Developmental Fridays: The Thirteen Year Old

(Life got busy, so this week’s Developmental Friday is today!)

“Every now and then, in fact more or less at yearly intervals during the teenage years, Nature puts on the brakes and effects a sudden and sharp turn in the young person’s behavior. So it is for many at thirteen.

All of a sudden, as we have observed earlier at three and a half and again at seven, there is a marked turn toward inwardizing, withdrawal, uncommunicativeness,uncertainty about self and other people and the world in general, almost a slowing down of metabolism.” – from “Your Ten-to Fourteen-Year-Old” by Louise Bates Ames, Frances Ilg, Sidney Baker

Thirteen year olds typically withdraw physically and emotionally, tending to be critical, unfriendly, and suspicious, according to the Gesell Institute books. However, before we despair as parents upon reading this, the Gesell Institute sees these developments as “extremely positive and constructive” and a sign that the adolescent is protecting his or her half –formed, budding personality.    Waldorf Education also tends to take a positive view of the thirteen year old in the throes of these changes, as the book “The Human Life” by George and Gisela O’Neill  points out that the teenaged years are the time when the intellectual forces come to the forefront, but also  that emotional and personal elements also take a role now

Major Features Of The Thirteen-Year-Old Continue reading

Girls On the Cusp of Puberty

 

With two girls in our house, I have spent a bit of time thinking about girls on the cusp of puberty. It also is a pretty hot topic amongst my parent friends who have girls this age, and is getting quite a bit of attention in even the mainstream media.  Here is one article from the NY Times called, Puberty Before Age  10:  A New Normal?  I believe the study of over 1200 girls mentioned in this article is this one in the medical journal “Pediatrics”.

We can argue all day long about the causation of early puberty.  Is it the estrogens, phytoestrogens, and other hormone disrupters in our food, water and environment?  Is it the levels  of different things within our own bodies at the time we got pregnant with the children who are now growing up to be girls on the cusp of puberty?  Is it something we just haven’t figured out yet?

WebMD details a few of the possible medical causes and signs of puberty and notes that the difference between early puberty and “regular” puberty is not in the signs , but in the timing.  I find it interesting that in this article the signs of puberty for girls is detailed solely as breast development and the onset of menstruation, but when I talk to parents about the signs of puberty they are worried about it can be about breast budding as well, but many times it is more about the moodiness/fluctuating emotions, talking back to parents that may be presumed due to hormonal change,  pubic hair developing or body odor or even just their daughter wanting to wear a bra.

Here is what I am finding most of my parents friends and readers to be doing: Continue reading

Tea and Conversation With Our Daughter–Part Two

 

I wrote the very first part of this post quite some time ago here.  Back then, I had a small idea about topics where I thought I might like to speak into our daughter’s life over time, just layering in things here and there.  When I wrote that post, our oldest daughter was ten and a half.  Now she is turning thirteen in a few weeks, and I can see she is  really within that wonderful beginning of the  realm of thinking;  a time of the  beginnings of  cause and effect in a thoughtful, mindful way; a time of  moving from feelings into “what-choices-do-I-make-off-of-these-feelings”; a time of snippets of moving from love into duty, with glimpses of ideals and values that I suspect will blossom so much more in the later teenaged years.

When my daughter was younger, it was all about modeling, and also the doing work of the household and garden.  Now that she is older, it is still about  all of those things, but we can start to have some thoughtful  discussions and reading.  This was the little list I started out with in that old post, and I wanted to share with you all some of the resources I have found to address these topics.  (Some of these are Christian, because I am Christian, but many of them are also easily adaptable to many belief systems). Continue reading

Seventh Grade Homeschool Planning: The Real Deal 2

 

So, you may remember when I wrote this about seventh grade planning:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/06/11/seventh-grade-homeschooling-here-is-the-real-deal/

As a little recap, all the things I mention in that post are areas of thought for me; essentially since I think seventh and eighth grade are a step up.  Those two grades are different than the earlier grades, and even different than sixth grade. I also think again,  in an era where many homeschooled children do look toward taking community college classes and such at age 16, what we do here counts.

