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Introduction to Letters

Introduction to Letters by Tristan 2006

The first block of Language Arts in first grade, is wonderful. In fact it’s what really drew me towards this imaginative education. The enthusiasm of a 61/2 years old towards learning is so pure. My son Evan, being the second child, had grown up watching and copying everything his big brother Tristan was doing. I did no formal schooling with Evan before this date like I had with Tristan.

K for king, Q for Queen, P for Prince and W for Wise Woman by Tristan 2006

Tristan had spent one year in daycare at the age of two, then he did 2 years of preschool. Being a former preschool teacher myself,  I had worked at two places, an academically driven Montessori school and an educational Preschool. My knowledge of what children should learn was very mainstream. My class of 3 and 4 years old, were learning the alphabet, writing their names, counting out loud and on paper numbers 1 through 10, they had introductory computer lessons, and science fair projects. Honestly, I think back at those days, and I regret that I had not been exposed to Waldorf at that time.

Rapunzel, the letter R by Evan 2010

Intuitively, I practicised a lot of Waldorf ideology, like the circle games, nursery rhymes and fairy tales. Part of my requirements as a teacher was to prepare thematic units for each month, stories, songs and hands-on activities, which allowed for a more personal impact. I mostly chose themes that I felt were important for the children, some were based on the emerging self of that particular age and others were about  the relationship they should develop with the natural world by exploring it hands-on through various outings, crafts, handwork and gardenning. It was important that they felt a reverence and awe about the beauty and magic that surrounded them.  More importantly, I prepared thematic corners, and allowed a big amount of free play, just to let the children explore the classroom as they pleased. So when I discovered Waldorf, it spoke to me on a soul level, I truly understood it.

The prince’s journey, B for Bear, F for Fawn and U for concern by Tristan 2006

When we had decided to try homeschooling Tristan for kindergarten, he had already been exposed to so many academic notions before the age of 5.  We had bought a traditional kindergarten program and started out with all the path tracings and letter tracings, the Language Arts program was designed with. Sure enough, because of his early exposure, he had lost that beautiful spark that each child has coming into the world, the thirst for knowledge. Many, many tears both from he and myself, were tainting our ideology of homeschooling. By the end of kindergarten, I had to find a different route if I were to continue on this path of learning. After many hours surfing the net, I had remembered a friend’s remark that dated back to ’98; aka before having my own children, he had suggested because of my background in art and children, a wonderful artistic school called Waldorf, nestled in the Okanagan Valley, where we were living at the time. It came back to me in 2005, when I was searching for alternatives. It’s a known fact that there is a 7 year period prior to change, and our whole body regenerates every 7 years.  It’s no coincidence that it took 7 years for the first mention of Waldorf to simmer internally and finally manifest itself externally.

The prince’s journey, B for Bear, F for Fish and U for concern by Evan 2010

I searched forums and seeked other families who had already adopted this form of education.  There were three distinct programs available at that time. Oak Meadow, Live Education and Christopherus Homeschool. Reading the personal reviews on all of them, I had decided to go with the newly established Christopherus. Donna Simmons spoke to me on a personal level. She seemed to understand exactly what I was living, she had been there. Her program seemed very clear and easy to understand but most importantly not too dogmatic. Rudolph Steiner was a visionary and he understood humanity. What I came to understand of this exceptional man, is he wanted us to seek ones own path to the spiritual realm and not to follow in his footsteps.  We are all spiritual beings, and we all have access to the universal energy. I would greatly recommend Donna Simmon’s program, in fact I have placed a link  on the left-hand side, under beautiful Waldorf sites, to connect directly with her.

Letter Characters we had met by Tristan 2006

Her first block starts out with a story, a journey, a soul journey that a young prince must take in order to understand how to rule with kindness and care. He sets off with the Wise Woman of the World of Waves, see the emphasis on the letter W, to understand and acquire the proper emotions to be a good ruler. The story is on going throughout  the 4 weeks of this block. By meeting all sorts of people, heroins, overcoming obstacles, and acquiring deep felt emotions which are categorized as the 5 vowels, A for Awe, E for fear, O for understanding, U for concern, and finally I for the balanced emerged ego.

Now I know my ABC’S~Watercolour by Evan 2010

It is a wonderful way to learn the alphabet, after resisting his kindergarten lessons, Tristan completely absorb the first grade stories that were told. Evan, was so eager to take on school, to be just like his brother, and have Main lessons books done completely by him. It has been very easy with Evan!

I will be placing Tristan’s past work along side Evan’s present ones. This way you can see an evolution in the lessons offered. Since Waldorf should never remain stagnant, it should continuously evolve. So from one child to a next, from one year to a next, no two should be alike❤️

First sentence that ends the journey by Evan 2010

 


2 Responses to Introduction to Letters

  1. JF

    thank you, this is beautiful! so glad to hear that Tristan and Evan are absorbing this way of learning, great job to you!

    i have wanted to use this Alphabet Story of the prince and the wise woman before, but i CANNOT find just the story or just the block. in the Christopherus site, it looks like i have to buy the whole curriculum! i have already bought full curricula (kinder, G1, G2) from another source… but i really like to do this Alphabet Story.

    can you please advise how i can get this story without having to re-buy a whole curriculum? thank you!

    warm regards,
    JF

    • Stephanie

      Hi JF,
      Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and sorry about the delay of reply we just got reconnected to the internet yesterday, we’ve been busy building our new home over the summer.

      The Alphabet story is wonderful, it was created by Donna Simmons for her grade one curriculum. I’m not too sure where you’d be able to get it without setting your hands on the curriculum itself (perhaps your nearby homeschool coop!), but I can give you a basic idea of how she created the story and maybe this will help. I believe she made up a loose outline for her main characters to carry out for 4 weeks, meeting 8 letters a week, some weeks there are only 6 letters making up the 26 letters of the alphabet. Her outline is based on a King, a Queen, a Prince and a Wise Woman, whom the latter takes the journey with the Prince. He is to meet “letter” characters through mini-stories that happen to pop up throughout the main story. Like for example the Golden Goose, the Juggling Jester, the Lovely Lady in the Lavender dress, characters that stand out phonetically throughout the story. Donna also incorporates places that are phonetic, the Majestic, Marvelous, Mountain, the forest with Tremendously,Tall, Trees where the Prince spots the Big Brown Bear and the Friendly Fawn. I believe in order to add to her basic outline she also took inspiration in classic fairy tales, the letter S is based on a Grimm’s Tale of the Six Brothers who are turned into swans by their evil mother. I’m hoping this helps a little, don’t be afraid to make one up, the order of the letters is not important, we started off with K, Q,P and W for day 1 and day 2. Then visited G, J and “O” for day 3 and 4. Remember to emphasize the emotions the heroin feels throughout the story when introducing the vowels keeping their sound ‘long’ for now, in grade 2 you’ll be visiting the ‘short’ ones. The represented emotions are A for Awe, E for fear, O for understanding, U for concern, and finally I for the balanced emerged ego. Keep the ‘I’ for last. Donna suggested placing the vowels on special golden stars that the Wise Woman hands over to the “Prince” once he’s acquired their knowledge (parent handing the real star to your child).

      Trust in yourself, all the best to you!
      Stephanie

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