We just finished our last day of our unit on Families and Reproduction. We read through Mary and Elizabeth’s accounts and the entire Christmas story. We studied families in four other countries. And we talked about the importance of families to society and the roles we all fill in our own home. And then, of course, there is the science of it all. Since we had a baby last year, this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about how babies are made. But we did delve deeper into it.
When teaching an 8 year old and a 5 year old on the topic of reproduction you naturally run into a sticky situation on several levels. One obstacle is the fact that they are at very different stages of interest in the topic. For the 5 year old, reproduction is like a magic trick. Put two things together and get a third thing. Cool. He’s pretty happy with that.
For the 8 year old there are more questions and a budding curiosity around the mechanics of the whole thing. We started with cells and DNA, we moved into plants and pollen and ovums, then we mentioned animals and wombs and eggs and sperm and then by the time we got to human babies, it was pretty much old news. He knew what he needed to know. So rather than push him into anatomical knowledge he’s not ready for, I asked him (out of his brother’s earshot) if he had any questions about human baby making. He asked about were milk comes from when breastfeeding, wondered if it hurt to cut the umbilical cord, wanted to know if a uterus was the same as a stomach and if I could feel the babies inside. That was about it.
So, rather than create a sexual mental picture for him that he’s not ready to handle (why do most books for kids immediately illustrate the parents in the bedroom?), I spoke to his scientific side. Neither of the boys was left frustrated nor overexposed. Teaching to their level and not to some sterile standard leaves us all feeling much happier.
I just thought someone might benefit from knowing how I handled it.