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Teaching Sexual Health - Birth to 6 year olds

As a parent, you know that understanding your child and their development is one of the most important things you can learn. Follow the links provided to find information about all the developmental milestones- physical, sexual, emotional, cognitive and social- from birth up to 18 years of age. This includes the key topics or ideas your child should know at different ages, and how you can help them with that learning, at every age.

Birth to 2 Years

Understanding Your Child’s Development

Welcome to the world of parenting! Your child will go through many changes in just a couple of years. Your child’s development will follow a pattern. As babies grows, they’re able to do more—recognize people, hold things, sit up, crawl, stand and eventually walk. As they become a toddler, they will have constant energy and  strong feelings. They will also start to question everything around them. Learning about your child at this age will help you to understand their development. Read more about what your child’s going through in this stage of development.

What Your Child Needs Your Help to Learn

In these early years, your child will need your help to understand their emotions and their bodies. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Teach your child that their body is private.
  • Use the correct names for body parts including genitals and reproductive organs: penis, testicles, scrotum, anus, vulva, labia, vagina, clitoris, uterus and ovaries (Knowing the correct names for body parts promotes positive body image, self-confidence, and parent-child communication. It also gives children the language they need to tell a trusted adult if sexual abuse has happened).
  • Make sure your child is able to play with other children their own age often. Your child might not get along with others right away—they’ll learn this with time, practice and the help of you and others. Being able to play with other children will help them to form healthy relationships as they grow older.
  • Help your child understand how gender can be expressed differently. A person’s gender identity may be the same as or different as their biological sex.

For more information about teaching sexual health to your children up to two years, visit:https://teachingsexualhealth.ca/parents/information-by-age/birth-to-2-years/

 

3 and 4 Year Olds

Understanding Your Child’s Development

This is the thinking stage. As children enter their preschool years, they know what they like and don’t like. Their emotions tend to be more stable and predictable. Your child’s picking up on what you say and do. Read more about what your child is going through in this stage.

 

What Your Child Needs Your Help to Learn

Children at this age are the easiest to teach, as they are very curious and take in everything they see and hear. Your child will use their imagination to make up their own story if they ’don’t understand the explanation they may have been given. Be ready to answer to their questions again and again, as preschoolers don’t always understand the first time.

If you don’t talk about sexuality, it teaches your child that sexuality is something they shouldn’t talk to you about. To give them the facts about their body parts, what they’re used for and how babies are made, see Reproduction and Pregnancy. 

 

There are some great ways to support healthy sexuality and development. At this stage, children should know:

  • That their body is their own and no one can touch it without their permission—the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch”. This may help children to be more likely to tell a trusted adult if someone is touching them in a way they shouldn’t.
  • The correct names for body parts including genitals and reproductive organs: penis, testicles, scrotum, anus, vulva, labia, vagina, clitoris, uterus and ovaries (Knowing the correct names for body parts promotes positive body image, self-confidence, and parent-child communication. It also gives children the language they need to tell a trusted adult if sexual abuse has happened).
  • How reproduction happens. For example, you could say, “When a sperm joins an egg, a baby grows in the uterus, and is born through the vagina.”
  • Not to pick up things such as used condoms or syringes. Now is a good time to teach them not to pick up anything if they don’t know what it is or if they think it’s dangerous.

For more information about teaching your 3-4 year old about sexual health, visit: https://teachingsexualhealth.ca/parents/information-by-age/3-and-4-year-olds/

 

5 and 6 Year Olds

Understanding Your Child’s Development

Your child is starting to form their own identity and their understanding of how they fit into the world. Talking about sexual health and sexuality together now will help to start the conversation and keep it going as your child gets older. Read more about what your child is going through in this stage.

What Your Child Needs Your Help to Learn

Your child will likely understand more about body parts and what they do, but still may not know all the facts. For example, at this age children often think that girls have one opening for urine and feces, and that what girls eat goes into the same place as the baby grows. It helps to use simple and clear explanations for your child—make sure to give the facts and use the correct terms.

If you don’t talk about sexuality, it teaches your child that sexuality is something they shouldn’t talk about with you. They’re more likely to talk to and believe any story they hear from others. Give them the facts about their body parts, what they’re used for and how babies are made.

There are some great ways to encourage healthy sexuality and development. At this stage, children should know:

  • That their body is their own and no one can touch it without their permission—the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch”. This may help children to be more likely to tell a trusted adult if someone is touching them in a way they shouldn’t.
  • The correct names for body parts including genitals and reproductive organs: penis, testicles, scrotum, anus, vulva, labia, vagina, clitoris, uterus and ovaries (Knowing the correct names for body parts promotes positive body image, self-confidence, and parent-child communication. It also gives children the language they need to tell a trusted adult if sexual abuse has happened).
  • Other body parts and body functions: urine, stool, bladder and urethra.
  • How reproduction happens. For example, you could say, “When a sperm joins an egg, a baby grows in the uterus, and is born through the vagina.”
  • Basic information about body changes during puberty.
  • Not to pick up things such as used condoms or syringes. Now is a good time to teach them not to pick up anything if they don’t know what it is or if they think it’s dangerous.

