Stages, not Ages.

TAPESTRY of GRACE presents material by learning level rather than grade level. This aligns with principles of classical education, as outlined in The Lost Tools of Learning, by Dorothy Sayers.

Sayers explained that a classical education provided students the tools of learning. Classical education taught students how to learn, not just what to learn. It accomplished this by teaching students the grammar of a subject, then the dialectic (or logic) of a subject, and then finally the rhetoric of a subject that enabled the student to persuasively express their own original thoughts.

These three stages of learning — grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric — align well with major stages of child development. Because each student is an individual, these stages of development may occur at different times. As homeschool parents, we have the opportunity to know our children and sequence their educational material when they are ready for it.

Dorothy Sayers envisioned the grammar stage beginning once the students could already read and write. Since our program is for families with students as young as kindergarten, we separate the grammar stage into two parts.

Lower grammar addresses the needs of students who are learning to read.

Upper grammar serves students who are reading to learn.

Here is how our four learning levels align with traditional grades. Again, your results may vary, and you are best equipped to understand your student. In TAPESTRY, we provide a flexible program that meets you wherever you are along the way.

TAPESTRY of GRACE Learning Levels

The Grammar Stage

Students at this stage of learning are generally in the pre-puberty elementary school years. At this age, they delight in learning about the world they live in. Their minds seem to be like sponges as they soak up details. Memorization comes easily to them. At this age, students often enjoy hands-on projects. What Kathy Lee says of preschoolers is true of these students — Learning should “be in the hands to be in the head.” While students are absorbing a tremendous amount at this age, they are not looking for their information to be structured in frameworks, as adult learners prefer.

In TAPESTRY, we emphasize reading whole books and doing hands-on projects for Grammar students. While kids don’t expect organized frameworks for their information, they love stories. We have found what so many already know — stories are a great way to learn! By presenting information in the context of the story of history, we help our students widen the worlds they live in, gaining an understanding of how people have lived through the years. It’s fun!

We separate the grammar stage into Lower Grammar (learning to read) and Upper Grammar (reading to learn). In our Lower Grammar assignments, we expect the teacher to be doing read-aloud, or for beginning readers to read very basic books. The reading assignments are, as a result, more basic and taken from beautiful, engaging books. In our Upper Grammar assignments, we begin to add more challenge, but retain a high picture-to-text ratio in the assigned books, keeping the interest of younger readers.

Parents should assess when their children are able to handle the more challenging Upper Grammar assignments. In general, Upper Grammar assignments are targeted toward a 5th-6th grade reading level. Thanks to the flexibility in TAPESTRY, you can make these decisions can be made week by week or book by book, as it best suits your student.

The Dialectic Stage

The advent of the dialectic stage usually corresponds with the onset of puberty. As your child physically develops, their brains grow too. Where students were previously content to learn facts without context, their growing minds now begin to try to make sense of the world they live in. Dialectic students seek black-and-white categories and dislike shades of meaning.

In TAPESTRY, we emphasize the study of these categories and the making of connections as we journey through the landscape of history. Through the use of comparison and contrast and the introduction of more in-depth discussions, we invite students to discuss and debate what they are learning. Our Teacher’s Notes and Discussion Scripts are a great help for you, as you prepare for these discussions.

Parents assess when their children enter the dialectic stage of learning. Generally, an increased interest in argumentation and precision of categories can be a signal. Do they want to argue about everything? Give them an outlet with TAPESTRY discussions.

The Rhetoric Stage

As the raging hormones of puberty subside and moderate, our students enter young adulthood. While lacking experience, they are now equipped to think and function as adults. Indeed, as a adults, we might all considered to be in the rhetoric stage of development. The age at which this happens may vary. Generally, we assign rhetoric level material to students entering 9th grade.

At this stage of learning, students are often interested in self-identification and are grappling with the huge questions of life. Who am I? Why am I here? These questions have been part of the human experience for every generation, and our children are no exception. In TAPESTRY, we delight in the ability to give hungry minds real, substantive discussions of these questions through the lens of an authentically biblical worldview. Again, our Teacher’s Notes and Discussion Scripts equip you to lead your student as the read broadly, think deeply, and write clearly about what they are learning.

The focus of the rhetoric stage is on mastering the ability to analyze information, synthesize ideas to form defensible opinions, and communicate these thoughts persuasively. Analysis, synthesis, and communication skills benefit students in any walk of life. By honing these skills while grappling with the great questions of life and studying the thoughts of those who have come before us, our goal is to provide students with a heart of wisdom.

By organizing our curriculum along these learning levels, we enable the whole family to learn together!

Back to Our Plans of Study.