The beginning...

This fall we began our "official" homeschooling journey with Elisabeth as she began first grade. It has been such an exciting and eye-opening process for her, for me, and for our family as a whole. I am amazed -- truly, deeply amazed -- by her receptiveness to the little bit of school work we've begun, and by her ripeness to learn the things we've worked on. (She was so excited to begin, in fact, that on the first morning that we began school stuff, I heard her tell James -- in the early morning chatting that they do in their room before we all get started on the day -- "Guess what, Jamesy? Today I'm a first grader!")

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Our approach to homeschooling, at least as we begin, draws heavily on Waldorf education. One aspect of this particular educational philosophy that I really like is the approach to school readiness and literacy. Generally the alphabet is first formally introduced in first grade, and reading follows along with that. I have been excited to observe that in "waiting" until now to really delve into letters and their sounds (although she does basically know all of her letters in a casual way), that Elisabeth has really grasped them extremely quickly. And I really love that the first thing that she learns to read will be her own writing -- in a book that she has carefully and lovingly written and illustrated. 

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In these photos, Elisabeth is illustrating a page in her book about the letter "characters" we've been using to learn the alphabet and introduce phonics. (Q for Queen, K for King, and so on.) Her care is so inspiring to me in my own daily work. Thank you, little one, for being my greatest teacher.

{Our path to homeschooling -- and the Waldorf approach that we're trying -- is a somewhat winding one. My parents homeschooled us, using a "radical unschooling" approach, beginning when I was five. I loved my experience, but I did go through a time when I thought I would probably still send my kids to school. Later, when I was pregnant with Elisabeth, I had the opportunity to teach cello in a Waldorf school. Many elements of this particular mode of education were, and continue to be, very inspiring to me, although as a Christian, I do not agree with most elements of anthroposophy, its foundational philosophy. We've decided to try homeschooling with Waldorf for now, but I'm open to an unschooling approach, as well, since that is how I was raised. We're currently working with (and adapting to our needs) the first grade syllabus from Christopherus Homeschool Resources.}