For more information about teaching your 5-6 year old about sexual health, visit: https://teachingsexualhealth.ca/parents/information-by-age/5-and-6-year-olds/

 

 

Top 5 Ways to Cheer Up the Lonely Days - Edmonton Public Library

Written by Hilary Kirkpatrick, EPL Outreach Worker

As a social worker for the Edmonton Public Library, I know the importance of community building and making connections for those who are feeling lonely. Having a supportive network of people and meaningful connections can give us the boost we need to feel better about ourselves and have a positive outlook on life. At EPL, there are programs specifically designed to meet the needs and interests of all EPL customers, which help bring people in the community together.

Here are the top 5 ways to utilize your local library to help alleviate loneliness:

1.     EPL Book Clubs – Book clubs offer a space where you can meet new people with similar interests (hello, fellow avid readers!) and discuss the means and motives of your favourite literary characters. Friendships are sure to blossom over a cup of tea and a wonderful book! 

2.       Baby Lap Time and Sing, Sign, Laugh and Learn Programs – New parents are at times isolated by the needs of their new little family member, and early literacy programs can provide the opportunity to make a connection for parents while babies learn through play, song and story. These interactive, free, drop-in programs are a great opportunity to connect with other new parents and give your little one a head-start.

3.       Makerspace Programs – Did you know that expressing yourself creatively in a way that is meaningful to you can help you combat loneliness? EPL Makerspace programs offers sound-booths to record a song, binding and printing services for your writing, or the opportunity to create a mini-movie with the green screen! Make friends and enjoy a fun project all at the same time!

4.       Adult Programs – Find ways to socialize based on what interest you such as learning a new hobby at the library: sewing class, adult colouring, film series, traditional arts and crafts, and more! Hobbies are a great way to meet new people, and to help yourself get out of the house. If you are feeling left out of the community because of a language barrier, EPL can help you improve your English conversations skills. We host conversation circles for English language learners that are set at your pace.

5.       Assistive Services - If you are experiencing a significant barrier or are physically unable to leave your home or a have disability, EPL provides home service where you live, whether that's an extended care facility, a seniors' lodge or your own home. We also offer specialized computers and assistive technology. If you are far away from family across the world, EPL staff can show you how to use email and Skype with your far away family members!

With EPL, connection is always possible. Let’s work together to combat loneliness and connect with our community and loved ones. A step towards visiting your local public library is a step towards ending loneliness! https://www.epl.ca/

What Teens Can Do To Keep Busy This Summer

by Bronwyn Hartman - Edmonton Public Library

 

1. Make something great: Our Makerspace has everything teens need for their next creation, including 3D printers, sound booths, a vinyl cutter and more. Encourage teens to drop by the library and get creative!

2. Find the next great read: Teens can check out our Staff Picks, talk to staff for recommendations, access eBooks and magazines through our digital collection, or just come and browse our teen section. They can also participate in one of our Summer Starts Here events happening at branches throughout the city.

3. Get in the game: Teens have a love for gaming and can join us for our many gaming programs: Minecraft, retro gaming and even old-school board games!

4. Learn something new: Our non-fiction collection and online resources have everything teens need to learn something new - from a new language, to photo editing, to digital design and more.

5. Come and hang out: On hot summer days the library is an even a cooler place to hang out! With study spaces, meeting rooms, computers and more, teens can come and lounge in an air conditioned space with us at any of our branches.

Be in the know with EPL! Sign up for EPL eNewsletter to learn more about programs and events for teens and the whole family!

 

For more information about Edmonton Public Library and their awesome programs, visit: https://www.epl.ca/blogs/post/what-teens-can-do-to-keep-busy-this-summer/

Attention Deficit Disorder or Simply Poor Concentration Skills?

April 25th, 2014

By R.N. Whitehead

I recently reviewed the results of a series of tests and something kept bothering me. Why did so many seemingly normal kids appear to have an attention deficit? Are we just getting better at identifying this problem or is something else going on?

In addition to measuring and testing kids for attention deficit, we need to reconsider our lifestyles and the ways we teach children. I believe that many attention problems are the result of learned behaviour.

Many kids can’t pay attention because they have not been taught the skill of concentration. I am not trying to claim that attention deficits do not exist; quite the contrary. However, many kids who have trouble paying attention do not have an attention deficit. They merely have a short attention span. I believe this is partly due to television, movies, video games and the quick pace of modern life. Our busy lives have trained our cognitive processes to look for quick bites, fast answers.

It’s a learning process

So what can parents and teachers do about this? Spend quiet time with children, read books, have long discussions uninterrupted by television or the telephone. That old advice to stop and smell the roses still holds true. We need to teach our kids how to learn and how to pay attention. In all but a few cases, paying attention is a learned skill. Children with true Attention Deficit Disorder cannot pay attention, but most kids today do not suffer from this disorder. Most of our children have not been taught how to pay attention.

