I wrote a little post awhile back regarding life skills for seventh and eighth graders (and development of these skills and capacities could easily be extended into high school and beyond, of course!). I promised to share some of the resources we used as we go along, so hopefully this post will help elucidate that. I feel you could follow these general themes by grade, and then find resources that fit into your family’s culture. Some of my resources are Christian, some are specific to the way we eat, so it may not work for every family, but again, hopefully this can spur you to think about what you want to teach when and find great resources to help you along this journey.
I think many Waldorf homeschooling families start thinking about relationships and healthy sexuality with the beginning of the seventh grade physiology block, which many Waldorf homeschooling families seem to schedule in the spring. Up until this point, perhaps more of the “life skills” you are teaching are more hands-on or concrete, but hopefully you have layered some comments and thoughts about treating each other kindly, respect, and other things as life has gone along. Still, I think this topic marks a departure into something a little more abstract: how do we relate to The Other? How do we love and care for one another in an intimate way? How do we love and care for ourselves before we can hope to care for another?
So, in seventh grade, I covered practical hands-on things ( which, for us, included cooking, sewing and other hand arts, baking, money management, Babysitting course which included child development and infant/child CPR through our community), but then added two more abstract things: healthy relationships/healthy sexuality and my second idea was the idea of positivity. Only you know your child and can decide whether or not they are ready for something as abstract as this, or if these subjects are even needed for that particular child.
For healthy relationships/sexuality, you can see my post regarding seventh grade physiology for the resources used.
For positivity, I used some of the following resources:
- Don’t Let Your Emotions Run Your Life For Teens – read it first; I had to edit parts out that weren’t really applicable to us and keep in mind my child was almost 14 by the time we hit this book. Your child may need to be older for this book depending upon when their birthday falls.
- Battlefield of the Mind for Kids –Christian, for whatever reason, we didn’t really enjoy it and I wouldn’t recommend it unless you get it from the library and read it first (sorry!)
- Speak Love – Christian, enjoyable
Some of you wondered what we were using for our Christian faith. I think for us, this still has mainly been attending liturgy, singing in the choir (where you get to pray again and sing Scripture!), prayer, and I used a little Orthodox Christian book about the ten commandments for teens (which I can’t find at the moment, so I am unsure of the title).
I think the other important way we work with some of these seventh grade topics is through biography and stories. So we used plenty of biographies and stories in different blocks that focused on positivity and “overcoming” during the seventh grade year.
This year, in eighth grade, we are focused on four key areas outside of continuing practical skills: the art of conversation and manners; nutrition; stress management/ healthy sleep, movement and nutrition habits to support stress; and prayer. I will be happy to post resources regarding these topics at the end of the year. Also, in conjunction with attending La Leche League meetings, we have talked a lot about gentle discipline this year and childhood development for babies and toddlers. This also ties in with babysitting capacities. I have seen some teens babysit and they really have no idea how to re-direct a toddler or preschooler and you can see the frustration mount in the teens who are in charge. It is really important that both boys and girls have these skills for when they are a parent one day.
Only you know your child and what they need, so take the time to think about what you would like to bring either in the tail end of seventh/eighth grade or if it needs to wait until the beginning of high school. My plans for ninth grade include more focus on positivity; self-respect and self esteem (healthy relationships with ourselves and others), conflict resolution skills and to keep developing the “doing” of maintaining a nourished home and family.