It is rather odd to me that so many mainstream parenting resources focus solely on the developmental stages and phases of the toddler and preschooler, and once a child becomes the age of children in the grades, no one seems to think these children are growing or changing in significant ways anymore! Yet, parents of children between the ages of 7 to 14 will tell you this is a time of incredibly rapid change.
To me, two of the hallmarks of development in the time between ages 8 to 10 involves restlessness and forgetfulness.
It is literally so difficult for the 8 to 10 year old to settle down, to sit down, to focus at times. It is unreasonable to think that a child in this age range will be able to sit and write and read all day long like an adult. They are not adults, and they need a lot of movement and time to release energy. Ways to do this include spending time in nature; neighborhood games; probably less organized sports than one thinks but more family fun such as hiking, roller blading, roller skating, skiing, swimming, climbing; lots of breaks for movement during school; many chances for movement and DOING to permeate the subjects we are teaching in drawing, modeling, map making, painting, making models.
This is completely unpopular, but I believe strongly that media and screens for this age should be limited. There are too many other things in life they need to experience with their hands and their restlessness is a sign of this need.
Another place this can be in conflict for homeschoolers is that it can be very easy to want to really ramp up academics in this age range because the child seems so much more mature than earlier. If one is not careful it is easy to lose sight that children of these ages are really in the heart of childhood and that rational thinking is not yet quite there. Hang on, and keep including many concrete and doing ways of addressing your academic subjects.
Forgetfulness is something that very much annoys parents of children this age. You can ask a child of this age to do something and they will forget within a moment or two.
One of the ways we can work with this is through RHYTHM. If the order of every morning is that we get up, we have breakfast, we get dressed and brush our hair and teeth and make our beds, then the child can follow that. Do try to pick an order to things that works for your children. For example, you may wish that everyone would get dressed and make their beds before breakfast but everyone wakes up starving, so craft a rhythm that takes that into account.
Chores are important, but you simply must figure out what you will do regarding the forgetfulness and dawdling around chores and what the consequences of this will be. I have seen very individual approaches from family to family.
I think the last area surrounding forgetfulness that can be helpful is to think about bringing in habits – habits that will build character through practical life. This takes time, and it is easy to want to work on everything at once. Pick one area and really focus on that for forty days and see how it becomes ingrained in the child. Sometimes for the child in this age range it can be something quite small, such as going back to making sure hands are washed before dinner, since acts of hygiene often slip around this age. Maybe it is speaking politely; these are ages where many parents complain about the tone in which children speak.
To me, sometimes this age needs a bit of a carrot. Not a bribe at all, but more a bit of incentive. Haven’t you ever had a really long and rough day and thought how you would try to persevere through it because you were getting to go out that night to something special, or you were going to eat something special for dinner, or you were going to call a special friend on the phone, and it made the day just a bit more bearable? To me, that is different than a bribe that is announced and “you must do this to earn this”. It is just an incentive of something lovely that helps all days go just a little bit better and helps us keep on track.
I cannot tell you how often to try an incentive, or what that incentive even should be per say as I think that is so individual to each family and each situation, but it is just something to think about.
Just a few thoughts to ponder today!