Ten Year Old Girls In The Homeschooling Classroom

Ha!  Long title, but it reflects exactly what I want to talk about today.  I have been talking to other mothers of nine and ten year old little girls, and it seems we all have a common problem…The nine year old girls seem to either cry and crumple with many of their studies at that age, and the ten year olds do their work but with the pacing of a slug.  Is this happening to anyone else out there?  For those of you with nine and ten year old boys, is the behavior similar or different?

I have found for my ten year old personally, the lessons have to be extremely enlivened.  Art, music, poetry, movement are all exceedingly important to teaching.  Those things are the learning.  Today we practiced fractions through an invention of my dear friend Samantha Fogg who is a dog trainer, by looking at the number of trials our dog got right in different tasks.  What fraction of the trials did she get right?  What fraction did she get wrong?  Can we add fractions across trial tests to garner totals?    At the same time, my first grader painted giant letters with washable tempura paint and a roller, walked the letters, and then walked the letters with our dog, training her to walk on a loose leash and not pull.  This, of course, would not be any kind of a main lesson in a Waldorf school, but in a home environment it was very enlivening and very practical.  I think Rudolf Steiner might have liked it.

However, don’t we always worry?  We think, well surely there also has to be a point, “that something has to get done!”   Not that art, music, poetry, movement, cooking, etc are not “doing something” but that sometimes perhaps just as adults, we like to see something of our own traditional learning background in Main Lesson Book entry and pencils.

It can be easy to get into a very dry two or three day rhythm:  present the material, work with the material artistically, draw in the Main Lesson Book and write a summary and yet this is not all that a Waldorf teacher would do at school and it is not all we should be doing at home. (And I am not suggesting we abandon a two or three day rhythm here – sleep is an integral part of learning in Waldorf Education!  However, I am rallying against only a  Main Lesson Book.  Maybe you do a puppet show as part of your block and it arches over several weeks; maybe cooking over several weeks fits in..etc)

At home, we want to keep things simple.  I think we must face it that by the time we get through a long and complicated opening of verses, songs, poetry, flutes with older and younger children present that someone will need to go to the bathroom, someone will need to eat, someone is crying!  Have you all ever experienced that?  I sure have! Meredith, a sixth grade Waldorf Teacher, has some fine tips here for managing a classroom that I think could work well in the home environment as well: http://www.awaldorfjourney.com/2011/10/managing-the-masses/

But, it is good to keep in mind:  how can this be enlivening?  What needs to go in a Main Lesson Book or is there another way to do this?  And, when do I need to push a bit – does this child really need to complete this artistic presentation, this summary?  Because sometimes it becomes more about life than just the simple lesson.

I also like to go back and review the parts of the Main Lesson on Meredith’s blog:

New Content, the end of a Main Lesson:  http://www.awaldorfjourney.com/2011/01/new-content/

Bookwork/Practice:  http://www.awaldorfjourney.com/2010/12/bookworkpractice/

Recall:  http://www.awaldorfjourney.com/2010/12/recall/

The Warm-Up (the beginning of the Main Lesson):  http://www.awaldorfjourney.com/2010/12/warm-up/

I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts.

Many blessings,

12 thoughts on “Ten Year Old Girls In The Homeschooling Classroom

  1. Teaching my 10yo daughter has been a delight – but very different from my boys. She needs it lively and more importantly, she needs to talk about it. Some of that is her temperament, but after the two big boys, she is way different. The boys were pretty matter-of-fact.

    On lessons, I find that for families just starting with the method, they need to get a homeschooling rhythm and that can’t happen unless they are first taught to just do the 2-3 day rhythm – at least in the beginning. Once they are comfortable with the material and are confident in the method then they can branch out and sing their own song – first they just need to know the tune, lol, if that makes sense. There is a learning curve and once it is found then they can walk on. Starting at the beginning with those Waldorf basics is the key.

