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Sex Ed for Homeschoolers

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

The other Sex Ed thread (in Learning at School) got me thinking, what do other homeschooling families do for this?  Especially if you are hsing older children?  Do you just "keep the channels open", do you broach the subject, use a curriculum?  How about Sex Ed classes for hsers?  

 

I'll say that my girls are still young, and we've stuck with just answering questions, and using the great books "It's Not the Stork" and "It's So Amazing".  I haven't pulled out "It's Perfectly Normal", as I'm not sure when the talk about, say, unwanted erections should come up for girls.  The book is recommended for 10 and older.

 

If I sent my girls to ps, I am a parent that would want a fairly comprehensive program, beginning with what one poster in the other thread mentioned, "The only 100% safe sex is no sex" and going from there.  I don't know how you feel about it in public school, but since we don't public school, how do you feel about approaching the subject yourself?  How have you felt, being the teacher for such a potentially difficult subject?

 

So what did you/do you do/plan on doing?

post #2 of 10

I think having books around is a great starting point. Reference books about puberty and sexuality for curious 9- through 13-year-olds. "It's So Amazing" and "The Care and Keeping of You" (I wish there was something just like that for boys) and books like that are really great.

 

Beyond that I think "keeping the channels of communication open" is enough to a point, with a certain type of personality, but it wasn't enough with my two oldest kids once they got into adolescence. They are intensely introverted and private and got emotionally completely shut down when conversation ever veered close to "you might need to know this about your body" or even "I need to know this about your body" (eg. has your period started?). They simply Could. Not. Talk. While dh and I have always been very open and casual about sexual and health information and conversation, there came a time around age 11 when my older kids simply stopped being emotionally capable of engaging in any such conversation. I dunno. They're quirky kids. Something about their extreme sense of personal privacy -- they always denied symptoms of diarrhea too. So I could not leave it to natural conversation, because I could tell that for those kids it was going to be years before they'd be comfortable talking to us about stuff, if ever.

 

So I shipped them both off somewhere that they could have the opportunity, in a situation of relative anonymity, to ask questions. I got ds into a sexual health seminar for homeschooled high schoolers, that happened to include just three boys that year. With dd I took her to a different branch of the sexual health clinic I work for and let her go through their education session with strangers. I don't know how much they disclosed or learned in those specific encounters, but I know that it was really important for them to have the experience procuring health information independently -- to understand that those doors are open, that avenues like those are readily available. I know that dd did subsequently (a year or two later) attend a clinic to get a prescription for oral contraceptives when she was considering becoming sexually active. 

 

My younger two girls are much more forthcoming with their personal health stuff. They're still quite reserved, but to a degree that we can still work past when they have questions or concerns. I don't think they'll necessarily need that independent contact with a sexual health educator outside the family. But I'm going to make sure they get it anyway: it's a form of insurance. Actually dd14 who now goes to school has already had it at school. Dd10, still homeschooled .... I'll make sure she attends a clinic or seminar somewhere.

 

ETA: I think the time for access to an outside clinic or a seminar is not at age 9 or 10, but rather a year or so before you think your child could conceivably need or want to independently seek health care. I see it as a step along the route to taking independent responsibility for one's ownhealth, seeing the doctor alone, carrying your own health insurance card, etc.

 

Miranda


Edited by moominmamma - 9/6/13 at 10:45am
post #3 of 10

I bought the books and have allowed the girls to read/ask/etc as much as they want.  I also sit with each of them and go over things I want them to know.  So far, none of them are very reluctant to ask or share.  I am happy about that, I don't want them to feel uncomfortable.  Recently, my oldest and I have great talks while walking the dogs.  It is a really relaxed time, no one is around, and (while she has never been bashful) she can ask things without looking me in the eye.  :-)  It has been great.  We will also use videos if I think they are beneficial.  Really, the best thing when they are young is to establish the trust of your children.  I think it makes everyone more comfortable with these conversations when there is trust.  Also, if you aren't comfortable talking about it, work really hard to get more comfortable --or perhaps find things to help you.

 

FWIW the sex ed at our local school is pretty lame.  

 

Amy

post #4 of 10

:lurk

post #5 of 10
Moominmamma, at what age did you arrange the clinics for your older children? And how did you present it to them?
I'm so glad I stumbled accross your post! You describe my 11yo to a tee...it's something that's really worried us and caused me not a little guilt. I thought I was doing everything right with openness and candor...only to have her suddenly run crying with hands over ears at the slightest hint of information coming her way. It's really a load off my mind that she's not the only one.
post #6 of 10

Dd was 16, ds was 15. That was just when it worked out for us to get access to those resources. Dd had by then weathered some considerable stress around having got her period at just shy of 12, and not being able/willing to disclose or discuss in order to get a handle on how to deal with it. I kept throwing information her way, but I'm not sure she was able to take it in, and information is so much better if it's meaningfully tailored to the particular situation, and she wouldn't let me see the slightest hint of what her situation was. I swore I wasn't going to let her (or her brother) cross the cusp of becoming sexually active in the same blind, solitary way! 

 

That same dd, now 19, did make a casual joke about women and periods recently when she was home visiting. It's the first time she's ever given a hint that she has bodily functions pertaining to the reproductive system. Ahhh... with maturity her reserve is beginning to soften ever so slightly!

 

Miranda

post #7 of 10

Our church offers comprehensive sex education through a program called Our Whole Lives. We will encourage our children to attend.

post #8 of 10
Interesting thread! I dipped into the other one as a moderator, but it was sprawling and I didn't read it all.

