I taught puberty to my 5th graders for many years. For the majority of my students, it was new information. (As implied by the letter above.) And, for some students, it was too late. About 15% of girls are starting puberty as young as age seven!
My students felt like they could ask me anything because they trusted and knew me. Most questions I answered. But, some questions should be answered by a parent, not a teacher.
“What do you do if you get your period at school?”
“Why do you get pimples?”
“Mrs. Taylor, how do lesbians have babies?”
“Does sex hurt?”
I assigned parents the homework of talking to their children about everything. Because we know that learners can’t just hear about something once and understand, they need repetition and context to remember.
Talking about Puberty
But, don’t forget that another part of a child’s puberty education is the mis-education at recess.
When the Clinton and Lewinsky scandal made national news, many of my families, for obvious reasons, didn’t let their kids see the newspaper or the television news. But, despite their best efforts, it only took one kid in my class, who knew about the cigar incident, and everyone knew a version of what happened. Pretty soon, my 5th graders new more than I did — yuck!
So, let me gently remind you that you if your children are to understand the correct information about their bodies, it needs to come from you and more than once. Otherwise, they’ll get information from other sources, some correct and some not.
One of the best ways to talk to your kids about uncomfortable issues is to do it in the car. This scenaro means you don’t have to make eye contact. That makes is MUCH easier for them, as well as you.
Another way is to read a book together. (Side by side also means you don’t necessarily have to make eye contact — easier for the kids if they feel uncomfortable.) A book gives you an outline for what to talk about.
Books About Puberty
Then, check out these books on puberty (recommended by readers on the Imagination Soup Facebook page) and start the discussion about puberty with both boys and girls. And, talk about changes to the other gender as well.
Read the books WITH your kids. Then talk about what you read.
You might say, “This is uncomfortable to talk about isn’t it? But it’s part of growing up and understanding our bodies.”
Also, you could say, “Let’s get our giggles out now. Ready, go.”
It’s Not the Stork by Robie Harris
Ready, Set, Grow (for girls) by Lynda Madaras (for boys)
It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie H. Harris (for boys and girls) – recommended from Evangelina Valencia
The Boy’s Body Book by Kelli Dunham
What’s Happening to My Body? Book for Girls by Lynda Madaras
Get over the giggles and just do it. (If I could teach my class the parts of the male anatomy while being observed by my vice-principal (yes, true story!) then you can talk to your kids in the privacy of your own home. I promise.)