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

Why We Homeschool The Middle School Years

 

I can only talk about our own personal journey regarding homeschooling.  This is an individual walk, and I can only give my experience.  Once people “get over” the hurdle and accept homeschooling as a viable option for the younger years and even the early grades, I agree that I  often hear “well, I plan to homeschool until middle school” or “I plan to homeschool until high school”.    Many homeschooling parents, at least in the Waldorf community, have told me they feel not only is there a huge decline in folks homeschooling this age group of children,  but that also the number of resources drops off dramatically.  It can be a hard and isolating road.

One of my Dutch friends was explaining to me the other day that in the Netherlands they say those ages are “being between the napkin and the tablecloth”.  You are not a child, yet not an adult.  You are  not really treated as an adult, but you don’t really feel like a child.I

Something that is well accepted in developmental circles is the fragility of the budding self that occurs around the age of 12 and 13.    Bodies start changing, voices start changing in boys, limbs are long and heavy.  And there is this beautiful and vibrant fragility I see in the teenagers ages 13 and 14 that I get the pleasure of being with.  They are finding themselves and their own passions and their own opinions.   To me, it is almost like a butterfly struggling to come out of its cocoon.    The Gesell Institute writes about the  needs for privacy often seen in a thirteen-year old:   “by withdrawing and refusing to share, Thirteen protects something far too fragile and half formed for others to see, his budding personality.”

So, I think there are two sides to this. In American society at least, I think the idea of the sullen, withdrawn teenager has gone much too far.  Space is important, but it must have a balance of space within the community.  And to our family, the most important thing for this period for their overall education  is for our children to be with  family as their community and with the well-trusted adults and friends they have developed.  Eugene Schwartz recently gave an interesting lecture Continue reading

The Twelve Year Change

 

Within the pedagogical literature of Waldorf Education, there seems to be  a lot more press about the developmental changes at ages six/seven and nine than there is about the developmental changes at twelve.  This is unfortunate, I believe, because some of the biggest changes within the first two seven year cycles take place at age twelve.

Ages six and seven may be more of a “you’re not the boss of me” age, and nine may be an age of sensitivity and tenderness as children often seem to experience an underlying realizations about loss, life cycles, and separation, but twelve, to me, has the most dramatic changes and unfolding out of these three transitional periods.

A good deal of separation of the child’s own personality really begins at this age, and shows in the will of the child.  The child may set  now set goals, especially in learning, and may work at activities to really conquer something in the outside world that they are interested in intently.  The will shows up coming from a place of inner individual moral development and personality.

The social element awakens;  there can be a  grouping off, especially after grade six. You start seeing this generally as early as around age ten, which is where fractions is introduced into the Waldorf curriculum in grade four, and this grouping off continues to progress.   Many people remember this about the middle school years.   It is important  to make sure the children are in a group in a healthy way at this point – trekking, hiking, kayaking, caving and other bodily will exercises in a group is stimulating for this group and age.

You start seeing development that looks more based upon gender at age twelve than ever before.  Girls tend to band together socially in a way that can be different than the boys – more hanging out, daydreaming, talking.  The boys can be brimming with activity.  Physically the girls are different than the boys.  As the girls approach puberty, Continue reading

More About The Twelve Year Old

 

The last post I wrote about the twelve year old was here:  http://theparentingpassageway.com/2013/09/10/the-twelve-year-old/.  I have a little girl who is almost thirteen now, and I wanted to write some more things about the twelve year old before we move out of this age.

 

First of all, The Gesell Institute has some things to say about the twelve year old in general terms which most parents find helpful.  In general, the age of twelve is more calm and tolerant of everyone around them than eleven year olds.  Isn’t that a relief?  Twelve year olds tend to be kind of detached with their mothers, and sometimes with their family in general,  but friendly.  Twelve is also  often willing for adults to have some of their own “adult’’ life and not watch too carefully over that.  Twelve year olds are more tolerant of siblings (sort of!)…in general, twelve year olds get along well with siblings who are under the age of four and those over the age of sixteen.  So, sibling quarreling can still exist.  Friends are important, too.  Most twelve year olds are branching out to have a larger social circle.  I have found this to be true with some homeschooled children, and not true with others.  Opportunities to make friends and be a friend are part of being twelve.

 

Other points about twelve: Continue reading

Sixth Grade Medieval History

 

You can see where my sixth grader and I left off in history in this last post about Ancient Rome here http://theparentingpassageway.com/2014/01/24/gallery-of-work-from-sixth-grade-ancient-rome/  (There are three separate posts about Rome on this blog).  We moved on to Medieval History this past month so I  wanted to finish up our sixth grade history journey for you all.

 

My main resources were: Continue reading

Puberty Part One

Often on Waldorf lists and groups, I see threads regarding puberty.  These threads typically concern the outward signs of puberty, or perhaps issues not of puberty but of sexuality, such as a discussion on what to tell a six-year old or a nine-year old about sexual relationships.

I have already discussed in an earlier post how the development of the child during something such as the nine year change is viewed from a spiritual place that looks at the development of the soul, and how the curriculum and parenting in a Waldorf way meets the child during this point whether outward, physical signs of puberty are taking place or not.

This is one of the best articles I have read regarding puberty Continue reading