As caregivers and educators, we want our children to be informed and empowered to make healthy choices when it comes to their social, emotional, and physical health. Dialogues about reproductive health and development usually take place during adolescence and early adulthood – often as a result of medical problems or inappropriate or self-destructive behaviors; these dialogues are often corrective and “after-the-fact” in nature. The years before adolescence are a crucial developmental period and a vital opportunity to teach young people the foundational understandings and skills necessary to grow into happy, healthy adults.
Experienced health educator Ekem Merchant-Bleiberg addresses these issues in ten-week Human Development and Sexuality residencies with our 7th and 8th graders. Her curriculum addresses student understanding and self-help skills regarding human development and sexuality through age-appropriate activities and discussions. Her program is designed to create a safe and dynamic space for kids to learn and talk about the challenging issues and questions connected to reproductive health, identity, and social/emotional development. These PTA-funded residencies are part of a three-year health education course in grades 6-8.