Children usually receive their first lesson about puberty at school in Year 5. Sex and relationships education (SRE) isn’t compulsory in primary schools, although most schools think it is important to tackle puberty, which is a live issue for them given that puberty starts for girls between the ages of eight and 13 and boys between nine and 14.
Those aspects of sex and growing up that form part of the national science curriculum do have to be covered. The 2015 National Curriculum for Year 5 Science includes bodily changes, saying that: ‘Pupils should be taught to describe the changes as humans develop to old age’ – which may well be interpreted as covering puberty.
Parents have the right to withdraw their children from lessons about puberty and sex where these form part of SRE, but not from lessons that form part of the national science curriculum.
Tips on talking to your child about puberty
Even if your child is taught about sex education at school in informative and high-quality lessons, it is still a good idea to talk to them about growing up. It is important that they feel they can talk to you and come to you with questions in the confusing and challenging time that is puberty. We are aware that children are exploring their identity at this age. We respect the fact that children may need extra support with this, such as those confused about their sexual identity or orientation. Please come into school and speak with us if you feel your child needs additional support.
Below are a few top tips to support you in supporting your child when discussing puberty:
- It is best to introduce the topic of puberty to your child as young as you are comfortable with, so they know about it before they start developing.
- Ask your child’s school about the kind of lessons they will have on the topic and when they will happen. Visit our Learning for Life Curriculum page for detailed curriculum overviews and our long term plan. You can then tailor your talk based on what they will learn/ have already
- Try to avoid making it a formal, daunting process. Keep the conversation light and short in a relaxed, comfortable environment. It doesn’t have to be a 40-minute lecture – a quick 10 minute chat about what happens to your body as you grow older would be a good enough start. Our piece on talking about sex might help you: the suggestions in this article can also be applied to talking about puberty.
- Let your child know you’re always happy to answer any questions they have, or, if they’d prefer, suggest they talk to another family member or trusted adult – maybe an older brother or sister or close family friend.