Teachable Moments

A teachable moment is a point in time that there is an opportunity for a teacher, parent, or mentor to share a piece of knowledge with their student.  They are a point in time when due to circumstances that are not planned, the student is most receptive to learning a particular lesson. Teachable moments are spontaneously generated, and the moment may or may not be repeated.  This once in a lifetime aspect of teachable moments mean that it is important for adults to take advantage of each and every teachable moment that occurs in their student’s life. 

While it is important that all parents take advantage of teachable moments, it is particularly important for homeschooling parents to utilize these opportunities because they are not only parent but teacher.

There are three things that parents and teachers must do to have maximum impact during teachable moments.

Encourage the child’s natural, inquisitive nature. When children are encouraged to ask questions, and are given answers that are age appropriate to questions, they learn that inquiring is not only acceptable, but
encouraged.  Consider the time period when children are learning language, and they point at an item, a ball
perhaps.  The young parent immediately jumps in and supplies the word ball.  In the moment when a child discovers the item has a name, she is encouraged to ask what other things are, and colors, shapes. 
There seem to be many teachable moments when a child is very young, because they have so much to learn.  If
the parent fosters a child’s curiosity when the child is young, then there will be more teachable moments as the child grows older.  If the parent is unresponsive to the child’s desire to learn, then there are likely to be fewer teachable moments as the child gets older.

Be engaged in your child’s life.  While teachable moments are spontaneously generated opportunities, if the parent is not attentive to the child’s circumstances it is easy to let a teachable moment pass by unnoticed.  If a parent is too engrossed in the television, internet, or smart phone, then that parent is probably missing opportunities to teach their children.  A parent or teacher needs to know a child, understand what the child is going through at the time, and watch for chances to add insight to the child’s existence.  The dinner table is a classic time for teachable moments.  Find out how your child’s day went, find out about the moments during the day when your child would have been receptive to learning.  Be gentle in leading the child to the answer.  Remember that teachable moments are not lectures, but moments of guidance, when the parent or teacher helps the child come to the correct conclusion or understanding. 

As the teacher, be knowledgeable.  It is true that teachable moments are generally spontaneous.  It is not possible to know when a moment might occur, but it is possible to be aware of when a teachable moment might
occur.   This may sound confusing, but perhaps an example will clarify.  If a parent were to take her child to a Civil War battlefield as a field trip, it would be in everyone’s best interest for the parent to study up a little bit.  The parent should brush up on their history of the location and the period.  Learn something about the major figures associated with that battle field.  Read a little about the politics, medicine, and ammunition of the period.  By being
well read on the subject, the parent will be able to help the child learn, in the moment when the child is most engaged, in this case, when the child is at the battlefield.  The more knowledgeable a parent is, in general, the less likely he is to be caught off guard.  While it is permissible to tell the child you don’t know, and can look it up when you get home, it is preferable to teach in the moment.  Your child is more likely to remember if they get an answer when they ask the question instead of hours later.

Teachable moments are the parents or teachers responsibility.  The children do not necessarily know what they don’t know and therefore don’t know what they need to ask, or what they should learn in a certain situation.  Teachable moments should not be lectures, and they do not have to be associated with something traumatic.  The classic example of traumatic teachable moment is driving by the scene of an accident, indicating the injured person
being loaded into the ambulance, then stating that if they had used their seat belt they would not have been injured so badly. Teachable moments should occur when a child is interested and receptive and traumatic teachable moments, while memorable, may not occur when the child is most receptive to learning.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by vani on December 12, 2014 at 2:22 am

    The blogs which i receive are well equipped and child centered…I make it a habbit of discussing these in assesembly..thank you so much…


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