Articles: The Case for Starting Sex Education in Kindergarten & Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Surviving Sex Ed Today

[Two weeks ago we began a health class with the 8th graders. We’re planning to cover topics like healthy relationships, peer pressure, body image, drugs, alcohol, and, of course, sex. We approached the super-awesome-shoot-from-the-hip nurse to help us out with the sex talk. We split the grade by gender (gender is a binary at our school) and the boys started with the nurse. Things did not go well. They were (apparently) rude and gross and uninformed and offensive. The nurse was livid and we were nervous about the girls’ turn. The girls were giggly and chatty and uninformed and naive. To my mind, these are two different reactions to the same phenomenon: what we have undertaken in the last few weeks of school is too little, too late. Both groups are woefully uninformed or misinformed; it simply manifests itself differently with the boys group and the girls group. As we were in the midst of this, I found these two articles. The Netherlands has a curriculum that, at least from this article, seems excellent. And the teacher in the Bronx is walking that line between information and values that I struggled with. Not the first time I’ve thought about these topics with you. P.S. I’ve only copied the first little bit of each article so follow the links in the titles or click on “continue reading” for the rest.]

The Case for Starting Sex Education in Kindergarten

Spring Fever class discussion

“Who here has been in love?” Anniek Pheifer asks a crowd of Dutch elementary school students.

It’s a Spring morning in Utrecht, and the St. Jan de Doper elementary school gym is decked in heart-shaped balloons and streamers. Pheifer and Pepijn Gunneweg are hosts of a kids television program in the Netherlands, and they’re performing a song about having a crush.

Kids giggle at the question. Hands — little and bigger — shoot up.

Welcome to “Spring Fever” week in primary schools across the Netherlands, the week of focused sex ed classes… for 4-year olds. Continue reading →

Beyond the Birds and the Bees: Surviving Sex Ed Today

Sexual and reproductive educator Lena Solow teaches students in the Bronx during an after-school class.

{Sexual and reproductive educator Lena Solow teaches students in the Bronx during an after-school class. Christopher Gregory for NPR}

It’s after hours at Rafael Hernandez, an elementary school in the Bronx, and Room 421 is in an uproar.

It’s what you would expect from a sixth-grade sex education class learning how to put a condom on.

Sex education: The very concept makes a lot of people cringe, conjuring images of teenage giggles and discomfort. It’s also a subject a lot of teachers would rather avoid.

But Bronx-based teacher Lena Solow is more than happy to talk about the birds, the bees … and beyond. Continue reading →

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