Talking to your children about puberty is something that makes most parents uncomfortable. Most of us try to deal with this topic by not dealing with it. We leave it to the school and its "health education" class. However, we all know that the best place for our children to learn about these kinds of issues is at home. A few questions that parents always ask are "When do I need to start thinking about this?" and "How should I do this?".
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents start to address these issues as soon as the child is old enough to ask where babies come from (about age 3-4 years old). Obviously you must tailor the conversation to the child's age and development. The early stages of puberty can start around 8-9 years old in girls and a little later in boys. Therefore, this is a good time to start the early conversations about what happens to the body as we mature. If you as a parent start the conversation at this age, then the part about sex education gets much easier at the later ages. Those "later ages" come earlier than we want to think about: you should be doing the sex education talk around age 10-12. It is helpful to know that the average age of menses for girls in this country is 12.5 years. And, the cold, hard truth is a girl can become pregnant as soon as she is menstrual. So, do yourself and your child a favor and start the conversation at home at an early age.
Most of us find it easier to deal with this subject if we have some kind of guide. There are a few good books out there to help us. For boys there's What's Happening to my Body; Book for Boys and for girls there's the Body Book for Girls. I found both of these to be informative and helpful in discussing the changes that occur during puberty. The Body Book for Girls has many helpful hints on sleep, diet, hygiene, and exercise. Another good book is It's Perfectly Normal. This book is good for both genders. I have to say this one is my favorite because it covered everything from puberty to sex education.