Third Grade

As children turn nine, they begin to see the world differently. Before this time, children experience little separation between themselves and their environment. They were one with the world. Now they suddenly feel they are at the edge of the world, looking in wondering, “Where is my place?” Some call this the turning point of childhood.

Life takes on quite a different quality, as an experience arises of self as something independent of everything else. The child may suddenly feel very insecure; their relationship with nature, eternity, others, and themselves must be reestablished. As a new inner life develops, they gradually begin to realize their individuality. Parents may notice their children becoming more critical and beginning to question everything. Feelings of loneliness, discomfort, and apprehension are common.

We find the reflection of the children’s inner experiences in the stories of the Old Testament. Adam and Eve had to leave the Garden of Eden, and third-grade students have a strong realization that they must one day leave the family home and make their way in the world.

As children explore the stories of firm authority and rebellion, of breaking from the community and finding one’s way back, they find ways to move through the developmental challenges of nine and into a new harmony with themselves and their environment. They have left behind the “paradise” of early childhood, and now they can choose to do what is moral or not, thereby attaining virtue and progress as human beings. While closely paralleling the child’s own experiences, these stories also introduce history.

For the third-grader, the remedy for being “cast out of Eden” is experiencing the world as a good place to be. Through the activities of gardening, cooking, building shelters, and making clothing, they learn that they can use what is around them to thrive.

They meet the world around them and discover they have the power to transform it. There are skills they must learn. They learn to measure, weigh, use tools, plant and harvest crops, follow the seasons, and keep time.

They gain comfort, confidence, and joy with each skill learned. The Earth is their home, and it is sound and beautiful.

Children of this age have a strong need to experience providing the necessities of life for themselves. To that end, we offer an immersive study of farming, gardening, food preparation, and shelter building, which becomes the content of their language arts and math lessons. These subjects fulfill a basic need in children of this age to do something, be competent people, and understand how to care for themselves.

They experience the balance of working together and working alone, building a foundation for a lifetime of self-reliance – not just physically but also emotionally.

For children who are 8 by May 1st, 2024

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