Educating the Whole Child: Human Development & Sexuality
By Sara Cotner, Founder & CEO of Montessori For All in Austin, TX
Montessori For All is an organization that is trying to cultivate leaders of the future through an innovative and personalized model. This mission leads us to consciously consider how our model helps the whole child to grow: academically, socially, emotionally, culturally, linguistically, and physically. Part of growing the whole child entails helping children understand human development--including puberty, sexual intercourse, responsible choices, the difference between sex and gender, etc.
At Montessori For All, our intent is to start these conversations young. Given children's exposure to media, children often start these conversations among themselves at earlier and earlier ages. As a means of helping children receive accurate information about human development from trusted adults, we are designing a program that starts with four-year-olds. By reaching some of our youngest children with factual, age-appropriate curriculum, we can attempt to inoculate against the inaccurate or disrespectful information they may receive from peers or media.
The program we are currently designing uses anchor texts to guide all of the trusted adults in a child's life and to help them use a common language. Grounding this portion of our model with anchor texts also helps establish expectations and create a shared understanding between the classroom and home. Here are the books that our team worked together to select:
1st Grade Spring: What Makes a Baby (read in class, brought home to families)
2nd Grade Spring: What Makes a Baby (read in class, brought home to families)
3rd Grade Spring: It's Not the Stork (read in class, brought home to families)
4th Grade Spring: It's So Amazing (read in class, brought home to families); ages 7+
5th + 6th Grade Spring: It's Perfectly Normal (read in class, brought home to families); ages 10+
In the earliest levels, the family is the first exposure to these ideas. By lower elementary, the idea is that teachers begin using these books as read aloud. The books are also sent home to families for follow-up.
Our goal is to create a supportive partnership between home and school that surrounds children with developmentally-appropriate, accurate information that helps them better understand themselves, others, and the world.
The draft of our program can be found here: https://goo.gl/ynKnDP.