Fifth grade is referred to as the “golden year” because students at this age are enthusiastic about learning, eager for new challenges and capable of hard work and creativity.
A sense of self-consciousness emerges, yet they remain confident and harmonious with their surroundings.
They develop an ordered sense of space and time, and hold a deeper understanding of personal responsibility and the ethics of right and wrong.
Physically the 11-year-old reflects this inner feeling of harmony and balance. They have an ease and grace in their movement that is well co-ordinated and controlled.
They grow in length and strength. Their bodies are well proportioned, breathing and heart rhythms are regular.
It is during these middle years that the feeling life of the child develops and the lessons are therefore imbued with arts and imagination. During the ‘nine-year transformation’ during the previous year, the child experienced the I/Thou relationship with the world for the first time – self and other, subject and object. During this tenth/eleventh year, this awareness of ‘self’ strengthens. The children must take hold of this new emerging ego, control it and steer it. Alongside this individuation process, a strong group dynamic is also created within the class. In the strong feeling life, which characterises children at this age, the foundation for interest in and enthusiasm for one’s work, the world and others is laid and this is where the deepest human values are determined.
Strong and vivid pictures of ancient histories and mythologies are presented. What was the inspiration and impetus of their civilising forces? At this age, rhythmical memory is at its strongest. Out of this growing memory, the sense of time develops. Memory enables one to look back and to plan the future.
The transition from myth to history is made: a place in the stream of time develops for each child. While history streams inwards towards the here and now, geography streams outwards from the immediate environment. The various regions and landscapes of South Africa are described, how climatic conditions have affected vegetation, human and animal migrations, populations, industries, farming and so on. Important mountains, rivers, oceans and communication routes are studied. Map drawing is extended, models are built and use is made of wall maps and atlases.
In Natural Sciences, the soul finds expression in the beauty of form, gesture and colour in the Plant Kingdom. The Grade 5 child has a lively interest in, and curiosity about, the outer, living world. Lessons are imbued with liveliness and feeling, rather than being a presentation of dry, academic facts.
In Grade 4, when the children experience the ‘nine year transformation’, the corresponding approach in Maths was that the ‘whole’ can be broken up into parts or fractions. In Grade 5, decimal fractions are introduced and the connections between decimal and common fractions made. The Grade 5s practice mental arithmetic constantly, rhythmically and with movement. They also work with the four operations while working with place value.