My kids are almost 5 yo and almost 2 yo, so that's where I'm coming from so far.
That said, my mom was a Planned Parenthood educator in the community we went to school in, which was a heavily fundamentalist Christian town that was adamant about not including anything beyond abstinence as part of any curriculum. She got death threats when she advocated or free condoms in the school.

Not only did we have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in the country and a daycare in the highschool to accomodate teen moms, but also a lot of sexual abuse, homophobia, and rape.

I'm already answering questions with my oldest, starting with conception and how babies are made. That's a big question in our house, considering we adopted our kids as embryos from another lesbian couple who'd used anonymous donor sperm with one of the women's eggs, and the other woman carrying. Figure that out one.

We've also had to talk about condoms, because we find them on occasion in our city parks. Just yesterday, at the Not Back To School picnic, in fact! DD ran up to me dangling a used condom between her finger and thumb and said, "Is this one of those things I'm not supposed to pick up? I picked it up because a little boy was about to put it in his mouth." I had her drop it, and when she asked why, I explained (again) that "men put it on their penis when they have intercourse, and that it might be dirty or have germs." She asked if they peed in it, so I said no. She said what the stuff inside was, so I said, "It's sperm, which comes out of the penis during sex, and sometimes it can carry germs." I reminded her that when she sees one she can shout for a trusted adult to come help, and if a small child is going for it, maybe step on it or use a stick to flick it out of the way. Several other kids had followed her, and heard what I said. Now, would their parents be okay with that? Will they go ask questions that make their parents uncomfortable? The little boy who was about to put it in his mouth was there, and he heard what I said. He thought it was a balloon. His mom let him listen to my explanation and then she showed the kids as she safely picked it up with a plastic bag covering her hand and took both kids to wash their hands, calmly and with no alarm (I was stuck with my littlest one napping in my lap).

So, answering honestly and calmly and entirely without hyperbole, hysteria or fearmongering, and going from her questions. No more than she asks about unless it's a matter of safety or developmental readiness, no less. But honest. That's my plan for the future too. Be open for discussion and utterly askable.

Another mom in our community does an Askable Adult workshop that covers everything from sexual health to stranger danger and all the self-awareness and gut instinct in between. She aims it at parents, so that they can be a better and more open and accessible resource to their kids, while tailoring what and when they discuss these things within their family.

In our inner-city neighbourhood, it's far more important to know about dirty needles and condoms in the parks before even having the most basic understanding about what people use those things for. I teach a sharps workshop for families in the parks, and show needles and IV drug paraphenalia and condoms to children as small as 18 months and as old as teens, tailoring the talk to the ages present and sometimes breaking them into peer groups. I also offer the items to parents to have private discussions with their kids if they'd rather do it themselves. Often, they like having an 'authority' do the talking, or someone other than a parent. But some parents take the chance to show the items to their children and simply tell them to never touch them, with no other explanation. I do think they're doing their children a disservice, even though I understand their reticence.
post #9 of 10

I'm in a somewhat unique situation. I'm a single mom to two boys, and due to their father have some serious sexual issues that I feel (without going into detail) prohibit him from being an acceptable resource about sex, I'm essentially their only option.

 

The first thing I have done, long before homeschooling was even on the table for us, was to make sure that my boys knew they could talk to me about about absolutely anything - no matter what it was, no matter how embarrassing (whether for him, or me, or both), no matter how personal, even if they thought it might upset me. I always made sure they understood that even if it were to upset me, I will set aside my upset to answer their questions, and they will never be punished for asking questions.

 

I've also made sure that there are other options, though they are slightly less desirable to them, for the boys to talk to. My father is one. They know they can go to him, and while none of them will be at all comfortable, he will talk to them. They also know that, unless they go to him with something like "I got a girl pregnant" or "I think I got an STD", he will keep their confidence and not tell me what they discuss. If neither myself or my father are considered a good option by them, they also know that I will set up a doctor's appointment or find them a class somewhere.

 

My boys are now 9 (almost 10) and 12. My 9 yr old has not yet begun to think about sex or hit puberty. My 12 yr old is in the midst of full-blown puberty and he does have questions. He does ask me and I check in with him now and then and ask him if he has any questions. I began talking to him about puberty (about body hair, body changes, erections, masturbation {mostly making sure he has privacy}, etc) before he actually reached the point where it would be happening to him. It was rather awkward, but we muddled through and I think he feels good about where he is - well, as good as any kid in puberty ever feels, anyway. lol

 

Thus far, we haven't covered much about what happens to girls. I feel it's important for them to know, to understand how a woman's body works, but at this point, I think the more crucial thing is for him to understand his own body. I figure when he's gotten a bit further into puberty and has a better understanding of his own body, then we can begin to discuss what girls go through and how their bodies specifically work. They do have a basic understanding of how pregnancy works, but not all the nitty-gritty details just yet.

post #10 of 10

We've got "It's Amazing" and a couple of other books. The Kingfisher book on Anatomy for little kids actually covered the topic -- much to my surprise! -- quite well for my kids when they were in 2nd/3rd grade.

 

I talk about sex fairly often to my, now teen, boys. It comes up in lyrics that we hear, in movie scenes, and in our studies. In World Geography, we talk about family planning and about the politics of that and the social ramifications for women. So many women around the world have no access to birth control and don't know how their bodies work.

 

I'm a Christian, and I'm also a strong believer in birth control access for all who desire it and education for all people. My boys and I have had open discussions about sex and dating, abortion, birth control, cultural exploitation of women, the importance of openly accepting homosexuality, etc. No topic is taboo, and they can disagree with me -- they do sometimes. That's my main goal -- we talk.

 

peace,

teastaigh

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