As a parent of a child in Year 6, I am keenly aware that Book Boy may not be returning to school in time to do all the usual ‘end of Year 6’ things – performances, shirt signings, the sex education session which I am sure many parents (including myself) are not overly confident in delivering themselves in the possible absence of a school to do so.
As a former teacher of Year 6, I have had to deliver ‘the big talk’ to pupils before, have watched the videos and fielded some of the weird, wonderful and insightful questions the children have asked. Although I hope to be able to hold such a conversation with my own son with the same level of professionalism, I am not sure it will be quite that easy!
In order to be prepared, I headed to Twitter to ask for people’s top book recommendations. I think that books are brilliant for RSE as they can be read quietly and alone if that’s what a child prefers, or they can be shared together and discussed. They can also be read in advance so that you know what language is appropriate to use and to be prepared for any questions.
So before I share some recommended reads, these are my top tips for talking to your children about sex and relationships:
- Read any books you plan to share beforehand – check language used and content covered.
- Keep any explanations short and to the point – too much information can be overwhelming and your child may be too embarrassed to listen for long
- Be prepared for questions and know where to find the answers! – children may be happier writing questions on post-it notes rather than asking aloud.
‘Respect: Consent, Boundaries and Being in Charge of You,’ by Rachel Brian (Hachette Publishing)
‘Respect’ is a very accessible, highly-illustrated text presented in a comic book style which makes it an easily digestible way of broaching potentially tricky subjects with children, starting with an explanation of what ‘consent’ actually means.
The book then goes on to explore the ideas of: body autonomy, trusting your gut feelings, giving and getting consent, saying no and changing your mind, growing healthy relationships, reflecting on your past behaviour and helping others in a bad situation. Although that may seem like a lot of information, all the concepts are explained in a short and snappy way which will appeal to young readers. You can read my full review HERE.
‘Lift-the-Flap Questions & Answers About Growing up,’ by Katie Daynes, illustrated by Shelley Laslo (Usborne)
A great addition to the classic lift-the-flap range from Usborne. This one features over 60 flaps and tackles some of the whys and wherefores of growing older and puberty in bite-sized format. It looks at what changes might happen to a boy or girl’s body as they get older and why these changes occur. It uses proper biological vocabulary (vagina, penis, sperm, uterus) as it discusses hormones, periods, shaving and more. Although it describes the functions of the reproductive organs, no explanation as to the physical process of sex is given. I would say this would be great for children aged 9+
‘Dr. Christian’s Guide to Growing Up,’ by Dr Christian Jessen, illustrated by Dave Semple (Scholastic)
Dr Christian Jessen is a TV presenter as well as a doctor and has dedicated his time to demystifying the medical world for the general public. As you would expect, this title takes a no nonsense approach to adolescence, emotional health and body image. It explains changes for both boys and girls in an accessible manner. There is a section about sex, as well as staying safe and staying healthy. Recommended for readers aged 10+
The ‘Growing Up’ series (Usborne)
This comes in a version for girls and a different version for boys. At the time of publishing this post, the ebook version was on sale for £0.98! I would suggest that these titles are best-suited for children transitioning to secondary school due to their sexual content, but of course, this is very dependent on the maturity and needs of the child.
The ‘Boys’ Edition (by Alex Frith, illustrated by Kate Sutton) – this title describes the physical and emotional changes a boy will experience as they go through puberty. It also tackles the subjects of drugs, cyber-bullying, and mental health, and explains in brief some of the changes girls go through too. There is a section about sex and contraception which is sensitively written yet factual and should help set minds at ease.
The ‘Girls’ Edition (by Felicity Brooks, illustrated by Katie Lovell) – of course, this title explains the physical and emotional changes girls may experience as they get older, including periods, buying bras, mood changes, exam stress and eating disorders. It also covers sex and relationships, STIs, contraception and body image. There’s a summary of the changes boys go through too.
BBC Class Clips RSE KS2: Puberty – What’s happening to my body? Accompanied by useful notes and questions.
See the PSHE programme of study HERE
I hope that you find the resource above useful. I’d love to hear if you use any of them or have any other tried and tested recommendations.