    I am loving this year. Having so much fun with my first year kindy sweetheart and my big kids. We are all working together…4 main lessons…it is a nice hum 🙂

    Except today, lol…our hum is outside putting our property to bed for the season. It is so nice to homeschool!!

  2. A resounding “YES!” to the nine year old crying and crumpling! In fact, that is why we decided for the first time to try a Waldorf School this year. I miss my girl though, and the school is not working out, so I am thinking about taking her out. I just don’t want to go back to how it was. I found I didn’t have the patience/tools to help her work thru her frustration, and would get angry and frustrated myself.

    • Beth,
      All i can say is don’t give up! It will be worth it in the end and this too shall pass!

      Can’t wait to hear your progress!

  3. Yes, my soon to be nine-year-old is falling apart constantly, my 12-year-old is fairly balanced, but talks non-stop to her older brother, who, with 13, has to argue about everything I say. (The two together never shut up!). My 3-year-old is very sweet, observing, helpful, and loving, but has a tendency to throw things, when it doesn’t go her way. What about my 6-year-old? She has always been very sensitive and simply doesn’t like her food these days. Maybe she should get together with our cat Julius, who also has these tendencies!

    So, there you go, that’s life in our house these days. Are we still learning? Yes, with ups and downs, tears and laughter, quiet times (really!) and very loud times (more of those). Are we still writing in our main lesson books? Yes, my 8-year-old tries to be finished quickly while my older ones take forever to finish what they are supposed to do. (My son would rather talk about the subject than write about it anyway). The older ones still remember their main lessons from the time they were in third grade, though, when they see their sister studying house building and shelters. So even when you think they are not making any progress, something sticks and comes back much later with fond memories. (The tears about the crooked line in the adobe house will be forgotten by then).

  4. I feel like my almost 10 year old son is finally hitting his stride – or maybe I am!! When I could finally look at the main lesson as something that cultivates the will (mine and his), it really allowed us to flourish in the discipline of it all. Does that make sense? Our ML books are anything but pretty; I am interested in looking at the links you sent. Perhaps it will move my focus from the main lesson book as something that somehow “represents” what we have learned.

  5. I’ve got a girl who just turned 11 and a boy about to turn 10. I find it all to be very up and down with these two, for the most part they get along great, but sometimes like to annoy each other or compete (they do the same work). My daughter is of course experiencing some hormonal shifts at this age and can be super sweet one minute and a bit of a mess the next. I do however find that my super sensitive son can be the same sometimes. They are very different learners and I occasionally have to work with each of them separately on the same thing, but honestly I don’t mind, it’s a little one on one time. All in all I think both sexes have their unique challenges.

  6. Ha! Ha! Ha! I loved reading all of this. I love hearing how different people experience their children at different ages. I was, actually, just speaking about this very thing with a friend of mine the other day (daughters who whine about doing work- hee hee hee). I have a daughter who is 10. She has always been more difficult to teach than my two older boys (who are now 15 and 12). This year, she seems to be pretty even tempered about most things, but she is taking FOREVER to do her reading every day. She gets soooooo distracted. My 7 year old daughter, on the other hand, is grumbling and groaning every time I ask her to do some school work. Geesh. My girls have been so different than my boys. I think the best thing we can all do is just keep chugging along. . .they will all turn out well in the end! Thanks for the link tips. I’ll have to check those out. I’m still in the process of morphing my schooling into all things Waldorf.

  7. I have a nine year old boy and he is in a standard primary school. I have definately noticed that he is very distracted and very emotional this year. His temperement can be quite extreme but he definately lacks concentration. Funnily enough, his report cards are reflecting this. He has almost changed what his strengths are. eg Where he was better at maths in previous years, He is now better at english. Where he was better at sports, he is now better at music? I would love to know a bit more about this age group. It is as thought there is an amount of frustration that cannot be expressed. Definately changes.

    • HI Cassy!
      There are lots and lots of posts on the nine year old on this blog- try looking under the development tab at the top and then the nine year old section! You will find lots there.

      So glad you are here,

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