I wrote a post here http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/02/14/is-it-too-late/ entitled “Is It Too Late?” about parents who are trying to implement a Waldorf approach to life and homeschooling with children who are six and under.
This begged the question from one reader about what to do and how to approach the seven, eight, and nine year old crowd.
I do think some of the principles are the same, and some of the principles are different simply because the seven, eight, and nine year olds are in a different seven- year cycle than a five or six year old.
Some things to think about, some from that previous post and some new:
Always start here: If you have had no rhythm at all, start small with consistent awake times, bedtimes, and meal times. Think foods made with your own hands and foods that are not far removed from what they really are….a whole apple as opposed to processed apple Pop-Tarts. Think about the amount of sugar, dyes, additives your children are ingesting and work hard to limit those substances.
2. Set up some areas within your home for artwork, woodworking. Start with being outside a lot alternating with periods of working with hands. Work on handwork yourself in the afternoon for a few hours each day and show your child.
3. I feel strongly that a child of this age, while it should be the beginning of real explanations and such, may still need less words and worry. Try hard not to discuss world politics or stressful family things in front of this child. This child was in his head before his time, and while you cannot perhaps go completely back, you can keep from progressing things too rapidly forward.
4. This child needs HOURS a day outside to just be without much comment or fuss. Natural landscapes with experiences in all kinds of weather.
6. No media. No media at all during this transformation. No screens. And model good behavior by cutting down on your screen time…can you do it?
7. Plan some fun FAMILY activities with you, your partner, your child, siblings. Sometimes these often serious and tense children need to see that, indeed, the family can have fun and laugh together. It does not have to be something over the top and expensive – plan something like going hiking, roller skating, ice skating, planting a garden together, star watching. Also do some projects around the house together so your child can see how a family works and plays together.
9. Start working within yourself to be the change for the things you want to see in your family. You set the tone for things in your family, you have a choice as to how you respond to things. You don’t need to nag your partner about all this, but instead model, show, demonstrate, love.
WHAT STEINER FELT WAS IMPORTANT FOR THE FIRST PART OF THE SECOND SEVEN YEAR CYCLE: (From Soul Economy, “Children From the Seventh to the Tenth Year”)
Because of the development of the ether body, the children are now working in the ‘rhythms of breathing and circulation.” “Children now have a strong desire to experience the emerging life of soul and spirit on waves of rhythm and beat within the body – quite subconsciously, of course.” We are still working within the will.
Children aged 7 to 9 are beginning to differentiate themselves from others; up until the seventh year they really feel they are directly connected with others. The beginning of separation the 7 to 9 year old feels really shows itself with them longing to be around the adult and to have strong feeling for authority. Steiner felt the need for authority was an inborn need at this age. He said, “When we say “authority” however, we mean children’s natural response to a teacher- never enforced authority.”
Steiner felt the gratitude that must be fostered in the early years is the first mood of the soul. Love is the second mood of the soul, and he felt that needed to be nurtured in moral and religious life. “We can provide a firm foundation for this kind of love by helping children make a gradual transition from the stage of imitation and authority, in the ninth or tenth year, to a genuine feeling of love for their teachers, whose bearing and general behavior at school must naturally warrant it.” He goes on to say, “We often hear the admonition to love our neighbor as ourselves, and God above everything, yet we see little evidence of it. Life at school should try to assure that such things are not just talked about but become infused with new life.”
I have a previous post that may also be of service to you: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2008/12/20/the-seven-to-fourteen-year-old/
For those of you with children on the brink of the nine-year-old change, I strongly recommend you read this article: http://www.waldorfinthehome.org/2005/01/parenting_the_nine_year_old.html
Waldorf is so healing for the whole family; it is never too late to look at what your child needs and fulfill that.
Wishing you love on your journey,