Here are some general developmental characteristics of the eight-year-old as according to our friends at the Gesell Institute in the book, “Your Eight-Year-Old: Lively and Outgoing” by Louise Bates Amers and Carol Chase Haber.
- Expansive, outgoing, high energy, speedy!
- Hard on themselves for mistakes (May say, “I never get anything right!” “I always do things wrong!”) – At age 7, the child measures himself against his own demands, but at 8, he measures himself against what he perceives the adult demands are.
- Love to talk! May also boast quite a bit (remember back to age 4, there are similarities!)
- Much less fatigue than at age 7, a big difference in physical stamina from age 7 but may still fatigue a bit with activities
- “The relationship of child to Mother at Eight is perhaps more complex, intriguing, and intense than at any other age.” The child cannot get enough of Mother, her attention especially. The child may be highly possessive of her in a physical way, and also demand constant conversation and interaction. This may be partly in preparation for the nine-year-old change where the child begins to separate from Mother. (Yes, we in Waldorf Land have recognized this for a LONG time, but it is nice to see a mainstream resource here and that that also sees it!)
- The relationship with father is much less intense, much smoother than with Mother. The child enjoys the company of the father but does not demand his attention the way Mother’s attention is demanded.
- The child is HIGHLY aware of the relationship between the two parents in the household and is watching!
- Family is very important, and the eight-year-old is curious about all phone calls, conversations, etc.
- Fairness is also big. The eight-year-old may dramatize sibling fights, love to argue and pick up on mistakes.
- “The Seven-Year-Old is concerned with himself and how others treat him; whereas the Eight-Year-Old is interested in his relationship with others.”
- The Eight-Year-Old wants things with friends to go well and may even have a best friend (even though there may be arguing and disputing with said best friend, LOL).
- THINKING: Concrete operational stage, which is the BEGINNING of abstraction. Is starting to realize that natural phenomena and inanimate objects do not have souls (this is not a Waldorf perspective remember, this is a mainstream perspective) and that the eight-year-old can distinguish between fantasy and reality. Is STARTING to understand cause and effect, similarities and differences.
- EATING/TABLE MANNERS: Eats a good quantity, but eats rapidly. Aware of good table manners, but may find it hard to put it into practice. Also at family meal times, an eight-year-old tends to interrupt and argue and talk a lot.
- SLEEPING: Sleeps usually between 8 PM and wakes up between 7 and 7:30. (In Waldorf, an eight-year-old is typically in second grade with a bedtime of 7:45). Ten hours of sleep is average.
- HEALTH: May see increase in hay fever, allergies, asthma at this age, and also ear infections and complaints involving the eye (watch out for eye fatigue and strain!)
- VISION is a big deal at this age, the child may not be able to figure out visually where they are in space, they are more distracted by things in the peripheral visual field, which can lead to the next section:
- ACCIDENT PRONE – accidents are the MAIN cause of death at this age.
- TENSIONAL OUTLETS – less tensional outlets than at six and seven noted.
- SEXUAL INTEREST: May be interest in sex play, sex jokes, babies, where babies come from and how they get out, what the father’s role is in sex. Girls tend to ask more questions than boys. Girls may be ready to be told about menstruation according to page 46 of this book.
- PLAY: In general, does not like to play alone. Cooking, dramatizing, fixing things around the house, creating magic shows and other shows are enjoyed. Dolls can still be prized by girls. Boys may like models, electric trains, etc. Paper dolls are also good for classifying, arranging, etc. Collections and collecting are strong at this age for both boys and girls.
That is a traditional viewpoint; we will look at an anthroposophic view next post!