Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Do you know about FIVE IN A ROW??

We love home education. It is such a wonderful blessing and has been, I believe, the glue that has held our family together during hard times. I don't mean just financially hard times like most people are facing these days. I mean the hard times of the combination of things that life throws our way. Hospitalizations, surgeries, births, sickness, taking care of elderly family members, etc. are just some of the things that have come our way. Our children have learned to do what needs to be done for the benefit of the whole family. They have learned to care for one another and at times, their parents. My oldest daughter can take care of this house as well as I can. My oldest son can take care of the yards alone if needed. They both can paint a room, lay tile, replace a toilet seat, and other minor things that need doing. They can prepare a meal.
These things are essentials in life. They can't get along in life without knowing how to do these things. There are many things they won't learn here at home but hopefully they will be able to function in a responsible way in their own homes.

When we first began our journey, we started out like many others with a packaged curricula that mimicked the way we learned in public school. My husband and I both attended public school so we didn't know any other method. We thought learning was that a teacher presented the material and the student did endless worksheets or problems to practice it and then took a test to show he mastered what was taught. This is a prescription for burnout in a home setting. Home is not school. But learning can take place at home. Fortunately for us, a friend introduced us to a great program called FIVE IN A ROW ( What is Five in a Row you ask? It is the creative genius of Jane Claire Lambert. She took her love of literature and her experience teaching and created a teaching tool that has changed lives. Five in a Row is a literature program that uses good quality children's literature as unit studies. There are 4 volumes of these units for ages 4-8 years old. This is how it works. You choose a story from the manual. You read the story each day for five days in a row, hence the name FIVE IN A ROW, and you choose learning activities for each day of the week. For example on Mondays you might do social studies and geography lessons. On Tuesdays, you would do language arts lessons. On Wednesdays, you would do art lessons. Thursdays would be practical math lessons day. And finally Friday would be science day. Mrs. Lambert has written the lessons for you in the manuals. All you have to have is the book to read to your child and the manual. To read a much better and more clear description than mine and to see some sample lessons check out this page:

Five in a Row made the difference in our home. I truly believe we wouldn't have made it this far(my oldest is in 9th grade) if we hadn't learned about Five in a Row when he was in kindergarten. Not only is it wonderful for the children, it has taught me HOW to be a teacher. Their website also has message boards where I have made wonderful friends over the years. We have laughed together, cried together, grieved with one another over losses, been silly with each other, been honest even when it hurt, and prayed for one another. Steve and Jane are a wonderful source of encouragement and support to those using Five and a Row not only for the logistics of using FIAR day to day but for the home educating lifestyle. Living on one income, marriage issues, spiritual issues, and just about anything you can think of that can happen are often discussed and thoughtful, loving counsel is given.

Steve Lambert has an encouragement blog for homeschoolers and even if you never use FIAR, you should really check it out. He posts daily doses of encouragement for the tough but very rewarding job of home education.

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