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How to Talk to Your Tween About Puberty

How to Talk to Your Tween About Puberty

You knew it would come sooner or later. The time is now. It’s time to have the puberty talk.  When should this happen? Should both of you do it? What do you say? Should “the talk” be different for boys than for girls? If surviving three daughters into their teens means anything (your guess is as good as mine), I am a veritable expert. Here’s what I suggest.

What age is best?

Of course, there is no exact correct answer. It is a good idea to have “the talk” before all those changes actually start, so take the lead of most elementary schools. Fifth grade is when they separate the boys and girls and have the puberty lesson. Age eleven is a good time, if not a little late, to talk to your kids about growing up. Ideally, this is an ongoing conversation that started when he or she was learning to talk and learning the names of body parts. Hopefully, this is just an extension of many conversations you’ve had over the years about your child’s body. If not, it’s definitely the time to open that door (just try not to fall through the floor laughing).

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Mom, Dad or both?

This might depend upon the child’s gender, the comfort level of each parent and the overall family dynamic. Girls don’t want to talk about periods with dad, usually, but some are more at ease with dad, particularly if living with a single dad. Boys don’t really want mom to explain about pubic hair or masturbation (or dad either, for that matter), but it is a conversation you should not leave entirely to school. Some families have found kids are more comfortable talking to a trusted young adult, like a babysitter, au pair or nanny. What’s most important is starting the conversation and letting your kid know you’re there to answer questions (even if you don’t want to).

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What to say?

So you’ve decided he or she is old enough and who is going to do the deed, but what on earth are you supposed to say? When I asked my eleven-year-old son how he thought it best for parents to talk about this topic to kids, his first response was ask them if they want to talk about it. Then he advised, be subtle. (This kid cracks me up!) He’s right, though. Don’t force this conversation down your kid’s throat and keep it light, at their level, and open-ended. The conversation doesn’t need to take hours or be very detailed. In fact, a bunch of little short convos seems ideal to me. Offer to answer questions that might come up, and then be prepared to answer them, honestly. I was relieved when my young teen daughter came to me with her questions about oral sex (about a scene she had read in a book), but I chose my words carefully when explaining, just enough but not too much! My point: be prepared for tough questions!

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Boy talk vs. Girl talk?

Yeah, the content will be similar, but different. Your son should know what goes on for girls, generally speaking, without all the gory details. Your daughter should know boys experience changes in puberty too, but probably don’t need visual aids. No matter the gender, pre-teens, or tweens as they are called these days, need to know Bob Dylan’s wise and true words, “the times they are a’ changin.” Content of each conversation will differ slightly with the overall theme that body changes are normal, adults understand and are available to help or answer questions, and there is light at the end of the tunnel of adolescence (except it’s this sometimes crappy thing called adulthood with jobs, responsibilities, taxes and wishing you were a kid again).

    Photo from Shutterstock

    You’ll survive it. Remember “the talk” with your own parents? It is okay to feel nervous or weird, or both. After all, you spent years trying to prevent your kids from talking about these “inappropriate” subjects. In the end, be sure to make your child feel like you are available, if a bit uncomfortable. Humor helps. Be sure he or she knows you will give honest answers. Don’t sugarcoat it, but don’t give more information than you think your kid can handle. When you have an older child who has already gone through, or is in the midst of adolescence, you may have another resource. Make sure, though, that your older child doesn’t give false or too much information to your younger one. You may be answering questions sooner than you like or find yourself clarifying some interesting misnomers! Good luck and call your mother with any questions.

    Featured photo credit: Shutterstock via pixabay.com

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    Joan Lowell

    Educator, Writer

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    Published on November 7, 2018

    How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

    How to Homeschool in the 21st Century (For All Types of Parents & Kids)

    In 2016, it was estimated that 1.7 million children were being homeschooled in the U.S, roughly 3.3% of all school-aged children.[1] Although this may not sound like a big portion of the population, the growth rate of homeschooling has been 7 to15% per year for the last two decades.

    The burgeoning numbers are not a coincidence. There are tremendous benefits to homeschooling, including one-on-one teaching, adaptability to individual needs and learning styles, a safe learning environment, encouraging learning for knowledge rather than grades, and tailoring a curriculum to the child’s interests.

    Is homeschooling something that you have been considering for your family? With all of the tools and resources available for homeschoolers in the 21st century, it may be easier than you think.

    How to Homeschool (Getting Started)

    After thinking it through, you’ve decided that homeschooling is the right step for you and your family. Now what? Here are the first things you should do to get your homeschooling journey started on the right track.

    Figure Out the Laws

    Homeschooling is regulated by the state, not the federal government. The first step is to find the current and accurate legal requirements mandated by your state in order to educate your child legally.[2]

    The regulations can vary widely, from strict guidelines to no guidelines at all. However, don’t be overwhelmed by the legal jargon. There are many resources and local communities for homeschooling families that can help you figure out the logistics.

    Decide on an Approach

    Every child’s needs are different. This is your chance to choose the homeschooling style or combination of styles that best fits your child’s learning style and interests. A brief description of seven different homeschooling methods are listed below.

