I have myself received and seen many questions on other on-line forums and discussion groups regarding sexual education for the child under the age of 7. Children are very curious about their bodies, about other children’s bodies and yes, about sex. This especially occurs at age four and again at age 6.
I have no problem calling a vagina a vagina or a penis a penis or talking about how boys and girls are different. I personally am very grateful our Creator made us different!
However, when a six year old starts asking direct and specific questions regarding how a sperm gets into an egg or how “males and females mate” or something very direct along those lines, I have a few thoughts.
From an anthroposophical perspective, the child is a spiritual being on a spiritual journey. We address the under-7 child with these questions the same way we address other questions children under-7 child asks. We provide pictorial imagery through fairy tales (think of the number of fairy tales where a baby just “shows up” after the parents wish for a baby- Thumbelina comes to mind, the Polish tale of The Hedgehog Prince and many, many of the Grimm’s tales). These really point to the spiritual longing for a child to be a part of the family and I think is a lovely thing not to bring in right the moment a child asks a pointed question, but at bedtime or at other times since you know this is on your child’s mind! (Yes, nothing like asking a pointed question that like in line at the grocery store and you launching into a repetitive version of The Hedgehog Prince right then and there, LOL).
Nature tales, not pointed factoid nature tales of animals mating, but of animals creating a family and a space for new life also come to mind. Looking for animal babies on nature walks, looking for baby birds in nests, rejoicing at all the new life about and around is an important part of establishing reverence for
Some families answer these types of questions from a religious or spiritual perspective and say that God helped put the baby inside Mommy, or that the baby choose the Mommy and Daddy and big brother or sister and how lucky we all are! Sometimes if you are just calm, warm and silent for a moment the child will provide their own answer to their very own question! That is a special thing to be witness to!
You may say, well, if my child is asking a very direct and pointed question, isn’t it my job to answer that question? Yes, but in an age appropriate way. A six-year old is not ready to hear an intricate accounting of sexual intercourse and is at the height of sexual curiousity and play, so providing pictorial imagery that coincides with the wonder and beauty of new life is most appropriate. The more factual (and often devoid of wonder and reverence) descriptions found in “child discovery” kinds of books can be kept for later as the child reaches greater depths of understanding and maturity than an under-7 child possesses.
Sometimes children ask us innocent questions and are not asking us to provide the factual answer we as adults think they are asking. The point is not to pull them into their heads regarding all this, but to point out this journey of new life that is created by love. Honor that, cherish that, nurture that, and provide the right information in the right way at the right time.