At Nine

I originally wrote this piece for Of Dragons and Angels. The children have pseudonyms because this is not their story; it is my story of being a parent. This the sixth year of my journey as a Meadowbrook parent and I am continually delighted by, and grateful for my fellow travelers. A heartfelt ‘Thank You ‘to all who share this path. Beth Riungu.

On opening day of 3rd grade with her teacher.

On a golden, play-filled, end of summer day my daughter turned nine. Packing the picnic things ready for home I became aware of her running at the edge of the park. A game of hide and seek I think, her lengthening shadow flitting between the trees. The still green leaves seem to hold their breath, reminded by early evening’s crimson tones that a change of season is at hand. I feel it too.

Parents at Waldorf schools hear much about the Nine Year Change; a distinct developmental phase characterized by the child’s more realistic or critical outlook as he begins to move away from the dreamy world of early childhood. Class teachers prepare us to recognize the child’s growing consciousness of his individuality; of being part of the family and the world yet separate from both. We are given notice of the unsettling new realities both we and our child will experience with this realization of Self and the ambivalent yearning for independence it may provoke.

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Parenting as Practice

 

Renee is a Meadowbrook parent and yoga teacher. In this article she writes about her experience of fusing these two identities in a time of crisis with surprising results. 

Friday afternoon I got a phone call from school. It’s always unnerving to see the school’s number pop-up on the phone. Then, the word nobody wants to hear: Lice. Nits were found in my daughter’s hair. By the time I arrived at school to pick her up, all three of my children were waiting for me. All infested. So much for long weekend plans.

If you’ve ever had to comb nits out of a child’s hair, you know where the term nit-picking comes from. It’s a tedious and tiresome task. An off-the-mat, long-hold, life experience requiring patience and focus. Thanks to yoga practice, I found myself asking (praying really): How can I see this differently? What if I showed up to this task completely present? Without expectation or judgment.

My son is 13. Changing – what seems like overnight – into a young man. He has little interest in conversation with his mom these days – or – even if he did - he’s hard pressed to get a word in with two boisterous sisters. Our nit-picking session started out in silence with an occasional one-word answer to my random questions. We were on our deck, the sun giving us the best light. Perhaps it was the unseasonable heat that caused things to shift, because just like in yoga, the warmer it got, the more we opened up. He started talking first about baseball – his favorite sport – and – although I’m not quite sure how we ended up where we did – before I knew it, we were having the discussion I had been putting off – about puberty and girls and how babies were made. The need for me to keep my eyes on his hair seemed to put us both at ease. He asked questions and we both spoke freely. I am grateful for the time with him.

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Swinging for the Outfield: an introduction to the nine year change.

“And to the extent to which he feels separate from the world he seeks knowledge of it. …Past and future states of being are seen wrestling with each other, perhaps more clearly than at any other period of childhood.” (M. Spock)

Parents at Waldorf schools hear much about the Nine Year Change, a distinct developmental change characterized by the child’s more realistic or critical outlook as he begins to move away from the dreamy world of early childhood. The growing consciousness of being an individual, present in the world yet separate from it can be unsettling. Parents and teachers may find themselves the objects of exacting, even hyper-critical assessment. Once familiar situations are now reviewed and carefully weighed in light of emerging realities the child is awakening to as the world comes into sharper focus. Some people see this as a brief glimpse of adolescence.

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Leading Children Back to the Future in the Waldorf Classroom.

 

This piece was written by Jack Petrash, a respected author and highly entertaining speaker on Waldorf education. Petrash founded the Nova Institute as a resource and support for those seeking to use Waldorf methods in public and mainstream settings. He is currently in grade 5 of his fourth go-around as a class teacher at the Washington Waldorf School, MD.

Each morning when I open the door and step into my first grade room, I immediately feel at home. I am so fond of my classroom – the plants by the windows, the children’s watercolor paintings brightening the walls, the wooden desks and chairs all ordered and arranged to face the blackboard . I like to think that this classroom is lovelier than the one I entered as a child, but the truth is that there is something about my room that at first glance is similar to the classrooms of the past. Continue reading →