Monday, September 19, 2011

Before Five In a Row

I wish I had known about Five In a Row and Before Five In a Row when we were starting our developmental, relationship based, autism remediation intervention. BFIAR and FIAR are two little gems that I learned about late in the game, after I became an accidental homeschooler.

Before Five In A Row is a learning readiness guide. I hesitate to call it a program. The BFIAR author uses the term "little lessons".

The actual book, pictured above left, is a 150 page paperback priced at $35 that uses a couple dozen familiar, beloved childen's books (you borrow those from the library or purchase them separately at the retailer of your choice) in ways that offer "...a happy introduction to books, provide an interesting, light introduction to many different topics, and to build intimacy between the reader and child." (from page 3).

The parent's job is to use a story to build relationship between parent and child and between child and books / reading. And author Jane Claire Lambert and BFIAR give the parent the background and ideas to do just that. BFIAR is organized in two parts. The first part covers the children's books and activities. The second part is called, "Parent's Treasury of Creative Ideas for Learning Readiness" and covers activities (talking, listening, reading, poetry, hand games, singing, dancing, making music, drama); coordination; large motor skills; small motor skills; bath time; kitchen; store; toys; the arts; perspective taking.

I call the book a "guide" because Lambert doesn't give you a checklist of "must-do's". She gives you ideas, ways to use a story and not stop at simply reading text and turning pages. The parent gets to decide what to use, how much to do, when to move to the next story, when to return to a story previously enjoyed.

"Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?"; "Goodnight Moon"; "Caps for Sale"; The Snowy Day; "We're Going on a Bear Hunt"; "Corduroy"; "The Carrot Seed" are some of the story titles.

BFIAR takes one story at a time and gives parents a summary, a Bible verse, insight about how to use the story with a language arts emphasis, within the context of building loving relationships. BFIAR spotlights for parents colors, patterns, and combinations; offers fine arts and drama ideas; provides titles that are complimentary. BFIAR provides background and how-to on poetry and art for each story; 'can you find' search ideas; recognizing patterns; order; details; games; related science topics; shapes; sequencing; games; comparisons; tracking; problem solving - the list is long and you'll have to trust me that author Jane Claire Lambert has a strong grasp on how to grow pre-reading foundations through relationship.

I really like the emphasis on short, fun interactions. With my reluctant (developmentally delayed) reader, I have a tendency to push too far, too long, which works against my goals. Short. Simple. Positive. Fun.

Lambert knows the importance of sensory and movement for young children and gives us ideas we can incorporate along the way.

From a developmental perspective (keep in mind I am not a professional; I am a laymom), children need to experience patterns in life. Sensing patterns, the "same" in a changing world is really important to developing competence with change. Children who don't sense the patterns tend to be rigid and tend to not deal with uncertainty and change well. Lambert takes a story and shows parents how to use it multiple ways, how to make associations to parts of the story (self-to-text comparisons, text-to-self comparisons, text-to-text comparisons). She helps parents create a rhythm to reading, books, pre-literacy skills over time; and she spotlights patterns within books. Using existing patterns and creating new patterns is important to child development and Lambert knows and uses this well.

"Resist the temptation to try to create two-year-old professors you can be proud of." (page 4) When we had a child who lost interaction skills, we took a different approach, a behavioral approach instead of a relational one, and we created a one-sided professorish child who was a one-sided word machine who could not interact. At my house, we pushed reading and comprehension BEFORE building intimacy between reader and child. My child regressed into autism; we worked around the lack of interaction by ignoring it and pushing academics outside of developmental order.

We continue to focus more closely on "between the reader and the child" than we do on the text. My child still carries an aversion to trying to read. This is one of the areas I'd like to go back and do differently in terms of our autism intervention. I wish I'd understood how development plays out back then.

Yes, this is more of an informational review than a product that we opened and used as is. My girl is too 'big' for a lot of the books and activities as they are written, although I do pick up BFIAR for ideas and direction as we continue to go back in development and get pieces we missed in the regression and behavioral intervention days. The ideas and idea generation for me are excellent.

Whether you have a typically developing toddler (BFIAR is aimed at two-to-four year old children) or a developmentally delayed child who is not a toddler by age, BFIAR is worth your serious consideration. The lessons are fabulous - tailormade for a toddler or for an older child with developmental delays. I said it before, and I'll say it again. I wish I'd known about this company, this product, eight or nine years ago.

Before Five in a Row is available at Rainbow Resource here.

To read my Crewmates' review of BFIAR, please go here.

I was given a copy of Before Five In a Row to review for you. I get to keep the book. I was not paid for this review and am not obligated to provide a positive review.


poohder said...

This was the curriculum that finally convinced me that I COULD homeschool.

Leslie said...

We have been using this for many years now. (Started in 1997) I LOVE Five in a Row! Just starting to use some Before FIAR with Eliana. :-)

Thanks for your advice and the things you shared with me today! I appreciate hearing from you so much!


the Mcclanahan 7 said...

I didn't use these books with my kids but I know a lot of people in our homeschool group do. They sound very interesting.

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