Sex Ed At School In Grade Three

by MARIA on June 26, 2012

So this morning I’m putting my son’s lunch in his bag and see a notice from his teacher in his agenda that they will be talking about “Growth and Development” during the last three days of school. This means that he will learn:

  • The basic changes in growth and development of humans from birth to childhood.
  • The basic human reproductive process involving the union of egg and sperm.
  • What the word gay means and ways it should be used appropriately and ways to avoid using it inappropriately.

I have to admit – I was shocked. First of all, other than this sheet, I was given zero warning that this was even happening. And the last three days of school? Seriously ridiculous. I would have liked to have known ahead of time because I would have shared this with my son myself. I think it’s my job to teach my son about his body and sex and what gay means – at the very least, give me the opportunity to choose when to do so.

I explained to him that this was what he was going to learn at school. I’ll be honest, he is a sweet, innocent and naive eight year old boy when it comes to most things other than video games and Lego. And I’m okay with that – because he’s EIGHT. I just don’t get the rush to force our kids to grow up faster than they’re ready to. If he had approached me and asked about sex, I would have wholeheartedly had that conversation with him, no matter how hard it was for me (because omg, he’s EIGHT). But he hasn’t, and I feel it’s wrong to force him to grow up faster than he’s ready to, simply because the government deems this is the time to get on it (no pun intended).

I understand that I might be in the minority here, and that’s ok with me.

I’m ok with admitting that I’m not that mom that waves my son off as he goes off and plays with his friends at the park and comes home for dinner. My helicopter flies way too low for that sort of thing. Playdates are only at friend’s homes where I know the moms very well and trust them implicitly. Sleepovers at anyone’s house other than cousins? Never going to happen. So, I don’t even understand where kids would have the opportunity to have sex when they’re in public school. Clearly, my very strict upbringing has carried over to me because I can’t even fathom such a thing. Compared to today’s trends, I was ancient when I first had sex and thank God for that because I can’t even imagine having to deal with the aftermath at 12 or 13. I’ve heard the argument that introducing them to sex this early might make them want to have sex earlier – not sure I believe that, but I think learning about sex and love and what it all means should start at home, not at school. But at EIGHT?? Excuse me while my head explodes.

I didn’t come from a home where we discussed anything involving sex or our bodies, ever. I was raised by old school, Greek immigrant parents where school and work ethic were what mattered most. It didn’t even occur to us to broach the topic with our parents and for me personally, I didn’t know a thing until we heard about it in Grade 9. I can’t speak for my siblings, but I was fine with it. I had zero interest in having sex although my Duran Duran posters sure got a lot of lip action back then.  Of course, now that I have kids, I can understand that being open to questions is really important. I’ve told my eight year old son repeatedly that he can ask me anything, anytime with no judgement.

I’m now preparing myself for 3:30 p.m. today when I pick up my eight year old son that will be full of questions and a little less innocent. If I’m totally honest, I’m a little bit heartbroken over it. I guess that’s an odd way to feel, and like I said, I can understand being in the minority here, but it’s honestly how I feel. I suppose when my daughter gets to this point, I will need to be heavily medicated.

I should also mention that I did get the chance to quickly explain what “gay” meant. His response? “It’s nice to be loved.”

My sweet boy.


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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Maria June 26, 2012 at 10:54 am

I remember being in Grade 5 when we first started learning in school… I still remember the movie they showed us called “Am I Normal?” At that age, I’d rather be the one to answer any questions my kids have. They’ve already asked some and I’ve answered them truthfully but simply.
I think Grade 5 is a better age to start teaching in the schools but that’s just my opinion.
Also, to leave this type of teaching until the last few days of school? Not sure why…


2 MARIA June 26, 2012 at 12:37 pm

I don’t get the last few days of school either – not cool at all.


3 Shannon June 26, 2012 at 11:49 am

Whew! I am not the only one who thinks this way. My dds school is doing the same thing. Although my DD is 9 and in Grade 4. I can relieve you in that they did not give them MORE info than they needed. I was lucky, in a way, as we had a female dog that was in heat so all those questions started early around here. ;) Clearly your son is comfortable enough to ask you questions. He will still be innocent…. just a little more informed. :) BTW DD said the class was sooooooo boooring.


