I’ve been asked many times why I homeschool and being an independent homeschooler, what materials we use. I’ll answer question number one first: We homeschool because we love being the first ones to witness each of our child’s milestones. We relished hearing him sound out his letters for the first time, or when he discovered numbers or when he first said, “Tapeyoyd” to refer to the shape “trapezoid”. I still remember the first time he read and how his smile told me he was immensely enjoying knowing what to do with those letters and how to put them together. More than that, we homeschool because we felt this is God’s design–for parents not just to be caregivers of their children, but to ultimately be there their teachers. We teach them how to eat, talk, walk, say “please” and “thank you”, how to share…the academics are just natural extensions of the day-to-day lessons we already feel compelled to teach them. Values are integral to parenting, and when you have taken pains in instilling that in your family’s (take note: not just in your child) culture, teaching them academic lessons feels almost inevitable. We teach because we parent them. Or more accurately, we parent slash teach them. They go hand-in-hand. And lastly, and just as important, we homeschool because we love spending time with him. I cannot imagine our child being away from us for more than half a day, everyday 🙁 huhu. We check often with our son though, if he would like to try out a brick-and-mortar school since he’s increasingly enjoyed playtimes with friends. And he said that he prefers still prefers homeschool. We have enrolled him in music and theater arts classes, and bring him to playgroups as often as we could instead.
To answer number two, we use Five in a Row (FIAR), a literature-based curriculum that has brought us more than just academic excellence, it has given us a love for good books and reading. When we started with Before Five in a Row (BFIAR), I was completely taken with how it has made “homeschool” so natural for us. My son would get the book for the week from the bookshelf, bring it to me and cuddle to me (even now at five years old). Then, we’d read together and discuss the remarkable parts of the story-what made him laugh, and what he can relate with, then he’d ask questions and before we know it, we’re making our own books with it, or making an experiment, or looking something up on YouTube. Learning doesn’t feel contrived at all. And what I appreciate are the books that are just so easy to love. The stories are timeless, beautiful tales that impart unforgettable characters and character-building conflicts and values.
Now, we are halfway done with FIAR Volume 1. We like to take our time with each book-always extending beyond the five days prescribed in reading and learning it. We have supplemented our program with Language and Math workbooks, simply because our son enjoys doing workbooks (thank God as I’m not a very crafty mommy).
I’m happy with this program we’ve put together because it helped instill in my son a love for learning and good storytelling. He has been making his own books since he was three years old. And he’s a natural at developing characters on his own. FIAR’s characters have also helped us in our discipline methods as there are complex characters that go through a wide range of emotions, illustrating to my child better how to face a myriad of feelings and how to conquer them, when necessary. He learned how not to fear discipline through Ping in “A Story about Ping”, how uneasiness can be a sign that we’re doing something wrong in “A Pair of Red Clogs”, and how a person’s freedom is a God-given right in “Who Owns the Sun?”
BOur son discovered the different parts of a book, as well as the realities of human life and relationships, through a program that aimed at promoting and nurturing quality time between parent and child with the aid of good literature. Love is the seed from which this program will grow and succeed, and love is also the fruit.
While we may consider other curriculum as our son grows, I have already started to plastic-wrap our BFIAR and FIAR materials, because I know we will use these again for our second child, and any other child God will put under our care.