I have gotten some private emails lately regarding the nine-year-change and puberty, so I wanted to write something for this space for other parents searching for support and information during this time.
In the view of Waldorf Education, the soul is coming down into the body. However, I think the outward manifestation of puberty (odors, even breasts budding or getting hair in private areas) doesn’t change the course of the curriculum, nor really the developmental level that you are parenting in. A nine-year old is still a nine-year old, whether she has started her menstrual cycle or not. Puberty is an outward manifestation of the body, but the nine-year change is more an inner crisis of the soul and of middle childhood.
I hear a lot from parents of eight year olds and they are sure they are in the nine-year change. Well, the child could be, but what I often find is that the parent has forgotten that the trickster tales of the second grade (tailored to the eight year old!) are there for exactly that brash, over-the-top, exaggerating, swaggering, yes, perhaps a little “mouthy” in tone to the elders ( :). An eight year old is the trickster!
The nine year old change is different in that there can be attitude, there can be pushing back against the adult, but there is this underlying deep thought about the world. This is where you hear questions about death, about the beginning of life, about “am I really part of this family?” and “where did I come from?” It is a time primarily of deep feelings, so you want to answer the questions, but not go into the logic stage of the twelve year old change, which comes much later. Keep things in the comforting, calm, rhythmic feeling life during this change. Help the child connect to nature by being outside, and keep the world small. The world doesn’t need to expand to huge heights with running to every activity or huge numbers of sleep-overs and friend play dates. Keep calm and be steady. Let your family culture be the form.
In the future, I would like to write about some of the things I have found helpful (and other mothers have found helpful) to meet the physical time of puberty, but I just wanted to look today at soul level of development.
My favorite back post about the nine-year-change and homeschooling is here: http://theparentingpassageway.com/2011/02/25/third-grade-and-the-nine-year-change/ if that is any help.