choose which points to discuss, obviously.

    *Since we weren't part of a co-op, we had History discussions right after lunch on Thursdays, and usually, Literature discussions first thing on Friday mornings.

    Hope this gives you a few ideas.

    Dana C. in TN
    Vice President
    Lampstand Press

    "Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew,
    like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants.
    I will proclaim the name of the Lord. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!"
    Deut. 32:2-4

  3. #3
    Dana makes some great points. I just finished my first year with an R after two years with D's only. Here are some things that help us.

    <UL TYPE=SQUARE>I use church history and philosophy as electives. Translation: we never do philosophy, and church history rarely. I do have my R students read missionary biographies, but more for their edification. Even if they read the church history, we never discuss it.

    <LI>When I am preparing for discussion, I print out the quiz for the week and highly utilize it when deciding which points to emphasize. If I think a point on the quiz is not so important, I'll eliminate it and perhaps eliminate it in discussion as well. I don't givethe quiz every week, but I almost always use it to guide my preparation.

    <LI>Usually we don't hit absolutely every point in the discussion. I'll ask the question, let them answer, and possibly give them the other points listed if I think they are important enough. Again, this is why I use the quizzes as my guide as to what is important.

    <LI>For literature discussions, we have found that the questions tend to talk about the same topics but from a different angle. For us, it seems that we'll discuss a topic, and when I get to the next question, it often is restating things that we just talked about in the question before. So I skip big chunks of this, as well. Because I have young R students, this lit was pretty difficult, so I did a lot of picking and choosing as to which topics we discussed. (Hopefully they will grow into this some in the coming years. . . )

    <LI>Just for a point of reference, our R lit discussions take no more than half an hour. I combine D and R history discussions, and it usually takes no more than an hour.

    <LI>Confession: I've only once this year had my student do the essay question on the weekly quiz/quarter exam. We do the rest but skip the essay. I'll probably start adding more of these as we go along, but certainly not every week.
    Hope this helps!

  4. #4
    Thank you both for your posts as they are very helpful. I am brainstorming now on how I can shorten things for this to be more bearable for all.

    One questions for Dana: since the Loom materials say that you need to do all AQs and TQs for a high school credit, how can you cut some out and still reward the credit? I guess my question is how can you judge that you are still offering a highschool level class when you cut out some of the work?


  5. #5
    While I'm not Dana, I think the loom says do them all for an Honors credit, and even then they can be oral or written. So you can definitely cut things to make it a regular credit. I just finished my 1st year of Tapestry. We did Year 2, and my rhetoric daughter did Honors History and Honors English. It was a ton of work, and we'll be changing things up for next year, so I understand where you're coming from. We did Church History and Philosophy as well. I won't be doing Church History this year with her, but we will be doing Government. I'm doing "Literature" instead of "English", changing out some books, and just having her write 1 paper every unit. I may not be doing history with her at all, or I will adapt it drastically to suit her interests.
    Remember that the curriculum is not the boss of you! (I've been homeschooling for ten years, and had to struggle to remember that this year.)
    I hope this made sense, and was at least slightly helpful.

  6. #6
    Hi Tracy,

    Your post sounds exactly like many of the discussions I've had about Rh TOG...some with my TOG friends, some just by myself!

    My daughter is starting her 4th year of TOG at the Rh level. We will finish with Yr4 and then she will have a fifth year of high school. That means she began TOG as an "8th" grader. Yes, she is ambitious and a very hard worker, just like your students!

    I will not lie. We both shed many tears our first year. We were trying to do it all. We pushed and pulled and worked SO hard that first year. She would OFTEN be working daily until dinner time with more reading after dinner. And weekends.

    I think the most important thing we did was to learn to not sweat the small stuff. She always tries to answer all the questions. She fills in all the charts. But sometimes her answers are a simple one-liner. Sometimes she comes to discussion and says honestly, "Mom, this is what I have and I did not have time to do xyz." Other times, many times, she just reads the discussion herself. One week we will do the literature discussion together. The next week we will do the history, etc. Three other kids at various ages keeps me hopping from dawn to bedtime and I cannot do it all.

    We have learned over the last three years that there are things we must let go of and not stress about anymore. My daughter is a rule follower and very diligent in her work. It shows in her test scores, etc. However, she can also allow the big picture to overwhelm her. We now work week by week without focusing on the entire unit or the entire year. We have only had to cut a few things as per the Loom chart, but life happens and I finally realized I cannot be a slave to our schooling.

    I just wanted you to know you are NOT alone. I still can't figure out how anyone doing TOG at the Rh level can have a part-time job, participate in several extra curricular activities and have a social life! We have to pick and choose in that respect also.

    I will say that I gave my daughter the option of stopping after Year 1. With tears in her eyes, she begged me to let her continue. As hard as it was for her, she loved the learning! We still shed tears every now and then. We still skip discussions sometimes. We still can't do it all. However, I truly believe she is getting one of the best high school educations out there.

    Chin up, my friend. I am here in the thick of it with you!

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