Teaching Puberty to 5th Graders

It is tempting to think fifth graders aren’t ready to learn about puberty and sexuality. After all, they’re just children, right? Yes, fifth graders are typically 10 and 11 years old. However, they have many characteristics that make it important to teach them about the changes they will experience, or are already experiencing, as they move through puberty on their way to adulthood. Here are a few to consider. Physical Development: Hormones released into the body trigger the changes of puberty: the…

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Respectful Relationships: Lessons for Life

What are children learning about respect and relationships in the media lately? Think of the images and quotes that are splashed across all forms of media. How will children learn to develop respectful relationships in this environment? Relationships formed in childhood, good or bad, are likely to be repeated as adults unless new skills are learned. Relationships are an important part of life. The old adage, “No man is an island,” is true for every man, woman, and child. Any…

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Media Literacy

Adolescence is a time when… …sexual norms, beliefs, and attitudes are being formed. This makes adolescents particularly susceptible to sexual messages in media, such as television, movies, social media, and music. The parts of their brains that are responsible for critical thinking skills and decision-making are not yet developed, making it difficult for them to analyze these media messages. Studies show that adolescents rely on media as a major source of information. More than 80% report that their peers learn…

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Student Assessment Tool: Student Work

Student assessment is vital to… …student success. Assessing can be defined as “gathering information about someone or something for a purpose.” Collecting student work is one tool for assessing student growth, understanding, and application of learning. By collecting student work over time, students and their teachers can review what has been learned and discuss their stories of student growth. Teachers who discuss student work with each student can develop two of the most authentic skills students need in the real world:…

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May is National Masturbation Month. Now, before you stop reading, please give me a moment to explain why I have decided to make this the topic of the May newsletter for Puberty: The Wonder Years. This might be the first time you have ever heard about this annual event. If so, you aren’t alone. Masturbation is one of those topics that very few people ever talk about. So, it makes sense that its commemorative month would also be largely undiscussed,…

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Sexual Messages & Sexual Assault: How Can Adults Help?

Sexual Messages Elementary children are exposed to countless sexual messages every day, no matter how much adults try to shield them. Television, radio, billboards, internet, video games, clothing styles and slogans, overheard adult conversations: children are awash in the sea of our sexualized culture. As a result, many children are hyper-sexualized. Sexual Assault Among the messages that children receive are some that imply that sexual violence is okay, even desirable. These messages can come from many places, and from popular sources.…

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Parents As Partners in Puberty Education

When teachers and parents form a partnership, children are more likely to form positive attitudes and behaviors regarding puberty and sexuality. In fact, more adolescents say they would like to learn about sexuality from their parents than from any other source. Yet, the educator can do much to engage and equip parents to take on the challenge of talking with their children about sex. Let’s face it: many parents did not have positive models for talking about puberty and sex…

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Evaluation Results for Puberty: The Wonder Years 2010

Evaluation Outcomes Research-Based and Evidence-Informed… Puberty: The Wonder Years was developed to utilize characteristics of evidence-based sexuality education programs and incorporates best-practice strategies for developing positive health behaviors in young people. When selecting sexuality education curriculum, it is important to look for evidence of effectiveness. Puberty: The Wonder Years 2010, the previous edition, has shown very positive evaluation results, including the following: 68% increase in students who have talked with their parents or another trusted adult about puberty 15% increase in…

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Sex Education in Elementary Schools: Gender Segregated or Coed?

I am often asked… …if boys and girls should be separated for sex education, especially in the elementary grades. Pros and cons exist for either approach to sex education in the elementary grades. Gender-Segregated Instruction Pros Cons When boys and girls are in separate classes, they may feel more comfortable asking questions about sex-specific topics, such as menstruation and nocturnal emissions. Some parents and educators are more supportive of teaching boys and girls separately. Instruction may be differentiated more easily to…

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#WhyCare — Jun

While I was working with a group at one of the big ten universities, a grad student shared the story of her 20-year-old roommate Jun, who was also attending the university. Jun’s mother, who lives in China, had never told Jun anything about sex. One night, Jun was drinking alcohol with her then-boyfriend, and he raped her. She was devastated and didn’t know what had happened to her. Fortunately, Jun did not get pregnant. The grad student decided that someone had to talk…

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#WhyCare — Brian

While shopping recently, a young man named Brian helped me select my purchase. In the course of our conversation, I told him about the work I do. He lit up! Brian told me how important it was that I continue to improve sex education for young people in schools. Then, he shared his own story. Brian attended a local school where he was often the target of teasing. However, what really bothered him was that his siblings and cousin were…

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#WhyCare — Jennifer

Recently, a teacher named Jennifer told me this story. When Jennifer was three, she woke up early on Christmas morning. Very excited to begin her day, she burst into her parents’ bedroom to find her mother on top of her father. Her parents shrieked, “Go out! And shut the door!” Later that morning, the family went to church, just as they always did on Sundays. During the children’s sermon, the pastor asked the kids what surprises they found that Christmas…

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What educators are saying

“My students had lots of questions! They thanked me for being willing to teach them about what is happening to them.”



Mike B., Lansing School District

“Puberty: The Wonder Years doesn’t just stick to puberty. The curriculum also includes lessons on topics that I think are necessary, such as bullying and social-emotional components. There’s also a lot of scripting for really good conversation and prompts for the teachers.”

Tim Kordic, Project Advisor for Sexual Health & HIV Prevention, Los Angeles Unified School District

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Health Coordinator of the Year

Health Educator of the Year

Wendy receives her award from the American School Health Association