Recently, my daughter filled our house with friends. It seemed as if 100 six-year-old girls had suddenly moved in. They created forts, nurseries, schools and stores. Every child was assigned a task. Some were storekeepers, some were parents, others were infants. Before assuming her role, almost every child took the time to prepare for it. Many rearranged their space while talking to themselves about whom they were and how they would act.

This was very interesting for me. They took time to reflect and consider. They prepared. They created their own space and demanded enough time to get ready to have fun! My daughter and her friends knew that they needed to concentrate, so they created an environment where that would be possible. Left to their own devices, kids seem to understand the need for quiet reflection, concentration and paying attention.

It is mostly in school-related activities that these skills go wanting. After watching these kids for a couple of hours, I thought about a typical classroom scene. There is little time for quiet reflection and even less personal space.  Educational programs today are not designed for individuals; they are designed for groups.

Why is this the case? Why are our children attending day care, kindergarten, and the primary grades one through three and not learning how to pay attention? All of these programs are supervised or taught by highly competent and well-trained individuals. Kids come and go through these delightful classrooms. They enjoy themselves. They follow the program. But what programs are they following? Where do these programs come from? Who writes them?

When your child comes home from school or daycare and tells you about the activities of the day, have you ever considered that they may not be appropriate?

Books have limited vocabulary

Every program being taught by teachers – and every textbook ever written – has an underlying set of ideas based on a philosophy. It is these ideas that determine the methods used by teachers (along with the material contained in textbooks). For example, those of us who are over 40 may remember a time when most of our reading material was found in books called readers, which had literary merit.  A typical elementary school reader contained numerous stories of differing difficulty, stories to challenge and entertain pupils of various ages and abilities.

Go into a Grade 1 or 2 classroom today and you will find hundreds of small, colourful books full of simple words and pretty pictures. The books in today’s classrooms have a very limited vocabulary. Publishers strive to publish stories with “age appropriate” vocabulary. Why? Who decided this? Has it helped or hurt?

In the classrooms of the past, we were taught to read using phonics. We were able to read well in Grade 1 and 2 and we read from those old readers. Sure, the books had some pictures, yet our minds and imaginations supplied most of the excitement.

I knew what Moby Dick looked like; I saw him in my mind’s eye. That exercise in itself helped to develop concentration and attention. Using our inner eye – our imagination – helped us to develop the ability to focus and concentrate. We had to. We wanted to “see” what we were reading. We used our minds.

But there were other differences as well, such as vocabulary. We were reading from books containing literature. The vocabulary was demanding and the stories complex and exciting. (It is very difficult to make a story complex or exciting with limited vocabulary and more pictures than words.) Because we were enjoying the stories, we had to concentrate on the context of the story or we would not be able to understand what we were reading. That too forced us to concentrate.

Driven by 1890s ideas

You may be interested to know that the decisions to limit vocabulary and to end phonics were a result of ideas that originated in the 1890s. In the 1890s, one group of educators disagreed with an earlier group of educators. They wrote books and lectured and more than 100 years later we have books with pictures, limited words, and no phonics.

I am not just talking about reading either! Almost every subject being taught in today’s classrooms is being driven by these 1890s ideas. We are still following these early ideas virtually unchallenged. Their philosophy is not understood even by those who assume its truth and write new materials based upon its assumptions.

Failure not a negative aspect of life

Today’s classroom programs are merely the application of these ideas. One of these ideas was that self-esteem can be damaged by failure. Nonsense! Self-esteem develops precisely because we learn that we are capable of dealing with life – of overcoming failures!

Another belief was that language is for communication. This is even worse than the previous belief. Language is for thinking. Communication flows from thinking. Education today uses language as a blunt instrument; an imprecise means of conveying feelings – of communicating.

But learning language is about precision. It is about meaning. It requires clear thought. It requires time for integration and learning – everything that today’s programs do not allow. The results are all around us. Kids who can’t read, concentrate, or pay attention are kids who are not motivated.

An unmotivated mind is a passive mind. Motivation means finding a way to show your children that changing is to their advantage. Children can begin this process by learning that while life is full of joy and triumph, it may also contain failure. Because we love our children and don’t want them to be hurt, we often try to avoid situations where they may fail. If we fight too many battles for our children or shelter them from the stings of little defeats, they never learn that victory is won at a cost.

We must teach our children that if they learn certain basic sets of rules, they will experience success. Children must be able to say to themselves, “Even if I don’t succeed right away, I am capable of understanding, trying and eventually succeeding.”

Initially, parents can help this process along by creating small challenges and giving occasional rewards, such as stickers, praise, tickets to the water slide or even the occasional cheeseburger. Obviously the best and longest lasting motivation comes from the development of a healthy self-esteem. But occasional treats are not entirely bad.              

Children with passive minds will not develop healthy and robust self-esteem. Being active means making the attempt. Being passive means waiting for someone to act for us. Helping a child to develop an active mind is not only one of the greatest gifts a parent can give but also is one of the greatest challenges we face.

Excerpt from Active Minds! by Dr. R. N. Whitehead, director, Oxford Learning Centres.

Tags: education

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