5 Practical Activities for Teaching Consent and Sex Ed in your PDHPE Classroom

Nov 22, 2023

Consent and sex education are important topics for students to learn, but they can be difficult subjects for teachers to broach in an engaging way. In a recent interview for The PDHPE & CAFS Podcast, Natalie Stokell shares practical strategies she uses in her own workshops that bring these topics to life for students through interactive activities. 

As a psychologist and educator focused on comprehensive sex education, Natalie stresses the importance of moving beyond an outdated "yes/no" model of consent to explore nuances. She provides PDHPE teachers with five hands-on activities they can implement to facilitate meaningful discussions around communication, boundaries, and negotiation.

The first activity Natalie describes involves partner massages or shoulder rubs. PDHPE students pair up and take turns giving feedback on what feels good or not as they gently touch each other. This introduces concepts of verbal and nonverbal cues for consent in a low-pressure way. After swapping partners, teachers can guide a discussion on responsibility, comfort levels, and saying no - laying groundwork for understanding consent as an ongoing conversation rather than a single decision.

A second activity compares consent to interactions with pets. PDHPE students consider cues animals give when wanting affection or signaling to stop. Natalie notes this helps apply the same principles to human relationships in an accessible way. A related activity has students form lines facing each other and slowly step closer while continuously checking in verbally on the other's comfort level, demonstrating boundaries and respect.

For older PDHPE students, Natalie suggests an activity where greetings like hugs are negotiated before interaction. This provides practice explicitly communicating preferences rather than assuming, while still allowing for fluidity over time. Role playing scenarios from videos gives students a chance to implement tools for consent in a safe environment. Natalie stresses the importance of discussion and reflection so students can process experiences on personal and societal levels.

By bringing these topics into the physical realm through interactive exercises, Natalie finds students better remember lessons on communication and respect. PDHPE teachers gain practical strategies for facilitating important conversations in a developmentally-appropriate manner. When implemented thoughtfully, activities can transform typically difficult PDHPE subjects into engaging learning experiences that empower students with tools for healthy relationships.