The Seven and Eight- Year -Old: Still A Need for Protection

The pink bubble of the Waldorf kindergarten does not last forever, that is true.  However, this does not mean that the world is so quickly expanded for the seven and eight-year old that suddenly they become miniature teenagers.   This is not what a seven or eight-year old needs, although this is the tact our society often takes.  I was pleasantly surprised to speak with a friend the other day whose second-grade daughter is doing no extracurricular activities outside of attending public school.  This, however, is the only person I have talked with where this is happening.  Around my part of town, for example, many of the first and second graders I see are on the go from early morning – up at 6 AM to catch a bus and go to school, to attending school all day, to aftercare or sports (do you all honestly remember playing competitive sports in first and second grade?  Do you?  I don’t), out to dinner with parents (at least they are all eating dinner together!), off for homework and off to bed around 9 – to start all over the next day.

I respectfully must say that this is far too much for a seven or eight-year-old.  I think there is a direct relationship between the rates of ADHD/ADD, ritalin use, behavioral problems and the fact that we are asking these small children to “put in a full day”, just like a grown-up.

I think as Waldorf homeschoolers, we have a unique opportunity to treat our seven and eight –year -olds the way they should be treated – with imagination, with creativity, with watching their skills and development unfold, providing plenty of opportunities for sensory experiences and outside play, for provoking academic work through art and music.

We also have a chance to establish strong routines and rhythms in our homes with periods of in-breath and out-breath.  We can establish a bedtime routine of 7:30 for a first grader, and 7:45 for a second grader or earlier, as suggested by this Waldorf school:

We have an opportunity to provide healthy food, regular snack and meal times in an unhurried setting (which is often not the case in public school where lunch may start at 10:30 AM with 20 minutes to eat).

We have the chance to bring spirituality into our curriculum and homes.  We can foster gratitude, beauty, respect, reverence and responsibility in our children through stories, example and modeling as opposed to just slogans fostered in character development campaigns.

Most of all, we still can have the influence to slow them down.  The Gesell Institute mentions in the book, “Your Seven-Year-Old” that one of the main hallmarks of a seven-year-old is the fact that the child wants to do everything, but is prone to fatigue.  In our society we often take what our seven or eight year old “wants to do” and run with that  to the point these children are so involved they are worn out, irritable and exhausted.  Their small lives, instead of being full of imagination and wonder, are full of factoids for tests, long days and to-do lists that only adults should have.

The seven and eight-year olds in our society are vulnerable. Let’s protect them a bit longer, until the true skill of reasoning and logical thinking starts to be born, until the true signs of needing separation from the adults in their lives happens.  Let’s protect them now so they can flourish later.



14 thoughts on “The Seven and Eight- Year -Old: Still A Need for Protection

  1. i have a seven year old daughter and i am so thankful that i am able to give her this unhurried and unscheduled life as we homeschool together using waldorf and steiner as our inspiration. it is challenging to be sure, but your post has reminded me of why i began this journey – it is worth it.

  2. Wonderful thoughts! My seven going on eight year old loves out unhurried Waldorf homeschooling pace. It is such a time of internal transition for her, and she is soaking up all the stability we can give.

    Loving going through your blog. Thank you for all of your detailed posts. Wonderful information for Waldorf homeschoolers!

  3. Thank you for this timely post…we have a Waldorf school starting in our city this September, and I have been debating whether to send my 7-year-old son, who, honestly, just needs to move constantly. He wants to stay home, so I have had my doubts, and reading this just re-affirmed my instincts. All three children, 9, 7, and 4, will be home for another year; where we can continue working on our rhythm, and connecting with one another!

    • Seven to me, is an age that does need a lot of connection and protection. Seven is really still small, and that bridge between what was in the Kindergarten Years and what will come.
      I have a post on some of the traditional characteristics of the seven-year-old; I don’t know if you saw it but that may also help affirm things for you.

  4. Oh yes! I have been considering writing a post about early bedtimes. Recently a mom and I were trying to set up a playdate for our sons, and she asked if he could come over at 5 pm! Uh, no, that’s dinner time, because my kids are in bed by 7:30. This same boy, age 6, has seen all of the Star Wars movies and told me that they weren’t scary! I just don’t get that — I guess parents don’t see these things as harmful, because of course all caring parents want to protect their children.

  5. Great post, just found your blog thru mdc. We are at a public Waldorf-inspired charter, which is *great* for our family. It allowed us to escape the competitiveness of the public school system–the gogogogogo. So many of my neighbors and acquaintances have public (and, yes, private) school kids who are exhausted after sitting at a desk almost all school day, working, then have 2 hours of homework. Spelling tests in K! And then little league 4x/week til 8pm. My 6yo is in bed then. Out cold. My 9yo is reading or having a cuddle talk. I am not a homeschooling type–and my 9yo is a very very shy contrarian. Not homeschoolable 🙂 His looping teacher and same classmates have been awesome for him!

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  10. Hi Carrie,
    Thank you for your lovely insights, I forever had this debate in my head regarding letting my 8 year child be put to sleep still cuddling me, or does she need to start sleeping on her own as it might be difficult to get her to sleep independently later on, but reading your blog I now want to give her some more time, thanks for the reassurance.
    Luv Nihal Kaur.

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