This program has been in place since the 1960’s under the broader scope of Health Education in the Scarsdale Public Schools. During the 2012/2013 school year, the curriculum was expanded to include Health, Hygiene and Human Development in large part through the efforts of Mrs. Stacey Wierl, one of our Physical Education teachers at Fox Meadow Elementary School. The curriculum is continually revised and has been approved by the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction.
The Health,Hygiene and Human Development unit was developed in order to prepare fifth graders for the changes that take place during puberty. Those changes not only include physical development but also emotional and social changes as well. Some of the topics which are included in these discussions are: growth and development, hygiene, menstruation, nocturnal emissions, social and emotional changes, nutritional needs, and respecting self and others.These topics are discussed with children so they can feel secure in their understanding of the new feelings that they are becoming aware of. These include;peer relationships, social concerns and pressures and the changes their bodies are experiencing that will launch them into adolescence and young adulthood.
Sometimes the social, emotional and physical changes associated with puberty can make children feel anxious and doubtful. The average girl may detect the first sign of puberty at age 10½ and the average boy at 11½. It is not uncommon for some parents/guardians to feel concerned that 5th graders are too young to learn about such sensitive topic. However, if the average student is about to experience those changes it is essential that they learn about the process as early as possible so they can feel prepared. Our Health, Hygiene and Human Development program seeks to empower students as they learn about their bodies and emotions, to help to prepare them for the shift to middle school and adolescence.
At the conclusion of the program, students are reminded that:
· They need to have conversations about the topics we covered with their parents or another trusted adult.
· They need to be cautious with information they get from peers, the internet other sources until they can verify its' accuracy.
· They should be aware that discussions about sexuality are important even though they are private and personal matters that are being discussed. They have a right to information and to get their questions answered.
· They are equipped with new knowledge that they should use in respectful ways.
This program has been developed so that boys and girls learn about the physical changes that occur in both genders. The first lesson is more general in content and presentation includes the entire class while the second and third lessons allow for a more detailed conversation and more specific exchange of information and are taught in a single gender configuration.
Each fifth grade class will receive a minimum of three lessons. In some classrooms, teachers may elect to continue the conversation as contemporary events present themselves. The lessons are organized according to the following outline:
Day one: Co-ed classroom, instruction by Mrs. Wierl, physical education teacher and classroom teacher (65 minutes)
Topics included but not limited to:
- Participation in fitness activity to demonstrate physiological responses to exercise
- Introduction to Health, Hygiene and Human Development – why we are here discussing these important topics
- Reminder – students encouraged to discuss information with parents who are aware of these lessons
- Ground rules for classroom discussion-- including respect, no put downs, talking about these topics responsibly
- Distribution of Puberty Education packet – students will complete short questions in packet
- Explanation of the role of the Pituitary Gland.
- Discussion of proper hygiene and nutrition, and why the added emphasis on them as students enter puberty.
- Discussion of language-- review of slang vs. appropriate scientific terminology
- Summary of key ideas:
- Changes are initiated in the Hypothalamus via the Pituitary Gland.
- Puberty is a period of time when the body “crosses over the bridge” from childhood to young adulthood and is capable of reproduction
- Proper nutrition, hydration, rest, and hygiene are all critical aspects for students to be aware of as they approach puberty.
- Puberty is a normal and natural process that all of us go through.
- Similar to exercise, puberty is science.
Day two: Single gender class. Same gender classroom teacher when possible, Mrs. Wierl or physical education teacher. (45 minutes)
Review of Day 1.:
- Students are asked if they learned anything new in the first session or if they reinforced knowledge they already had
- Students are reminded to talk to a trusted adult
- Students are reminded that puberty is a process that may take 5-6 years to complete
- Some students can be upset that they are not developing the way their peers are. They are assured that all changes will take place in individuals according to their own internal “clock”.
- We review many different types of changes that take place: physical, emotional, social, school and family. Students are encouraged to view puberty as a holistic process involving more than physical changes
- Questions that have been placed in "question box" that have not been answered in previous lessons.
Students will learn about the changes that take place in their own bodies by viewing the DVD: You, Your body and Puberty, (Human Relations Media, 2005) and/or the Proctor and Gamble video " Always Changing" (original editions)
Some of the topics that will be discussed include:
- Male and female hormonal changes during puberty
- Menstruation, menstrual symptoms and supplies
- The basics of the human reproduction system
- The penis and testicles: erections, semen, sperm, ejaculation and nocturnal emissions
- Breast development: breast tenderness, bras and temporary growth/swelling of male breast tissue
- Development of pubic, body and facial hair
- Development of sweat glands, acne, oily skin and related issues, including hygiene
- Voice changes
- Other growth and development issues (body shape – widening of hips, broadening of shoulders, growth of sex organs)
- Personal safety: sexual abuse and abduction prevention
- Experiencing mood swings, sudden feelings of sadness or loneliness, anger, other emotions
- Having romantic feelings and feelings of attraction
- Social interaction issues, wanting to “fit in” and deal with cliques
- Feelings of conflict with parents and siblings and other family members
- Concerns about appearance
- Wondering about what is “normal”
Students who have learned about their own gender will get a shorter review of the opposite gender.
Students will view the PowerPoint presentation, “Always Changing”. The girls will receive a small kit including a sample sanitary product and a small deodorant with a booklet describing the changes occurring during puberty
The boys receive a small booklet describing the changes occurring during puberty and a sample of deodorant provided by Proctor and Gamble.
We will be presenting the lessons during the following weeks in each school:
Resources that were used in the development of this curriculum include:
P & G School Programs, The Always Changing Program; http://www.pgschoolprograms.com/parents.php
F.L.A.S.H. Lesson plans for grades 4, 5, 6 – Lessons 9-12.