First Grade and the Seven Year Old

By Waldorf Teacher, Diane Power
This article is exclusive to and copyright

I sincerely believe that for the child, and for the parents seeking to guide him, it is not half so important to “know” as to “feel.” If facts are the seeds that later produce knowledge and wisdom, then the motions and impressions of the senses are the fertile soil in which the seeds must grow. – Rachel Carson

The first grader is leaving behind the early childhood years and moving forward to the highly anticipated life in the grades. The child, most assuredly with a bright twinkle in their eye, can’t wait to begin LEARNING! This readiness is usually indicated by the beginning loss of the baby teeth. The physical body has completed a seven‐year cycle of formation and now has freed new faculties to work with the mind.

Memory becomes conscious – whereas the younger child’s memory needs to be triggered by a sight, a smell, or a verse, the older child can find a memory and recall it at will.

A new seven‐year cycle is beginning for the child; a cycle that sees the most physical growth happening in the trunk or mid‐section. The heart/lung/rhythmic system is taking center stage. What does this require of us as educators? Recall your own childhood and what brought you pleasure, what your interests were, the stories that you created while you played alone and with friends. Imagine that everything is possible; that there are hidden meanings, languages, and signs everywhere in the world around you. Here is where you will find the seven‐year old.

The feeling life of the child is expanding. Now the child can create living pictures from the things he or she hears. Imagination blossoms, swinging from “good guys” to “bad guys,” the courageous to the cowardly and from the beautiful to the ugly. Magically, the fairy tales of grade one bring “a world of suns and moons and forests, of princesses and goose girls, of old men and women, benign and malign, of talking birds and flying horses, magic roses and magic puddings, turnips and pigs, impenetrable castles and petrification, glass mountains and glass coffins, poisonous apples and blinding thorns, ogres and imps, spindles and spun gold, tasks and prohibitions, danger and comfort (for the good people) after it.” (AS Byatt)

Our role, as parents and educators, is to protect and defend the child’s burgeoning imagination. By limiting screen time, increasing nature time and unstructured play, the child can immerse themselves in a magical fantasy life where anything can happen. Language and vocabulary increase as well as physical coordination and imagination. Creating pictures within the imagination that live and breathe is strongly needed in our time to heal intellectualized, overstimulated and over‐anxious children.

The secrets of nature, the underlying laws of life, must be taught the boy or girl not in dry intellectual concepts but in symbols, in pictures, so that the child feels and divines them. – Rudolf Steiner

As the World makes herself known to the child, joyfully he or she will dive in with gusto! A seven‐year old may try to do too much, too quickly, or have very high expectations of what they can learn and how quickly. Balance through a rhythmic day is very important to enable the child to continue learning with enthusiasm. Sleep, movement, especially outdoors, art and music all nourish this awakening soul that is in your care.

With your feet immersed in the magic water of life, grab the hand of your precious child and reach for the brilliant stars that are beckoning with wisdom and knowledge. An open heart, a questioning mind, and willing hands are all you need for the journey.

Need First Grade Curriculum?

Earthschooling first grade supplies everything you need to nurture your growing first grader including Eurythmy lessons, teacher tutorials, wet-on-wet watercolor, block crayon drawing tutorials, complete lesson plans, weekly planners that tell you specifically what to do each day of the year and even MP3s of your verses. See the complete list and some free samples HERE.

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