I frequently receive emails and messages asking about how we use “Five in a Row” (FIAR). Though I stray from it from time to time to follow my children’s interests, I still come back to it and do my best to find a book that I can connect to our lives. That is actually the beauty of FIAR – it really encourages families to explore and experience learning in their own way instead of tying them down to it.
For those of you who are just starting to use it, here are my answers to some of the questions that you may have. If there’s something else in your mind, feel free to leave your questions in the comments.
1. Is FIAR only for homeschooling families?
“Five in a Row” (and “Before Five in a Row”) for me is basically an inspirational educational material. While it is intended for the use of homeschooling families, those who want to cultivate a love of learning in their family can easily use it to supplement their child’s education.
2. Do you follow the order of the manuals and the books?
When we first started with FIAR, I wanted to read the books in the order that they are written in the manuals. I also wanted to go through the manuals from volume one to volume three.
However, I quickly realized that the best way to make the most out of FIAR is to choose a book according to what we can easily connect to our lives. For example, when I read a newspaper article about an upcoming flamenco concert, I knew that we just had to read “The Story of Ferdinand.” The book is set in Spain and is about a little bull that doesn’t want to be in bullfights.
3. Do you really read one book five days in a row? What if your child didn’t want to read the same book on the second or third day?
We try to read a book five days in a row, even if my daughter seems reluctant to do so. This is because we can really learn and talk about something new with each reading just like the manuals say.
There are times that my daughter absolutely refuses to read “that book again!” However, I’ve learned to make our story reading exciting – we would sing some books, listen to audio book versions, or even watch videos of some of the stories. More often than not, I would just say, “Oh, we’re going to talk about something exciting today that we didn’t see yesterday!”
4. Do you let your child read the FIAR books outside the context of your lessons?
Our FIAR books are on a high shelf. I want my kids to read each one for the first time with me, so they will be very eager and curious about it when we do read them together. However, I did not realize before that “The Tale of Peter Rabbit” is one of the FIAR books. I just put it with the rest of our books and my daughter got to read it again and again. By the time we were supposed to read it as part of our lessons, my daughter said that she was already tired of it. We ended up watching a YouTube video of the story and just talking about it. We didn’t have a full FIAR lesson for that, but that’s okay!
5. How do you incorporate Filipino?
Though the books are really wonderful, I find some of them to be too U.S.-centric. So, I always try to find a Philippine angle to each of the stories and then dedicate a separate week or two for each.
For example, we dedicated time to learn about World War II in the Philippines when we read the FIAR war-related books “A New Coat for Hanna”, “Grandfather’s Journey”, and “All The Secrets of the World.” When we read “Henry the Castaway,” which is about exploring and explorers, we took the time to learn about the “discovery” of the Philippines by Ferdinand Magellan. I made sure to read local books together with the FIAR books.
6. Does FIAR cover all subjects?
The FIAR manual says that math, reading, and writing need to be supplemented with other materials. So, for math, we use “Life of Fred” and Singapore Math, and for handwriting we use “Handwriting Without Tears.”
Language arts and social studies are more than adequately covered. But what I really love FIAR is that it helps children to love the pursuit of knowledge without the redundant worksheets. “Five in a Row” has taught me to make our own lessons, to make connections, and to really take note of what my kids are interested in. We learn so many things with the inspiration of FIAR, but we allow ourselves to go beyond FIAR.
7. Do you make lap books? Do you have to?
A lot of families make those beautiful lap books to preserve their work and memories. I tried making folders before but found it too tedious. We now just use a three-ring binder for any output that we may have. We don’t have output for each of our lessons, unless I print the photos of the activities that we have done and stick them there.
8. My child is about to turn 4 in a few months. Should we still go through BFIAR or can we go straight to FIAR?
From reading the comments in the FIAR Facebook group, I gathered that it is best to start with BFIAR, even if your child is already four years old and especially if you haven’t been reading regularly to your child. It can also serve as practice for you in thinking of activities related to books. It seems to me, too, that a child will get the most out of FIAR when she is a bit more mature. Our FIAR lessons are now much deeper compared to when we rowed our first book.
How do you use FIAR? If you have any more questions, feel free to write in the comments and I’ll update this post as soon as I can.