The seven-year-old is entering a new phase in life in many ways, and there are some specific ways that they need support from you as the parent:
- A seven-year-old still needs PROTECTION of their senses and of how much they are doing in any one day. A seven-year-old wants to do everything and anything, but as the Gesell Institute points out, a hallmark of the seven-year-old is fatigue. They need you to establish good bedtimes (7:30 is not too early for a busy seven-year-old!) and they need you to help them limit their activities.
- The Gesell Institute also mentions that many seven-year-olds with fall birthdays may not be ready for second grade at all. This is not typically a problem in the Waldorf curriculum due to most second graders should be close to eight in second grade, but do take heed if school is not going well.
- A seven-year-old needs PROTECTION from dry facts, boring teaching, and adult intellectualization. A seven-year-old is still not in the realm of logical thought. Steiner strongly felt this age should be taught through parables, stories, stories about great men and women (pretty forward thinking for that day and age, adding the “great women” in there!), and not providing dry conclusions of “this is the way it is”. His thought was this really stifled the thought process and independent judgment making that a teenager of aged 14 and up would go through at that time.
- Therefore, it goes without saying, your seven-year-old still does not need too much explanation about things. Simples explanation, yes, but still needs stories and analogies about things in life.
- Physical movement is still REALLY important, and I am not talking about organized sports. I am talking about PLAYING and being outside in nature where they create the games themselves. Seven-year-olds should still be playing! The Gesell Institute mentions that adult supervision is still important when they play because sevens become excited and wild which can often end in “destruction of material or personal altercation.” Also, be aware many seven-year-olds are not too compassionate of those they deem “different” and while they thrive on group praise per Gesell Institute, most sevens also do not seem to “need” friends the way they did when they were six.
- Steiner felt the most important things to provide this age outside of stories was showing the child through pictorial imagery that something exists above Man (his idea of showing the child the “supersensible” ), community and having a circle of people the child can trust is important, beauty, art, music and rhythm, the formation of good habits and the development of memory. If you would like more information on this, please refer to this post: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/17/inspirational-words-from-steiners-the-education-of-the-child-regarding-teaching-of-the-7-14-year-old/
- Seven-year-olds are more contained, quiet, and tend to cry easily “at any, every, or even no provocation.” Be careful becoming irritable or critical of the people a seven-year-old says is picking on them or hates them….Sevens rather like being gloomy and complaining. Try not to take it too seriously, unless you really do think it is a bullying issue at school or something else more serious. However, not taking it too seriously does not mean you do not treat the complaints that no one likes me, etc, etc as if they are real. The feelings are real to your child! So, don’t get dragged too far into it all, but also acknowledge how your child feels.
- Seven-year-olds think about death, dying, killing, violence. This is why the archetypal fairy tales found in the Waldorf curriculum are wonderful for this age. Take all the wild talk calmly! You can sometimes say something to the effect that children think these things, but add in that, “Of course we wouldn’t do that here in our house.”
- If your child is rude, please do be calm. Treat the rudeness in the matter-of-fact manner as you would any other bad behavior.
- A seven-year-old is likely to be fearful of many things; again, these feelings are real to the child so you can be sympathetic and compassionate without being completely dragged into it all. Don’t YOU be frightened of your child’s fears; that provides the child no sense of security at all!
- Know that a seven-year-old still will most likely touch, manipulate and play with anything that catches their eye.
- Most sevens are procrastinators, have short memory spans per Gesell (which makes perfect sense to we Waldorf people that memory is forming and being placed into play as something important now); they have a tendency to get very distracted easily. Sevens also try to be perfect and need reminding that no one is perfect or should be perfect.
- Help your child take mistakes as calmly as possible, and if possible how to laugh at themselves a bit when they do make a mistake. Help your child to work toward best effort as an achievement and not the whole win-lose thing. Stories that involve these notions can be very helpful, also stories where the person has to work hard to get a result, since most sevens would like to do something perfectly right off the bat.
- Your seven-year-old will argue with you in a sense, asking “Why?” “Why?” over and over, more almost as a stalling technique for whatever you asked them to do. Do NOT overtalk to them! If you need help, see my post entitled, “Stop Talking! (”http://theparentingpassageway.com/2009/04/14/stop-talking/) But do make sure your child has heard you- sometimes they really don’t hear you!
- As always, pick your battles as to the things that are MOST important for your family.
Here is to peaceful and respectful living with our children,