The seventh and eighth grades are also the culmination of a beautiful grades curriculum, and I don’t want to miss the beauty and peak of all the work we have done in previous years.  It is also my first time through planning seventh grade, which always makes it harder as well.  And, to add to that, there are some things I wish we had done in sixth grade that we didn’t so I also felt we add a bit of make up to do. More on that  in later posts!

My other  major place of thought centers around PRACTICE.   I don’t think is talked about enough in Waldorf circles, and certainly not especially for the later grades,  nor are enough examples and ideas given.  For example, to me, It is not enough to cover state geography in fourth grade, U.S. Geography in fifth grade, etc and then never practice and return to it – the man and animal block of fourth grade, etc. And yes, of course, some of this information comes up again and again as you work the information into other blocks.  This is the “layering” of the curriculum that one often hears about, but yet I find it often takes experience to really bring this to fruition.  So, a growing question in my head  as of late has centered around this idea of practice and integration of what we have studied through ALL of the eight grades and how do I bring this  into seventh and eighth grade.

So, I am thinking a lot about  the practice and habits part.  We start our day with Continue reading

Resources for Seventh Grade

 

One thing I think that you should start doing if you are going through the grades for the first time, is to gather lists for each grade – books by topic, possible field trips in your area, etc.

There are some ideas by curriculum writers or Waldorf teachers for seventh grade, in no particular order:

This is a list of books that I am personally finding helpful so far and wanted to share. This is absolutely by no means an inclusive list, or a list of “doing it right.”  It is just a list of possibilities.  By subject:  Continue reading

Seventh Grade Homeschooling: Here Is The Real Deal

 

Most of my friends will tell you I am honest, probably to a fault.  I tend to say what I think, even if I put it in the nicest words possible.  (Sorry to my friends who have to put up with me!)    So, I have to be honest and tell you a few things about planning seventh grade.

 

It is disappointing.  It is challenging.  It can be frustrating.  It is not for the faint of heart.

Ha!  There it is!

So many of the resources and previous places that provided direction seems to “dry up” or it becomes incredibly vague as to “how” to do seventh grade.  There are only about three or four curriculum providers providing any direction at this level at all, whether that is articles, workshops, or full curriculum.  That may sound like enough to choose from and draw from, but I don’t think it is, to be honest.  None of them have completely resonated with me.  Each curriculum provider seems to provide different suggestions and ideas – which is wonderful in one sense, to see the possibilities – but also daunting in another sense, because it seems as if no matter what path you follow you may be “missing something”.  I understand all of education, whether school or at home, is going to have things we don’t learn –there are many things I didn’t learn even going through university twice in two very different plans of study!  I don’t believe there is an education that exists without gaps, but what I find disappointing is that threads that are started don’t always seem completed in seventh and eighth grade.  A strong start, but not a thought to how the scope and sequence will finish out in some of these home programs.    For example, in seventh grade, some put in almost no geography; or some put in one region of the world but not another region, some put in chemistry but not physics; all seem to put in physiology; none put in American History (not even the American curriculum providers!) and leave the entirety of American history for eighth grade which I think, at least for me as an American, is terrible.   And, some providers, when they start American history,  skip the pre -colonial times and pick up at Manifest Destiny into the Civil War.   Some put in astronomy whilst others did this in sixth grade, some put in separate blocks for geometry and algebra and some combine these subjects into one block.

Middle school is a lot to pull together, and yes, the oft -used phrase “Every homeschool will look very different in middle school” does apply  here, as it does to every grade.  But again, within that freedom, I think we need to find the developmentally appropriate form.  This is not only the capstone ending for the eight grades, but also a preliminary foundation for high school.  And, for many homeschoolers whose high school careers morph into community college and other things out into the world around age 16, the decisions in seventh and eighth grade could be important.

The one thing I did was go back to the AWNSA chart.  No, this is not to say homeschooling should look just like this, of course,  but to see past what a homeschool curriculum provider *thinks* would be feasible or  *could* be possible in the home or just what their own personal bias is and to then compare and see what is possibly done in a school (but maybe not because I don’t know as a class teacher can fit all this in either!) can be helpful, I think.  It helps you to know what you can do, what you can draw from, and to look for the reasons WHY these subjects are developmentally appropriate and then look at your own child and your own family.

 

According to the AWNSA chart, this is seventh grade: Continue reading