    Supplies/Resources

    Often times, purchasing a homeschooling curriculum is done too early in the planning process, resulting in buyer’s remorse.

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    A curriculum is not always needed for homeschooling, and other types of free or less structured resources are readily available.

    Find a Community

    Getting connected with a community of homeschoolers is one of the most important parts of building a successful and thriving homeschool environment for your kids.

    Look for communities online for virtual support or a local group that you and your kids can interact with. Partnering with others fosters better socialization skills for the students and provides opportunities for field trips, classes, and outings that wouldn’t have otherwise been a part of the homeschooling experience.

    7 Different Homeschooling Methods

    1. School-At-Home

    Also known as Traditional homeschool, School-At-Home uses essentially the same curriculum as the local private or public school but at home.

    The lessons can be completed independently, but more commonly, they are administered by a parent or a teacher-facilitated online school.

    • Benefits: formal standards, wide selection of curricula, same pace as peers, short-term friendly
    • Drawbacks: expensive, inflexible, time consuming, parent can get easily burnt out
    • Resources: K12, Time4Learning, Abeka

    2. Classical

    One of the most popular homeschooling methods used, it borrows educational practices from Ancient Greece and Rome. Subject areas are studied chronologically so that students can understand the consequence of ideas over time.

    Socratic dialogue fosters effective discussions and debate to achieve beyond mere comprehension. There is often a strong emphasis on Great Books[3] as well as Greek and Latin.

    3. Unit Studies

    Rather than breaking up education into subjects, unit studies approach each topic as a whole, studying it from the perspective of each subject area.

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    For example, a unit study about animals could include reading books about animals, learning about the classification of animals, figuring out which animals live on which continents, etc. This method is often used as a technique in other more comprehensive educational methodologies.

    • Benefits: promotes thinking about concepts as a whole, not monotonous or redundant, student-directed, bolsters weaker subject areas, beneficial for teaching multi-age students
    • Drawbacks: incomplete, knowledge gaps, curriculum-dependent
    • Resources: Unit Study, Unit Studies, Unit Studies Made Easy, Konos

    4. Charlotte Mason

    This Christian homeschooling style utilizes shorts periods of study (15-20 minute max for elementary, 45 minute max for high school), along with nature walks and history portfolios.

    Students are encouraged to practice observation, memorization, and narration often. With a focus on “living books” (stories with heroes, life lessons, socio-ethical implications), reading plays a big role in this student-paced teaching style.

    5. Montessori

    Maria Montessori developed this method through working with special needs children in the early 20th century.

    With a primary focus on the student setting the pace and indirect instruction from the teacher, this approach includes free movement, large unstructured time blocks (up to 3 hours), multi-grade classes, and individualized learning plans based on interests.

    6. Unschooling

    Unschooling is a learning model largely based on the work of John Holt.[4] The teaching style focuses mainly on the students’ interests, putting priority on experiential, activity-based, and learn as you go approaches.

    For basic skills such as reading, writing, and math, a systematic technique is employed, but testing and evaluations are typically not utilized. Teachers, in general, play more of a facilitator role.

    7. Eclectic/Relaxed

    As the most popular method of homeschool, eclectic homeschooling is child-directed, resourceful, and non-curriculum based.

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    Parents can sample any combination of homeschooling methods and styles or resources. One growing sector of eclectic homeschooling combines part homeschooling with part traditional schooling.

    How to Facilitate Homeschooling with Technology

    One of the reasons homeschooling is more feasible than ever before is due to the accessibility of tools and resources to enhance the learning process.

    Email

    Email is a tool that has really stood the test of time. Invented in 1972, it is still used today as a primary means of communicating on the Internet.

    It is a great way to share assignments, links, and videos between parent and student.

    Google Drive/Calendar

    Google Drive offers a multitude of essential programs that can come in handy for homeschoolers, such as Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.

    With its sharing capabilities, easy accessibility, and auto-save ability, it’s easier than ever to organize and complete assignments. It will improve students’ writing and typing skills, as well as eliminate the need for paper.

    Google Calendar is an excellent tool for tracking assignment due dates, planning field trips and activities, and developing time management skills.

    Ebooks

    Rather than invest in physical copies of books, ebooks are a wonderful option for saving money and space. There are plenty of places that offer a free or paid subscription to a wide selection of ebooks:

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    E-Courses

    When a structured curriculum is necessary for teaching a certain topic, an e-course is the way to go.

    From watercolors to calculus, there are e-courses available about almost everything. Including different teaching styles that vary from the parents will encourage students to learn in different ways.

    The visual and auditory stimulation will also be beneficial in helping students understand and retain the concepts being taught.

    Some recommendations:

    Youtube

    Youtube is not just a platform for music videos and cats doing funny things. There are a number of Youtube channels that produce quality educational videos, free of charge.

    Creating a playlist of videos for various topics is a great way to supplement a homeschool education.

    Some recommendations:

    Final Thoughts

    Homeschooling in the current age looks much different than it did ten years ago. There are more options and more flexibility when it comes to educating kids at home.

    Don’t be overwhelmed by the idea of homeschooling your children if it could make a positive impact on your family.

    Featured photo credit: Hal Gatewood via unsplash.com

    Reference

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