Beyond Five in a Row (BFIAR)
Monday, March 23, 2009
So… I must admit…. I had a preconceived idea that I would not like this curriculum, Beyond Five in a Row -volume 1. I never have used it. I do like a literature approach, however, both the name and the way the program had been described to me think it must be a "light" curriculum. I did not get how do stretch out a book or books and adequately cover all the areas of study?
Well, I was pleasantly surprised to find this to be one of the easier curriculums to review. The books were easy to locate, the suggestions of what else to study and how to go about it was clear. The guide truly guided me as a parent. I did not feel stressed out or pressured to do everything.
The age range was for 8 - 12 years old. That was an issue for me. The kids I teach in that range would not have benefitted from working through this curriculum. I intended to do at least some of it with them. Instead, I modified it to use with my 7 year old son, 5 yo son and 5 yo girl I teach as well as my 4 yo. I did not expect my 4 yo to really follow along because she hasn't shown much interest in the past. However, she LOVED the books we read and really got into this.
I do think 7 - 10 or 11 would be more fitting for this course. However, I would need to do all the activities to really make a judgment about that.
My kids really enjoyed this and so did I. In fact, for the younger ages, I found it to be a lot less stressful than what I had been using. I plan on starting this and using this in depth and completely next year. For now, I only started one book because that is what we had.
The opportunity to review Beyond Five in a Row has changed my mind completely about this program. In fact, if I didn't already have (and love!) the books and materials for my current literature based study, I would probably have used this for my kids up until age 10 or so. Their love of learning approach is very much in line with the way I believe a child will learn best. I also believe if a child loves to read and has the skills in place for reading, then he/she can accomplish just about anything academically!
Best of all, each of the 3 BFIAR volumes are only $24.95. I might even consider breaking up my school year so I can do a unit of these studies interspersed with my other course of study. The Five in a Row website is great, too. I was really impressed by the simplicity. In a day and age when simplicity is lost and where children are being overwhelmed this company offers a relaxed approach that I felt was still complete in its scope. In fact, the guide points out what areas each activity covers.
My only problem with the curriculum came from my own need to have everything prepared and ready to go. I often do not look far enough ahead. However, with only a little bit of planning, I could have done ahead and organized the needed supplies for much of the suggested projects. This might be a problem for missionaries or others abroad who might wish to use this curriculum. There is an option to buy the main books used in the study as a collection.