What a great year, delivering my Program to so many schools in the Northern Rivers!
It was a delight to meet all the kids from Corrabel, Goonengerry,Main Arm, Clunes and Bangalow and take this journey of discovery together, a journey which proved to be fun, embarrassing (for them sometimes!), informative and creative.
My framework around sexuality education is one of inclusion, openness, safety and developmentally appropriate information and activities. A teacher is always present throughout sessions. I am often guided by questions children want to know and include an anonymous question box throughout the day, a highly popular aspect of this learning which allows for honesty, flexibility and openness. My framework is directed by the NSW Curriculum and I use www.thehormonefactory.com as a constant guide and interactive tool. If your child has further queries it would be a useful resource for you to use together.
We followed this framework to discuss and learn about the physical changes throughout puberty and to look at reproduction and the body. There were lots of groans and moans when discussing and labelling body parts and functions, but I attempted to encourage these feelings as normal while balancing the importance of understanding their developing and ever-changing body. We also looked at the positives that come with puberty including independence and maturity.
My more creative work came in the form of drama and art therapy and kids trouble-shooting future stressors they identified for their teenage self, including identifying early warning signs of danger, combatting peer relationships and difficulties, and managing peer pressure. The children were amazing at being able to problem solve and remained committed to supporting themselves and their friends. I believe early identification and intervention at this age better prepares them for the future. We looked at strategies for developing a self-care tool kit and identifying internal and external resources that enable a healthy self-esteem. I encouraged kids to use the un-comfortability thermometer, which helps them on a scale of 1-10 rate their feelings, I’ve often found kids respond well to using a scale rather than identifying how they feel. It also gives them a sense of mastery around how do I get the feeling down? What helps me reset? The kids came up with an abundant number of tools they use when feeling dysregulated like reading, pets, talking to a trusted adult, going to their room, writing, jumping on the trampoline etc.
There were lots of questions in regards to reproduction, sex, contraception, bodily functions and personal boundaries. My sexuality education program includes focus on relational aspects of human connection, both with the self and each other in coming to understand concepts of consent, connection and healthy relationships. We also looked at the impact on youth culture in regards to social media, staying safe and pornography exposure.
All feedback from the anonymous evaluations was positive. Sexuality information will induce uncomfortable and embarrassing feelings for all of us , yet Adoles-sense provides a safe space for us to learn together. This age is a moment to capture engagement before they journey towards some disconnection from parents and caregivers during adolescence and the high school years.
Some feedback from Clunes:
Hi Jane, thank you for the Y5 & y6 workshops. The children enjoyed them and found it very informative. It was obvious that the children felt comfortable enough to ask you sensitive and personal questions. Well done on building such a trusting and open rapport with them. I also thought the teaching resources you used were relevant and appropriate to the cohort
Clunes PS Principal