We peeked at a traditional view of the six-year-old child in one of our last posts and now it is time to look at the Waldorf view of the six-year-old.
Six is obviously the end of one seven-year-cycle and at the cusp of beginning a new seven-year-cycle. It is also traditionally the time the child should be in the last year of Kindergarten within the Waldorf school system and getting ready to transfer over to the first grade by the age of six and a half or seven. I have heard lately of Waldorf schools transitioning early six-year-olds into first grade and feel this is incredibly wrong. Just wrong! From a traditional point of view it makes no sense at all; Gesell Institute is pretty firm about what a rocky age this can be, it is an age already full of tensional outlets and all kinds of misery, they are firm that it is a terrible age for teaching numbers and letters and writing, most six-year-olds can’t sit still to save their own lives – so yes, by all means, let’s throw academics into the picture! That make perfect sense from a developmental standpoint! And, from a Waldorf standpoint, it makes even LESS sense to have an early six-year-old in the first grade. I have two more posts to write in this series about the six-year-old – one about peaceful living with a six-year-old, and one is going to be about what to do that last year of Waldorf homeschooling kindergarten, so stay tuned! I feel very passionate about the little six-year-old! Okay, done with my rant now…….
Back to the anthroposophical viewpoint of the six-year-old.
In Waldorf Circles, this time is often called the “first puberty” or “first adolescence”. The book “You’re Not the Boss of Me! Understanding the Six/Seven-Year-Old Transformation”, edited by Ruth Ker, mentions some of the following characteristics:
- The appearance of the permanent teeth are seen as a more obvious and outward sign of all the things going on internally with the child.
- The six-year-old year is a time when the etheric of the child begins to separate from the parent. If you are confused about what etheric means or have forgotten, please do go back to the post about “Peaceful Life With a Four-Year-Old” – that explains the fourfold human being and may be helpful to you.
- For the first time, thinking and feeling are just as strong as the will in the child.
- This is seen in Waldorf circles NOT as the time to provide adult intellectual reasoning, more complex explanation but to instead latch on to the child’s sense of fantasy and imagination.
- Steiner wrote that children at the change of teeth need “soul milk” from us; Ruth Ker has interpreted this to mean authenticity.
- Children race around, have frenzied movements, and seek out plenty of movement.
- The child’s limbs begin to lengthen, body fat begins to disappear, waistlines become present, formation of the “S” shape of the spinal curve.
- The children of this age enjoy physical challenge and enjoy work
- This may be a crisis time of play where the child literally cannot play.
- Children of this age are working to develop symmetry, balance, dominance, crossing over midline – still!
- Children of this age want to be the boss. They are bossy, they correct people (including parents!)
- They may try to “play” with “adult” themes that are not so lovely to us – weddings, drinking, trying to get others to do things that are not right, rhymes with off-color words and phrases, being silly and giggly. The word “hate” enters the vocabulary now.
- You may see play that excludes other children.
- A six-year-old plays with boundaries.
Of course, with some of these children, these behavior do not show up until age seven (hence the title the six/SEVEN-year-old transformation) and some children may hit it early, but these are some general characteristics of this age from a Waldorf perspective.
In our next post we will look at what to do to guide these behavior and be an Authentic Leader. If you need inspiration until then, do hit the “No Spanking” tag in the tag box and that will bring up the series of posts I wrote about being an Authentic Leader.
Until next time,