The Class 7 child is finally waking up to their true individuality and this is a crucial phase of their development. And with this, our task is to help prepare them for the world so that they can set off in freedom. The onset of puberty, release of hormones, growth changes and extreme moods can be a very exciting, yet frightening experience for the 13 year old child.
As they try to make sense of life they will constantly push boundaries, be critical/judgemental and reject everything about the adults around them. Their mood swings between joy, despair, fear, curiosity, anger, deep sadness etc. and this causes their behaviour and attitude to deteriorate. The Class Seven adolescent can be very challenging to discipline and manage.
It is crucial that we adults remember that these are all signs of their healthy development. They need to turn away from us and face the world head-on for themselves on their way to becoming adults. This is also a time where the children are becoming sharper thinkers. They are now able to observe with greater perspective, to engage more fully with the content and formulate and organise their own thoughts. They become capable of doing more complex math e.g. Algebra, and Chemistry is introduced as a new challenge for the children. It is remarkable to see how their faculties for thinking and feeling develop as they go through the great transformation of this year.
The Waldorf Curriculum is tailored to meet the children where they are and offers experiences to guide them towards meeting the world with curiosity and enthusiasm.
As the adolescent child grows and their bones strengthen, they become increasingly heavy and very strongly connected to the earth. As there is a tremendous amount of growth taking place the Class Seven child is often fatigued and too tired to do many of the things they used to do. Their sleep rhythms change and they now want to stay up later at night. Their eating habits may change too and it is essential that we ensure they have a healthy and appropriate diet. They may want to spend hours getting ready to make sure they “look good” before leaving the house. We adults must remain vigilant to guide them to have healthy and positive self-images and to pick up any signs of concern.
The Class Seven child is now able to see and observe things from different perspectives. They are waking up to the reality that they can think for themselves, and differently from their parents, eduator, friends even. They become better able to formulate their thoughts in a clearer way and can make very good arguments. This also helps them become expert manipulators when it suits them. They become critical and judgemental of everything around them as they want to create their OWN thoughts. It is no longer enough to have the thoughts of the adults around them. This new thinking capacity means they must be challenged and stimulated to think about concepts in new ways. Their capacity for stronger inner reflection means that they can engage with content on a deeper level. They can now follow more abstract concepts which live in concepts like algebra where one needs pen and paper to solve a problem that can no longer be easily visualised. They want hard facts, they want to share their opinions and they need us to respect this by challenging them in new ways. Ways which show that we see that they are now capable of more. It is very important for the 13 year old to feel seen and heard.
The adolescent is like a pack animal and needs to experience being a part of a group. Yet at the same time, they have a strong desire to stand out and assert WHO THEY ARE. Friendships and relationships with people are incredibly important to the 13 year old child. While this is happening they are also experiencing consciousness of their feeling lives and this with the influence of the hormones makes the adolescent incredibly volatile.
Their moods are extreme and come on very suddenly. Due to this, friendships and relationships can change from moment to moment. They become very intense as they try to navigate the turbulent waters of their feelings. This is a very scary and confusing experience for the child who may retreat from the world at times. The task of the adults around them is to strive to be role models to show them how to behave. And to show them that we are always one step ahead of them.
The overall theme for the year is the area of The Renaissance. If you are an art lover, this year is the year to open your children to Great Works of Art.
As adults we must remember that: They are old enough to know a bit, but not old enough to know ENOUGH.