Thursday, 11 May 2017

The Health Curriculum and Why Parents don’t need to worry (as much).

Open Letter to My Grade 5 Parents:

We are about to start our Health Unit on Human Development. This is often dubbed the “Sex Ed” curriculum and is the one that has created concern for some parents. Please realize that much of that concern is because the facts have been misrepresented. Last year, I read a note that was being circulated in my community. I was shocked to see how much it distorted the facts. It seemed as if it was intentionally designed to frighten parents about what will be covered in class. Hopefully, I can alleviate any concerns with the following information about the specifics of the Grade 5 curriculum.

Look here for more information (Pages 160 - 162 on the PDF).

First off - the curriculum did not change much in Grade 5. There is a lot of information out there to suggest that this is an entirely different program - it is almost the same as it was 20 years ago.

Here is what it said in 1998 (When I taught my first Grade 5 class)
  1. describe the secondary physical changes at puberty (e.g., growth of body hair, changes in body shape).
  2. describe the processes of menstruation and spermatogenesis.
  3. describe the increasing importance of personal hygiene following puberty.

Here is what it says now
  1. identify the parts of the reproductive system, and describe how the body changes during puberty.
  2. describe the processes of menstruation and spermatogenesis, and explain how these processes relate to reproduction and overall development.
  3. describe emotional and interpersonal stresses related to puberty.

Some other facts to put your mind at ease

  • We just finished a unit on human body systems and have already talked about a lot of our inner workings (including all the less pleasant parts of our digestive system). Consequently, the students are familiar with the fact that we talk about the human body like scientists - uncovering the secrets of many systems that help us function.

  • Remember that the curriculum is not delivered by a robot. There is a caring, responsible adult who exists between the curriculum and your student. I want your student to be an informed pre-teen who is prepared for the changes that will happen in their bodies. I want them to be considerate, compassionate citizens who will treat others and themselves with respect, patience and kindness. I take great care to craft my lessons and presentations in a way that is honest and as comfortable as possible.

  • For you, the curriculum is about your kid, but it is actually written for all kids. Specifically, it written to provide important information to children who would not get this information outside a classroom. A young person’s best advantage when navigating the pitfalls that come with a changing body is knowing the facts. Life changing, and even life ending, mistakes are best prevented by education.

As a final note, I will understand completely if you wish to remove your student from class during these lessons. It is your prerogative to provide this education to them in the way in which you see fit. Drop me a line, and I will let you know the exact periods (to the minute) in which this instruction will take place. You will need to sign your student out at the office and return them for the next period if possible.

However, I will warn you that they will likely ask their friends what was said while they were away. They are naturally curious - which is one of their greatest gifts. I would much prefer that they hear the facts directly from me and not second-hand, through the filter of students who, themselves, are just becoming familiar with this new information.


Marc Hodgkinson
Grade 5 Teacher

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