5 tips for successful homeschool sex education
After the so-called Easter holidays, 807,000 children missed their first formative relationships and sex education (RSE) class at school – and that’s just the Year 6s. So we created some free lesson plans for ages 4 to 11+ and for ages 11 to 16+ to better equip parents to DIY these topics at home – from puberty and body image to consent and porn.
If the school biology teacher thought they had it rough, parents up and down the country are wondering how on earth to give their kids the sex ed they deserve. Here’s what we’ve learned...
Professional sex educator Dr Jean Milburn and her son Otis in Netflix’s Sex Education
1. Stay positive
Fear is part of the job description for parents, but it’s not always helpful to lay your protective instincts on too thick. For years sex education has been all about the risks: STIs and unwanted pregnancy. But we know now that when sex education focuses on abstinence – on avoiding or delaying sex – it can be counterproductive.
Try to meet your child where they are, in the real world. Trust them with the facts (they can find out anyway!) and show some excitement about the love and happiness that could lie in store for them
2. Listen as much as you talk
Asking your child for their opinion is one of the best ways we know to strike up a productive conversation. What relationships advice would they give a younger friend? Where do they stand on trans rights and toilets in school? How would most people feel about being asked for a nude photo?
3. Mix your media: videos work
OK, even though you’re trying to cut your child some slack during these difficult days, you’re still concerned about screentime, so every second argument is about the TV or a tablet. But nothing breaks the ice like a 5-minute video clip – try amaze.org or everybodycurious.com.
Engage your child with as much variety as you can. Our homeschooling lessons include drawing, watching, cutting out, sorting, hunting and searching.
Can your 5-year-old turn human outlines into a grown-up woman and man with labels? Can your 8-year-old find evidence in your house of a hero who isn’t muscly? Can your 12-year-old sort puberty changes into male, female or both?
4. Be inclusive
You have an opportunity here that your child’s teachers don’t. Away from giggling friends and social anxieties, your child can feel freer to consider difference with an open mind. What might it feel like to have 2 mums, to question your gender or to see sex through the lens of a different culture? Your home is probably the safest place there is for your child to talk about diversity and to open their heart to difference
5. Go heavy on the compliments
If adolescence is your child’s greatest adventure so far, self-esteem will be their suit of armour on the way. A good sex & relationships education helps guide young people towards self-knowledge and self-appreciation, which are the foundation of any good relationship. Is what’s on the inside more important than what’s on the outside?
Take a look together at our Body Image lesson for a list of qualities including strong, caring, trustworthy, funny, creative… Which 3 would their friends use to describe them?