Sex-ed in grade 3? (long, but only 'cause I babble)

My sister had a bad week. Her five year old son learned “suck my penis” from somewhere and spent Tuesday afternoon telling his teacher to suck his penis every time she asked him to do something. If you knew my sister you would understand just how mortifying this was for her. (And how entertaining it was for me. I can’t count the number of times she said “this is * not * funny, stop laughing” to me) This has nothing to do with my question. It just cracked me up.

Her eight year old daughter came home on Wednesday with some news. They would be learning human reproduction in health class. The conversation was told to me like this,

Niece: Mom, I have a piece of paper that has the words penis and vagina on them.

Sis: Umm, okay, where?

Niece: In my backpack.

Sis: Can I see it?

Niece: Okay. Are you going to be okay though? It has some sex words on it. Will you be alright?

Sis: I think I can handle it.

Niece gets Sis the paper and it is from the school explaining they will be teaching sex-ed to all the grade three classes.

Niece: Mom, did you know that a man has to put his penis in a woman’s vagina to make a baby.

Sis: Honey. I need to tell you that if you are old enough to learn about this in health you need to understand that your brother and sister are NOT old enough to learn it yet. Do you understand that?

Niece: Yes. Mom, I’m even sorry I had to tell you about it. pats my sister’s hand like she is telling my sister some deep dark secret that my sister had no idea about and may be shocked by

Niece: I saw a baby being born in a movie today.

Sis: Really? Being born? Like how?

Niece: It was gross. It came out of the lady’s vagina. It was all yucky. I covered my eyes. I’m glad I don’t need to worry about that.

Sis: What do you mean?

Niece: I’m just a kid. I don’t need to worry about babies and stuff for 25 years!

Sis: Ha, glad to hear it.
Personally I think grade 3 is a wee bit young to learn about intercourse. If anything why not start with puberty and the changes to their bodies and that kind of thing. Why jump right into sex? Why sex-ed at all at this age?

So is grade three the norm for teaching human reproduction in class now? How old were your kids when they were taught sex-ed in school? How old were you? Are eight-year-olds mature enough to learn this kind of thing?

My sister is dreading the questions that are sure to be forthcoming. I’ve had a crap week and am looking forward to the laughs at her expense. :slight_smile:

Well, look at it this way, at least your niece is going to be learning this type of thing in class and not on the playground. When I was young a lot of kids thought sex was kissing someone while you were both naked. That certainly got cleared up when we hasd to sit through the whole sex-ed class in about 5th grade. Interesting stuff. They do tend to go through puberty and all that before they get to sex.
In regards to the OP, 3rd grade doesn’t seem too bad. Girls are physically maturing faster now, no I don’t have a cite, don’t hurt me. I forgot why but in a couple article I’ve read they say that the aversage age that a girl gets her period keeps going down, girls getting it at about 8-9 years old isn’t very odd anymore. Your niece is about that old isn’t she? I think schools are doing it more so that the little girls don’t spazz when it does happen. It’s better to be prepared.
Just MHO.

sigh my 900th post talking about little kids and sex, who would’ve thunk it?

Well, i learned it in 5th grade. We all learned about puberty and deoderant and tampons before sex. I think 3rd grade may be a little young, but like someone else said, better in the class room than in the playground.

I have a funny story about that, actually. One of my friends said people moaned during sex because it hurt. Wow, that thought changed when i discovered porno. LOL.


yes. Since puberty is related to bo, they gave us deodorant.

My eldest daughter started developing secondary sexual characterisics at age 9. Enough girls were menstruating by year 6 that the primary school had to be asked to install disposal facilities for sanitary protection products.

Good point. Facts about sex in class are better than wild third grade speculations and rumor I guess.

My sister said the same thing tonight. Her doctor mentioned that at an appointment she had today. I think it is odd that people are having their first child later in life than even 30 or so years ago and yet our girls are maturing at an earlier age. Anyone know why this is?

** ssj_man2k ** I have this mental picture of your 5th grade teacher just not being able to take teaching a bunch of puberty induced sweaty, smelly kids and saying, “For the Love of God! Here!” and handing out deoderant.

