The Talk Before the Talk

Last week our school district offered an informational meeting about the health classes they are now offering from pre-K through sixth grade. The company that’s done “the talk” classes for 5 & 6th grades is now contracted to started talking to every grade level.

We attended the meeting so that we knew what was going to be discussed at each grade level. I don’t know where the line is for us yet- if there will ever be a lesson where we don’t agree with the information presented. For their preK-3 curriculum, they are nowhere near that line.

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In the preK- grade 3 curriculum, they cover bullying, being a friend, and a nutrition. They name body external body parts, and they name internal organs (non-reproductive). They talk about private parts being private, and what to do if someone makes you feel uncomfortable about your body. As the presenters were going over exactly what body parts were being named, the hands started going up.

Maybe it’s because we’ve always called body parts body parts, maybe it’s because I have a child of each gender, maybe I’m just all kinds of progressive, but I honestly didn’t see what the big deal was. They are introducing four words to the children, and I have a hard time believing that my children are the only two who will already know these words.(I’m not saying this words out loud here, due to creepers who search for such things for non-educational purposes).

People were asking how to opt out of the class because they didn’t want their children to know such things. My mouth hit the floor, Leilan told me to let it go, and I just listened. What I wanted to ask was, “Do you kids go to the bathroom?” “Have they ever been to a swimming pool?” “Do they have siblings or cousins of the opposite gender?” “What the hell do you tell your kid when he asks what ‘that’ is?”

When we left the meeting, we told the children about the class that they’d be having at their schools in the near future. We mentioned all the topics they’d be covering, and said there would be a lesson about the private parts of their bodies too. They were un-phased, and they only had one question- “What about the butt?”

(Which, oddly enough, didn’t come up, and isn’t one of the four body parts they’ll discussing.)

 

23 Replies to “The Talk Before the Talk”

  1. It sounds like most of what they are covering in the lower grades is fine but I think they need to be naming private parts. I believe that should be up to a parent, at that age, as to what they want to call them. Some kids can handle the information maturely and others can’t.

    1. It’s so true about kids being able to accept/digest info at different levels at different ages. I really like that they spelled out exactly what they were going to do- it helps to know!

  2. Great post! With our son we didn’t really use the official names for body parts until he was aroun 8 or 9. Then we had a brief discussion and have since referred to them with their appropriate names. He’s 11 and in the last year, he and his friends have reached the level of joking around about things – including those parts. Boys!

    With our 2 1/2 year old we haven’t used their official names yet either. I think we will sooner with her because she has an older siblings and she has seen and will hear about those terms.

    I am all for incorporating an earlier learning program. When they get to the actual “talk” there will be kids on all different levels of knowledge. I used to run a program in schools where I did the “talk” and it is hard to meet all levels. If you teach it early on at their age level and build upon the subject each year it will not be as overwhelming.

    1. That’s exactly their thinking- start the conversation early. The only body parts I avoided naming with my daughter were the lady parts- mostly because I couldn’t decide what to call them. We’ve recently graduated to the proper terms.

  3. So I went to the intermediate school version of this meeting before they had their talk with the 5th graders. We watched the same video they’d be showing them, and listened as they explained what they would be covering.

    The presenter mentioned that they would also have time with the students set aside for them to ask questions. (I might add that she stressed that they reminded students only questions – not stories. Apparently they LOVE to tell them stories about their parents!) She then asked if we would be interested in knowing what the top questions the students asked were. Of course we were!

    For the girls it was the obvious – a number of variations on “What happens if I get my period at (school, the pool, on the bus, etc). For the boys? “What happens if I get an erection that lasts longer than 4 hours?

    So yeah, they’ve already heard it all!

    1. That’s spectacular. I believe we get some videos next year. This year, the party line is “that’s a great question- you should ask your parents more about that”.

  4. We’ve always used the “real” names for private parts, so that definitely wouldn’t phase me. And I always think that talking about things is better than not talking about them. Kids have questions, and I think they need to know that they can get answers to their questions from trusted adults. Of course, this is coming from the woman who is STILL waiting for her parents to give her “the talk.”