4 MARIA June 26, 2012 at 12:38 pm

I’m assuming it’s going to be very basic as well, and no, you are definitely not the only one!


5 Angella June 26, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Ugh. That’s a hard one. I’m with you on this, wholeheartedly.


6 MARIA June 26, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Thanks Angella!!


7 nicole June 26, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Whoa. 8? And they’re getting egg and sperm info? Geez!

My 10 yo just had her first “sex ed” class in 4th grade, and it was gender divided and focused only on what is going on in the girl’s body. We were given several reminders of the date of instruction, as well as an opportunity to preview the material ourselves ahead of time. I couldn’t go to the preview, but my friends did and I got all the details from them. I would not have allowed my daughter to go to the instruction you describe at 8 years old. I just don’t think it is age-appropriate at all. As you said, they are introducing subject matter that is not even on his radar! Crazy!


8 MARIA June 26, 2012 at 8:40 pm

He came home and told me he had a lot of questions but wanted to wait to ask them until all three days of the lessons were complete. Prior to this class, he had zero interest in this topic and I was totally fine with that. I think the timing sucks, I think keeping the parents out of the loop sucks and I think waiting until the last three days of school is just ridiculous.


9 Mary @ Parenthood June 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm

If it bothers you that much, you could pull him from class for the last couple of days of school…

That said, I don’t quite get why this is a big deal and I’m very surprised by an 8yo who has no idea where babies come from. I thought the trend these days was to move away from a big talk and instead take teachable moments. My 3yo certainly understands the basics. We’ve spent so much time at the farm (actually witnessed a piglet being born!) that I’d find it surprising if she didn’t!

So obviously I do think third graders are more than capable of learning about the basic facts of life, but I sympathize with you wishing to be the one introducing the topic and wish you all the best tonight! I’d be more annoyed about the third topic myself. A) I think the word “gay” made more sense when it was an approximation of happy B) Kids should learn to speak respectfully to each other without name calling. I don’t think that a kid calling another “gay” is necessarily worse than “four-eyes”. Neither ought to be acceptable. The current tone of the bullying debate has shifted to take a very narrow view. I find that disturbing.


10 MARIA June 26, 2012 at 8:38 pm

I would never pull him from the class – I think that would send him the wrong message. My son knows some of the basics but he’s never really asked us about it and we’ve never broached it because I just think it’s too early (for us). I can totally respect others who share more than I do and at an earlier age, and spending time at a farm would certainly open up ways to start that conversation. And I agree with you about your bullying comment – wholeheartedly.


11 Corinne @ Have Baby Will Travel June 26, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Weird that they’d cram it in the last three days of school – maybe the teacher’s as uncomfortable about it as you are!


12 MARIA June 26, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Perhaps? I don’t envy these kids. Their teacher is the most monotone, boring individual and impossible to read. Personality plus, he is not.


13 Rebecca June 26, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I agree, Corinne. Sounds like the teacher has put it off until the last possible minute. But sometimes these things are easier to talk about when they are still innocent? Maybe? Not there yet myself.


14 Amber June 26, 2012 at 11:20 pm

Wow Maria. I’m glad I finally got on my laptop to read this post. My dd is 8 and I cannot imagine her learning all these things, but I guess I better get prepared. I answer any questions she has, but I’m not sure if I would be ok (for lack of a better word) with her being taught this in school yet. My 10 yo Goddaughter just got taught this this year in school and was SO uncomfortable with it, but also came away with a boatload of questions. You’ve given me a lot to think about for a Tuesday!


15 MARIA June 27, 2012 at 8:25 am

Yes, you need to prepare yourself because like it or not, it’s coming!!


16 secret mom thoughts June 27, 2012 at 11:02 am

I taught health and we started that stuff in 6th grade. 8 does seem early. And your boy is sweet.


17 MARIA June 27, 2012 at 11:37 am



18 SassyModernMom June 27, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Wow! I’m shocked right along with you. At my daughters school, not only does these health classes not start until Grade 4/5 but we receive written notice and must sign off to allow our children to participate. I like it that way. I want my girls learning the birds and bees from me first so they can avoid any undue shock? Embarassment?


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