Later this week, I'm headed in to The Boy's school for the 5th grade maturation program.
I think this is a good idea. I remember when I had my program in 5th grade. I like that you can find the curriculum for Utah's program online, and I like that parents are encouraged to come in for a parent workshop, as well as to stick around for the workshop.
The workshop looks age-appropriate, although I'll have to actually sit through it to see how they handle certain subjects, since it only mentions homosexuality, pre-marital sex, and contraception to say that there is no “advocacy” for any of these things. It will be interesting to see if those subjects are just ignored for now, or if they are actually broached.
But I do like the idea of having the school introduce this subject. These kinds of programs smooth the way for conversations, and they provide a basis for kids to ask questions.
Letting The Boy Decide What He Wants to Talk About
As a parent, it's difficult to decide how to bring up certain subjects. I don't like forcing issues on my son. However, there are things that do need to be talked about. The changes a body goes through as a child ages is one of the things that should be talked about. But many children aren't going to bring it up, and sometimes it's not easy to tackle these issues.
Which is why I'm glad the school has a maturation program. A health professional can talk to parents about it, and talk to the kids about it. Parents can be involved the whole time. And, later, it's possible to talk more about your own views and expectations for your child.
We've tried to create an open environment in which we can talk about most things. If there is something my son hears on the radio (we listen to the news in the morning on the way to school), or reads in the newspaper (he reads it every day), or hears at school, or sees on TV or in a movie, we talk about it if he asks us questions.
This means, since it's been everywhere, we've talked about gay marriage, including talked about whether or not it's right to force others, who want legal protections and status, to adhere to a narrow theological definition of marriage.
We talk about gender issues, politics, the nature of authority, poverty, and just about anything else that comes up, or that he has questions about. So far, though, it hasn't really occurred to our son to ask about changes to his body.
So I'm glad this is coming up. It's something he can learn about, in a scientific manner, and then ask about later. It smooths the way. The information is presented, and it's up to us, as parents, to provide meaning and application.
It's what is great about a public education system: The basic things that kids are expected to know as they age, and the things they are expected to know as adults, are presented to them. Nearly everyone has access to these basics. And then parents can supplement with their values and beliefs to help put that information into context.