Why not? Flodjunior just finished first grade (yesterday, as a matter of fact) and he’s known how babies get made for years now.

My first exposure to sex education was learned from neighborhood kids when I was about seven. Their information was crude but surprisingly accurate. Since kids are even more exposed to sexual themes today, I’d say third grade is probably about the right time for the biological explanation; parents should precede this with their own which may or may not include moral issues.

My Mom told me absolutely nothing, neither did my school. Everything I did learn was from my peers and later from magazines and books.

Two sisters whose parents gave them ‘the talk’ told me that there was never any mention that sex might feel good or be fun. It was presented as a biological indignity that occured only after marriage in order to have children. When they became sexual they figured their parents’ version was just another lie like Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, etc. What they were feeling was another form of sex, certainly not the sex experienced by their parents.

The schools seem to give good information about the mechanics of it all, peers and the media describe the fun of it all. I think that parents should provide the emotional issues before someone else does, and they should do it honestly as is age-appropriate to the child.

It’s tough because you never know if you’ve given too much or too little. There are wonderful books that parents can buy to read with their kids if the parents are at all embarrased or unsure of age appropriateness.

the reason puberty is earlier for girls now than 150 years ago is directly related to nutrition. menstruation occurs when the body reaches a certain percentage of adult weight.
better food = more growth = heavier children = puberty.

average age of menarche 1890 was 16.
now it’s 12.

any how, if you’re that disturbed, don’t sign the consent form…

in the netherlands sex-ed begins at 4 and the dutch have the lowest teenage pregnancy rate in europe and wait 2 years longer than most europeans before their first sexual experience.

There are a lot of competing theories and studies that try to explain why girls are reaching puberty younger than ever.

One idea, and the one that seems to make the most sense to me, works on the fact that fat cells generate estrogen. And since the obesity rate of youngsters continues to rise, this contributes to earlier and earlier average puberty ages. The idea is pretty straightforward - if conditions are good enough so that a woman’s nutritional needs are being easily met, then the body reacts by preparing for reproduction as soon as possible.

Another interesting study showed a correlation between earlier puberty and an absence of the girls’ father. It seems that if a girl has more contact with her father, she tends to reach puberty later. But girls who had very little contact with their fathers tended to reach puberty earlier. The researchers hypothesized some sorth of pheromone influence, but the whole thing is mysterious. I find this result fascinating.

Then there’s the whole problem of estrogen analogues polluting water supplies. Not just these, but they’re finding more and more trace evidence of prescription drugs in the waterways, especially antibiotics, presumably because water treatment systems don’t filter them out of sewage.

But in some waterways, there are high quantities of estrogen analogues, and they seem to be affecting the wildlife. One study showed that male alligators in areas with high concentrations of estrogen analogues demonstrate smaller penises and more feminine characteristics. (I’m just waiting for a report of drag queen gators! Hah… sorry, couldn’t resist.)

Anyway, the bottom line is that we don’t rightly know… something is happening, since there is clear statistical evidence that girls are reaching puberty earlier and earlier. I tend to lean towards the obesity hypothesis, since it’s undeniable that childhood obesity is also a bigger and bigger problem these days. But I also recognize that it could be a combination of all of the factors above… plus maybe more not yet recognized by medical science.

I was in elementary/junior high school in the 60s - Sex Ed classes were 7th or 8th grade and involved sending the girls to one room and the boys to another. I don’t know what they taught the boys, but we learned all about periods. When my mother had “the talk” with me, she was obviously nervous and uncomfortable, and apart from showing me how to use pads and mentioning tampons, she gave me some business about babies being a gift from God to a married couple. I could never figure out how those unmarried girls managed to fool God and get pregnant…

Fast forward a lot of years - I took every “teaching opportunity” that presented itself to talk to my own daughter about sex and responsible behavior. I had to initiate a lot of the conversations because she seemed reluctant to broach the topic, but I think I managed to read her well and tell her what she needed when she was ready. In any event, at 15, she knows far more than I did at her age, including a certain amount of slang. When she had sex ed in school, I’d ask what they covered, and she said it was all stuff she already knew, so I’m glad she got it from me first.

