Friday, June 14, 2019

Puberty - Supplementing What's Taught at School

My elder daughter has completed the Puberty segment of the health sciences curriculum that the Hong Kong Education Bureau requires all schools to teach to their fifth-graders. Her Longman General Studies textbook devotes less than 20 pages to this subject and uses large illustrations and even larger text. The curriculum is so general (literally "general" studies!) that I worry it will leave students with more questions than answers. And so, we have supplemented at home with these excellent non-fiction titles that contain age-appropriate details:

Robie H. Harris is the best-known author in this subject area and has sold millions of books. She has a whole series of books for various age groups. Her book, It's So Amazing, is stated as being suitable for children ages 7-10. It covers how babies are made, and is definitely not for reading alone because each page is filled with paragraphs of text and information. I would suggest reading it aloud to this age group only if the child is curious and has already begun asking questions. I believe this book may be easier to digest for children ages 10-12, to read with parents or alone.

Harris's book It's Perfectly Normal is for tweens, and covers changing bodies and sexual health. It elaborates on the subjects covered in the Hong Kong curriculum.

Kelli Dunham is a registered nurse AND a stand-up comic. The fifth editions of her two books, The Girl's Body Book and The Boy's Body Book, were just published last month and contain updated information relevant to tweens and teens in 2019 and beyond. Not only does Dunham cover physical changes and their accompanying emotions, she also writes chapters relevant to growing up in general. For example, she provides tips on study skills in the chapter "Your Changing Body in the Outside World", and shares advice on how to protect yourself from peer pressure and cyberbullying in the chapter "Staying Safe IRL and Beyond".

I love that her chapter on getting along with parents and siblings is titled "What Do These People Want From Me?" The tone of her books are casual conversational rather than laugh-aloud funny; she's wearing her "nurse's hat" to give tweens and teens the information they need to take care of themselves. I think the stand-up comic side of her helps enhance her connection with readers through her choice of language and the flow of the chapters.

American Girl's publications for girls, The Care & Keeping of You, are such a hit that there is also one for boys called Guy Stuff. Book 1 is for younger girls and is easy to read. The book is categorized by different parts of the body, starting from the head (braces and acne) to torso (underarms and breasts) and below (body shape & nutrition, pubic area & periods).

Because the two girl publications are mostly about physical changes, there is another book titled The Feelings Book that covers the complicated and ever-changing emotions of adolescents. It starts with "When you were little, your emotions were simple. You smiled when you were happy. You cried when you were scared or hurt," and goes on discuss being on an emotional roller coaster.

We don't have any American Girl dolls at home, and my daughters are not interested in dolls in general. All I know about this brand is that its dolls and accessories are super-expensive, so I didn't expect much from the "Smart Girl's Guide" series published by American Girl. My set is a hand-me-down from my girlfriend whose daughter loved it as a tween.

I've been reading these books with both my daughters, the younger one being only eight years old, and they are a hit in our home! The format is easy and direct, with simple language, and covers relevant topics like Drama, Rumors & Secrets. Other books in this series include Digital World, Friendship Troubles, Money, Worry, Sports & Fitness and Boys.

And finally, for girls aged 11 and older, HelloFlo: The Guide, Period. approaches puberty from an angle of empowerment. In addition to covering everything related to menstruation, including comparing the different products available, this book also explains all the other aspects of puberty. It's nice that the last chapter encourages girls to develop good friendships with other girls, and discusses the importance of girl power when girls stick together.

Was it really more than a decade ago that I read and re-read my dog-eared copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting? with all my highlights and Post-It tabs? Heidi Murkoff has so many other titles in this series, I wonder why she hasn't come out with a What To Expect The Teen Years?

Surfing the Internet, I see so many funny titles for real books on parenting teenagers:

Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall
Have a New Teenager by Friday
The Grown-Up's Guide to Teenage Humans
How to Talk So Teens Will Listen and Listen So Teens Will Talk
He's Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe in Himself
Dial Down the Drama: Reducing Conflict and Reconnecting with Your Teenage Daughter
Ending the Parent-Teen Control Battle

I have not read any of these parenting books, because I hope that my current formula will continue to work: applying my Canadian humour when dealing with my kids + spending time with husband, friends and other adults + gin & tonics.

1 comment:

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