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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/

Time to Keep Talking

November 17th, 2016

Advice for our kids in this challenging period

By Nick Szymanis

There are a limited number of historical experiences, where a majority of the world’s population is watching the event as it unfolds. History is full of experiences that are viewed just after the fact, but the recent US election was something that happened both for 18 months in advance of November 8th, and then with a state by state surprise outcome right in front of men, women and children (in several time zones) on live stream, TV, radio etc. At a critical moment in the evening, CNN’s correspondent Van Jones echoed the mood of many viewers when to his fellow commentators he said:

“It’s hard to be a parent tonight. You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bully!’ You tell your kids, ‘Don’t be a bigot!’ You tell your kids ‘Do your homework and be prepared!’ And then you have this outcome, and you have people putting children to bed tonight, and they’re afraid of breakfast. They’re afraid of, ‘How do I explain this to my children?’

The next morning, the next week – the days after the live event, have now passed. What was said the next morning probably depended on age, gender and perhaps political view. Not all kids can understand the push – pull factors of liberal democracy, they only see that a man they know by name and appearance, a man everyone seemed to be concerned about, is now elected. From the kid world-view this period is about concerned adult faces, fear, anger and the continued rhetoric about walls, certain cultures and gender.

So what do we do now? It’s not even clear that the story is over. There is ongoing media sound about what will happen next, about the strong views of groups who supported the election outcome, and those who feel it is unrepresentative, perhaps even morally wrong. Like the campaign story before it, this all seems to have a life of its own. How do we help our kids through this period and the weeks, months and years ahead?

What’s clear for the short term, is that the world is a rapidly changing place. People in many parts of Europe and North America have grown disillusioned with their status-quo political systems in the face of a changing cultural mosaic and the perceived threats to a known way of life, or secure way of making a living. Educators have always said, we are preparing our kids for a world in the
future, that will look and feel very different from the one we grew up in. It seems that right now, change is happening rapidly and it is perhaps the most truthful thing to tell children in this time, that the systems built to avoid greater conflict, systems like those where we try and give everyone a say – are facing challenges in these times. The outcome we hope for is that the growing pains will be resolved without bloodshed and that a longer term effort to ensure democracy keeps working – will be taken on by the next generation of voters, maybe even our kids! This is perhaps the most optimistic and / or realistic we can be - - this week at least.

In the medium to long term it cannot be understated that our kids need to be ready for a different world, and here, there are probably 2 or 3 things worth recommending.

Let’s assume, that by “different” we can safely assume that the world will be a more populated place, with perhaps a few more pressing environmental concerns, with a different international balance of power and with more of us sharing space with people from different races, different cultural backgrounds, different social classes, different sexual orientation, greater gender equality,
different values - - and so on. With the movement and interconnectedness of people, their information, their marketplaces - - the trend is clear and the time for territorialism, “othering” and going back in time will come to an end – in spite of this immediate period.

So, advice for our children? 

Number 1 – keep learning! Yes, there was a lot of noise made in this US election, on both “fact-checking” and the vote of “noncollege educated”. Education will continue to matter – both in helping our kids  distinguish fact from fiction (without always checking their phone…) and allowing them to participate as informed evaluators in the democracies of their future. 

Number 2 – keep talking! If anything – the best thing we can do for our children is encourage conversation, dialogue and debate of the key issues with each other, and most importantly between kids of different gender, different social backgrounds and different races. Part of the division in the United States, parts of Canada and Western Europe stems from lack of exposure; a lack of safe
forums in which kids coming from divergent experiences can know each other, know why they think differently - and perhaps connect intellectually on a variety of subjects – big and small. Leaving this to an online livelihood only, or allowing our kids to live too much in sheltered communities – with limited exposure to a wider range of society is what breeds the hardened opposing worldviews that then express themselves with the “reaction” we are seeing now.

Number 3 – keep thinking! This is perhaps the most nebulous area of modern education, but is getting increased attention in an information-saturated time. We (and our kids..) spend a lot of time on our phones, exposed to “bits of information” – and while this easy and quick access may provide answers to things – we still need a more sustained interaction with knowledge in order to
truly “think” about things, to evaluate, to critically examine, to reflect and then - -decide. Technology gives us many conveniences – that granted we could not imagine living without, but we do not yet have a long range study on how or if we still think well in a world so rich with sound bites, video clips and other distractions. Thinking does not breed reaction, it breeds a measured response -
- perhaps far less exciting, but perhaps more stable in a functioning democracy. 

On an acute level, Van Jones’ quote accurately captured the parent’s sense of helplessness in response to Trump’s victory. There were indeed few correct answers that night. History was being made in that moment – and like the few other truly “live” events we’ve experienced - - it’s not always clear, what exactly to say to our kids. Indeed, hope exists in the kids themselves. They surprise us in how they can already put some things in context, how they are capable of opposing views without getting too personal, how they might briefly recognize the shared humanity in each other, before judgements start to fly.

Our job is just to keep building a forum for the exercise of these skills. If and where possible, let the most divergent, most different in views and values – put the phones down for a brief period - come together for a face to face, educational experience, with as much open conversation, collaborative learning, critical thinking, debate and dialogue on the important matters of our time.


Nick Szymanis has been a classroom teacher for 18 years as well as the
founding director of Debate Camp Canada – a summer camp that trains students
in grades 5 to 11 on the skills of debate, public speaking and Model United
Nations simulation (since 2002). In 2016, Debate Camp was attended by over
1000 students across our 9 Canadian locations, and now 2 in the United
States… Full details area available on www.debatecamp.com

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