She’s also informed me that she intends to finish college and have a career before she marries and squeezes out babies. Apparently the brainwashing worked! :smiley: Seriously, I think having been frank and open with her since she was very young has given here a healthy attitude about her sexuality. It also helps me cope to know that she’s got a good boyfriend who shares similar values and restraints. (No, not those kinds of restraints, you pervs…)

Anyway, regarding sex ed, the sooner the better, but best to come from mom and dad first.

Third grade sounds quite reasonable, or even a little late, for the basic where-do-babies-come-from questions. If your niece has a younger brother, surely she’s asked (or at least wondered) about some of this already?

IIRC, I had a fairly good grasp on the biological facts by the time I was seven. Emotions, of course, are another matter entirely :slight_smile:

Yeah, just to chime in, I had my first period when I was nine, and I knew all about it by then. Mainly from books my parents helpfully provided. I think we started “official” sex ed in the 5th grade though. I don’t think its too young, really. IMHO they’re going to hear it somewhere, the information might as well be accurate. IANAParent, of course.

My school gave us The Talk in grade 5. There was a girl in my class who thought that after a man had “planted the seed”, he became sterile until the baby was born.

If only it did work that way…

My Mother was an OB Nurse, so I don’t even remember not knowing how babies were born and I don’t remember getting “The Talk”. I do know that I was spouting the details to all my neighbors and friends by the time I was seven. I remember playing house with one of my friends, and she wanted to be a dolls Mommy. I said “Who’s the Daddy?” and she said, “There isn’t one.” I was quick to inform her that she couldn’t have a baby without a daddy, and then proceeded to tell her why. I didn’t get in so much trouble that time because my mom thought that she should have known about the bird and the bees by then anyways(she was eight). I did get stern talking to explaining that some parents don’t like to explain those kinds of things to their kids until they are older. I got in big trouble when I explained it to my 4 year old neighbor though, I never did it again after that one. When I have children I think that I will go by the “If they are old enough to ask, they are old enough to know” rule.

We had sex ed in about grade 4 I think, and I remember some pretty cheezy videos about STDs and the like. What I don’t understand is why the boys got to go outside and play basketball while we were having our “What makes us women talk”, but we girls had to stay inside and listen to the boys talk. Totally unfair if you ask me.

As for the developing at an early age, think that I read somewhere(sorry, no site) that it had something with the horemones they give cows to make them produce more milk. I don’t know how accurate that is though.

I had sex ed in grade 3, nearly 20 years ago, so I think your niece will be fine. I love the seriousness with which she approaches the topic :slight_smile:

As for getting the Talk from my folks: Still hasn’t happened. I have a recurring daydream where my parents are on their deathbed going “Son, about the birds and the <ack… thump>”

It seems to me your niece was being taught Human Reproduction, (I was about the same age as your niece when they taught me this). I seem to remember this being distinctly different from sex ed where we were taught contraception and sexual responsibility, i.e.; you get pregnant or you get someone pregnant you become responsible, and condoms are the best protection against VD, etc. (I was taught this at age 12-13). It was before AIDS, I imagine my old school has updated the course by now.

The UUA church has their “Our Whole Lives” program where the materials start at kindergarten age. I think anyone can order the materials from beacon press if they are interested.

(Yes, that’s right, my kids will likely get sex ed in Sunday school).

Fourth grade for me, and it was called “Family Life”. The boys and girls were split into different classrooms and we watched videos, and then all filed into the auditorium to listen to someone (teacher? expert? porn star?) speak and then answer questions that we wrote on index cards. The speaker took the stack of about 30 cards, read through them, and threw 26 of them away. Apparently my fellow 9-year-old boys had questions that you would expect at that level of maturity …

Then eighth grade, except it was called “Sex Ed” at that point. My first introduction to sex ed and contraception, and I remember crossing my legs and whimpering as the teacher described gonorrhea.

And a required “Health” class in high school (you could take it either as a sophomore, junior, or senior) with even more detail.

Surprisingly enough, all kids had to take sex ed in our Catholic church as well. Contraception was covered, which still amuses me today. “Here’s how to use it. BUT DON’T USE IT. Well, here’s how if you have to. BUT DON’T.”