I think nine years of age, in many ways, is a rather fragile time. This sense of “I” ness and separation is coming out and beginning, but it is still rudimentary. Criticism still cannot be separated from the overall sense of self. It is an age to be handled with care.
I say this from experience. Nine (Third Grade in Waldorf land) has been a rather odd year here for us. It was a year where the academics seemed to jump up a notch, and also a year where the outside activities my daughter was involved in also seemed to jump up a bit. (Some of it just coincidentally happened this year, but still it all seemed to converge this year for whatever reason). I have also heard this from mothers whose children are nine and attending private and public schools as well, so I don’t think it is a complete anomaly to our family.
My advice to mothers planning for fall for their nine year old’s year is to keep it very simple. Realize that some nine year olds really regress in writing skills, so perhaps plan not to require so much in Main Lesson books and such, but rather look to practical work and projects. Many nine year olds needs a lot of movement, so build in extra breaks throughout the day to jump rope, jump on a trampoline and play games.
Keep the extra activities to one extra thing, maybe two, but please make sure those things are not jumping into competition (ie, therefore requiring much more tiring practice than previously) or into other lands of testing and winning and losing.
Nine needs lots of space to just be and dream. Simple answers are fine, but complete wordiness and heady explanations are not. It truly, in my opinion, is not the time for world politics and world events, beyond very simple explanations for things that come up.
As mentioned, activities are fine, but within a balance and weighted more towards open and free time. For this reason, I would advise letting a sport you think will turn competitive to wait until fourth or fifth grade if you can. I recognize there are some children who are just wired to do whatever it is that they do, but I think that is further and farther in between than society thinks.
Let Nine just be. It can be a year that hits hard or a year that is okay, but I think much of it depends on how much “extra” is going on. Coming out of the other side of the nine-year-change provides a much more stable base for the child to use as a foundation to expand academic, social and practical skills.