Frequently Asked Questions About OWL, Sexuality Education, and Fifth/Sixth Graders
Why do we need sexuality education for this age child?
Because they are already receiving a deluge of sex education, whether we like it or not.
What messages are my grade school children are getting about sex already?
Take a moment to think about all the societal messages about sex that younger children are getting from the media and marketing in the form of clothing, TV shows, films, music and toys. The list is long, but common examples include:
- Bratz and Barbie dolls in provocative clothing
- music videos with simulated sex
- clothing for young girls – belly shirts, mini skirts, thongs
- violent video games featuring macho males and scantily clad women
- popular TV shows for teens and tweens, such as Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries, or reality TV, like Jersey Shore
It is no surprise to adults that sex is used to sell items and create attention, however the pervasiveness of media and marketing – even to well-intended parents who take active steps to monitor this exposure — along with the targeting of children younger and younger means that exposure to these messages is greater than ever before. Even if your child isn’t directly exposed to these messages, your child may have a friend that is getting those message and who may share the information with your child. Such messages can be overwhelming for younger children, especially when they are more innocent and more vulnerable. Having a place to discuss these images would be invaluable.
Would offering even more information — even in the form of education about sexuality– further erode the “innocence of childhood?”
Childhood researchers and educators agree that age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education offers an opportunity for parents and children to move beyond these disturbing and pervasive messages, teach children about respect, relationships and responsibility, and offer a safe place, outside of the home, in which children can explore some of the facts and distortions of the world around them. Rather than harming children, such education actually provides children with the coping skills and information so vital to navigating our current culture.
How much sexuality information would Fifth/Sixth Grade Owl Teach my child?
All OWL Curriculum is age-appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education, meaning that sex is just one piece of the curricula. The grade school lessons emphasize self-respect and respect for others, building positive relationships with members of both genders and many kinds of families, and responsibility for personal health and that of others. Here at First Church, we are considering introducing programs for Fifth/Sixth Graders which have been used successfully in many UU churches around the region.
What would Fifth/Sixth Grade Curriculum include?
The OWL curriculum designed for children in Grade Five or Six is used along with the book “It’s Perfectly Normal”, which lightheartedly uses cartons and realistic illustrations to review materials in a facts-based approach. This curricula explores values, communication and decision making. Furthermore, it examines family relationships, gender identity, sexual orientation, puberty, reproduction and health and safety. All these issues are framed around the core values of respect, relationships, and responsibility.
I would like to be involved with teaching my children this information. What role do parents play in Fifth/Sixth Grade OWL?
All grade school OWL lessons strive to strengthen the bond between parent & child, based on the premise that parents are the primary sexuality educators for children and sexuality education begins at home with open and honest communication. The OWL curricula for grade school students have “home links”, handouts given out at each class, so that parents may further discuss topics with their children. In addition, there is a parent guide that accompanies the OWL curricula, that parents may use as a resource. Two goals of the grade school OWL are to help families communicate openly about all life questions and to strengthen parents’ roles as the their children’s most important sexuality educators.