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“Dear Mrs. Taylor, We’re moving in March so I was wondering if you could teach puberty before we move?”
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.
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.
Go back and reread last week’s post on talking to your kids on sex.
Then, check out these books on puberty (recommended 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.
It’s Not the Stork - suggestion from Cami Chaplick
What’s the Big Secret? by D.A. Brown (of Arthur fame) recommended by Gina Warner who said it “is excellent and can be used in bits and pieces depending on how ready the child is for different parts of puberty. The illustrations are helpful too in keeping them interested.”
More book suggestions from PBS Kids.
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, horribly true!) then you can talk to your kids in the privacy of your own home.