Back to basics

sexuality education basicsI’ve been thinking about puberty more recently, and how to go about addressing a topic that can range from the very, deeply emotional to something that is barely noticed.

My own experience with puberty was relatively easy. I certainly wasn’t traumatized by the experience, but I know people who were.

And so this week I am focusing on Chapter 8 of Changes, Changes, Changes: Problem-Solving and Perception. The introduction to the chapter reads thusly:

Adolescence is a period where many students are struggling to “fit in” with their peers. At the same time, they are dealing with the physical and emotional changes brought on by puberty. Throughout this process, students may become increasingly focused on their physical selves, while struggling to keep their emotional selves unharmed from peer rejection. As educators, it is our duty to support our students as much as possible throughout this complicated time. In this chapter, lessons are focused on problem-solving and perception. Specifically, activities involve fostering problem-solving skills, ways to deal with puberty changes, ways to think critically about appearance and how to deal with social problems and peer rejection.

How fantastic would it be for every young person who needed this kind of support to get it?



By the end of this lesson, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the six steps in the problem-solving process.
  2. Apply the problem-solving process to issues that involve body care and body concerns.

Middle school children devote much time and energy to body problems and concerns. These concerns evoke strong emotional responses to which children have limited cognitive understanding and coping skills for resolution. Problem-solving skills provide children with a rational process for dealing with everyday body concerns. It channels their energies into a more constructive method of achieving greater comfort and self-acceptance.


Maybe I should start my discussion of this lesson plan by acknowledging that my 13 year old came home from school today complaining about a decision-making lesson she had in school today. It involved three words that began with the letter ‘C’ but she couldn’t remember the words.

And so yes, sometimes these lesson plans can seem dorky. My daughter certainly thought that she knew the steps before they were verbalized. But she is going through puberty (so far) relatively easily.

It’s the young people who feel overwhelmed with their problems and decisions that these lessons are written for – and I think it’s okay for my daughter to sit through 25 minutes of a lesson on handling puberty that she doesn’t need if it reaches students who do need it.

The steps that this lesson includes that my daughter’s lesson didn’t are the final two:

5. Try it.
6. Think about how it worked.

And I love these two steps! They’re such a critical reminder of the circular nature of decisions. I only wish this lesson had gone even a little bit further to verbalizing the possibility of trying a different solution if you weren’t happy with the way the first one worked.

sex education Changes