Referring back to my last post about traits of the earlier planes of development recurring once the child moves to a later plane, made me think hard about the behaviours that my eldest (particularly last year) displayed as he moved from 11 - 12years.
Of course, this can't all, by some miracle, be put down to him stepping over that imaginary boundary from childhood into puberty, some of it is also down to a transition from primary school to secondary and with that, a huge amount more homework, responsibility, kit to carry, hours in school etc.
However, the one thing that frustrated me the most until I re read Montessori's philosophy on the four planes of development, was the fact he was so disorganised and forgetful. Particularly when, at two, he would spend hours lining up his cars, at six was methodically working through his work diary to complete the things that needed doing in his school day...
How can you go to school wearing two shoes, and come home with your trainers on but only one shoe in your bag?
How can you forget your homework that you were told to put in your bag straightaway?
How can you forget to take in your swimming kit for the day when you ALWAYS have swimming?
How can you be so tearful about something that seems contrite and in the next minute, you're fine again?
How can you possibly have so many colds?
And how can your eczema be so bad again? It's not been this bad since you were three!
So, I re read what she said about the 12 - 15 age group. How they were prone to mood swings and erratic behaviours, about how they lapsed in concentration and how, she in fact compared this period much like the toddler period of 3 - 6
The toddler becomes engrossed in activities and, if they are not ready to complete the task when asked, there can be quite a tantrum ensuing. They can go to the park with their favourite toy, but easily leave said toy behind on the swing.
Interestingly she states that the period from 12 - 18 is "the period of life in which physical maturity is attained is a delicate and difficult time, because of the rapid development and change which the organism must go through." (From Childhood to Adolescence as cited by Camillo Grazzini in the NAMTA journal Vo.20 no. 1 2004)
She not only means that the child can go through periods of physical illness, but there is likely to spiritual sickness too. It rings true that the teen is more susceptible to glandular fever or meningitis at this time, just like the toddler was at more risk for these illnesses before the age of 5, than any other. Then there being huge hormonal changes that will bring around mental confusion.
So, it is with care and dilligence that my approach toward my newly developing teen is prepared as much as I can, with some reference back to how I would have approached a situation when he was three or four.
If he needed to remember things, I would have continually reminded him, so together we have all made place mats for breakfast time that I've laminated. On these are the lists of all the things they individually need to remember to take with them each day. We are preparing as much as possible the night before. There is still a strong element of structure and order to our home so that they know where things are in order to find them and put them back. They have chores which, I have been giving to them as a lump ie: they need to clean and feed the guinea pigs, dry up, get in the eggs, however, I am realising that it might be easier for them if the jobs were directly allocated so that each child had one area in which to care.
I have also made a concerted effort to give him vitamins each morning to limit the colds and 'maladies' that he gets.
I'm still incredibly fastidious about what goes into his body as I believe that much of their outer personality comes from their inner health (spiritual and physical). He currently keeps a food diary as we are eliminating dairy as a trial period to see whether his eczema improves, it also gives him a good overview as to his mood and sluggishness to see if what he has eaten may have had an effect.
I'm know there is a huge learning curve for all of us, but this is a start.
I know that our schooling system in the UK, does not cater sufficiently for this change in children at secondary school. At a time when they need to grow and sleep, they are on buses at 8am in the morning and working until 8pm at night. At a time when they need to be able to almost go through sensitive periods again, where boys, in particular, need to move to learn; they are put in rows behind desks and taught the same things for the same exams regardless of what they 'want' to learn. I think we have chosen a good school for our eldest. It appears to be nurturing and the pastoral care is outstanding. There are a huge range of activities on offer for them, although emphasis is, naturally, on striving to do the best they can.
There is a good grounding in truth and respect for others. There is a LOT of time spent outside, physical education, gardening and farming (yes, my son's school is getting cows!!! I was thrilled - but sadly they don't offer animal husbandry and horticulture lessons to the parents!) so they are aware of the need to engage in reality. If we can continue to foster his needs at home, he will become a good man.