  5. Obviously you know me, Michelle, and we line up pretty similarly on this issue. I’ve always thought that giving private parts “cute” nicknames lends that much more air of silliness to the situation. As in, “tee hee, we can’t mention these parts, because then we’d have to admit that they exist. We just can’t bring ourselves to say them! giggle giggle!” I think the use matter-of-fact medical names normalizes them so the kids don’t have to wonder why their arm is their arm but their bathroom parts have goofy nicknames (which differ from their other friends’ goofy nicknames) and what’s so strange about those parts, anyway.

  6. We have a similar program each year for each grade level then CPR (creating positive relationships- what we called sex ed) for 5th grade and up. I go back and forth. We taught our children the proper names once they could be mature about it, I believe by 6 or 7.
    In each grade level convo our guest gives stories of appropriate touching, hurtful language, threats and abusive touching. The gamut. They are also taught tools to advocate for themselves and to stay safe.
    I go back and forth about CPR. I think there are conversations and education that needs to occur before middle school. I do. But having sat through the boy/girl seminar several years now I’m not sure 5th graders need specific and graphic details of what their genitals are going to be doing over the course of 4-8 years. I mean- the nitty gritty. That’s for me to tell my kids. Not a stranger. Maybe give them the NOW, not make them afraid for the LATER.
    But the flip side is there are kids who freak out because they don’t know what is happening to them and need ‘the talk’.
    There’s just a fine line between helping educate children appropriately and doing the job parents need to do. Educate their own children about the changes that come from getting older. What to expect, how to process it.
    I’m afraid there is no clear answer. But it sounds like your corp has a great program 🙂

    1. You’re right, Heather, there’s definitely that question of what parents should be doing v. what the school should be doing. I’m glad they offer the meetings beforehand so that what’s going to be covered is outlined. So many things can weigh into how kids receive such information- and I know it only gets more complicated as they get older. I’m going to enjoy the “Naming only” class while it lasts 🙂

  7. We call it what it is too. Always have, always will. I think calling our body parts nicknames, either silly bc parents think it’s cute or bc they are embarrassed, makes kids even more uncomfortable with their bodies.

  8. I can’t remember when we first shared with Anna the boy part names but we’ve used the big girl words since the beginning. 😉 We don’t have a sibling of the opposite gender so we have to be more intentional about the fella conversations (why do boys pee standing up, etc.). I do my best to keep things non-chalant even though I have to admit I’m dying on the inside. It’s a balance. I always feel like it’s a good idea to toss out the topic prior to its introduction at school so that your child isn’t horrified. But my hope and prayer is to present it in such a way that there’s no fear mongering (because there will be plenty of that from peers).

    1. Even with a boy and girl, sometimes we get into conversations where I’m thinking “Really?” The other day we had a whole exchange – “Mom, tell him I don’t have one of those!” “Um, girls don’t have those.” “They don’t? Then what do they do?
      “, etc. But being forthright instead of brushing them off, I hope we keep the lines of conversation open!

  9. I do like that at the younger ages they talk about privacy and keeping your body safe. I do understand they should know the names for their parts, but then again I don’t know if I want my little one out in public loudly (only way they talk) using those words..even though they are the correct word they lack tact. I am at a loss for what to call lady parts..I would like to know what they suggest.

    1. Oh they do talk loudly in public, don’t they?!?!?

      In this program, they are focusing on the parts the kids can see- so for the lady parts, it’s the vulva only. The presenter mentioned that in our current culture, that’s not the word most people use, but it’s actually the body part you can see. I’m going with it 🙂

  10. I never had a ‘talk’ growing up, and I know I need to with my oldest (4th gr). I have the American Girl book that everyone says you *have* to have, and the word ‘puberty’ was on like page 2 (not really, but close). So I skipped the sentence and went on to read with her about caring for her hair and skin etc. Then the book’s been put a way for a couple months. #sigh it’s probably time. Why oh why do I dread this?!

    1. We have that book too!! I really like it= Meg’s been reading the parts that don’t have to do with puberty. She did have a moment when she was flipping through the pages and found some information on feminine hygiene products- she was HORRIFIED. I found the book in the back of drawer a few weeks ago. Probably need to put it back on her nightstand….

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