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While the COVID-19 pandemic surged last spring, my kindergartner learned how snails use a radula to eat. My second grader studied praying mantises. Our backyard became a snail and praying mantis lookout. After at-home school, we talked about coronavirus, why I suddenly wasn’t working at the student health center, and why daddy was changing clothes when he came home from working at the hospital. I imagined what life would have been like if, in addition to learning about the radula, our kids also learned about the trachea and bronchi of our lungs.But the California Department of Education Science Curriculum framework doesn’t include human biology in the elementary school science curriculum. Kids in California public schools first learn about their bodies in the context of reproductive and sexual health. These conversations start in fifth grade at the earliest and are primarily part of middle and high school curricula.
Yet, studies have indicated that by age 4, children can learn biological facts found in picture books and apply them to real world examples. Very young children are also capable of understanding the concepts of contagion and healthful behaviors. Moreover, picture books that show how things work can be particularly helpful …
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