Many parents are worried about their children’s success in school, even when their children are still infants and toddlers. Stores are packed with toys and materials advertised to help your baby learn, but they’re not necessary. Neither are the elaborate games, worksheets, flash cards, and other “learning activities” some parents create for their children.
The problem is that parents who are so busy quizzing their child on the ABCs, colors and numbers, they miss the best opportunities to help their children learn.
The best way to help children learn is by taking advantage of everyday teachable moments
Teachable moments aren’t about counting how many apples are in the bag when you go to the grocery store, but are about being eager to respond to your child’s natural curiosity and to share discoveries with your child.
Just like adults, children enjoy learning at their own pace through a teachable moments instead through drills and quizzes set up on someone else’s schedule.
Learning about Feelings
Teachable moments are the perfect time to help your child learn about feelings. Let’s say your three year old just pushed another child off the slide. What better time to ask “How do you think your friend feels right now?” Or to remind your child to use words rather than actions by modeling appropriate phrases like “Can I please have a turn?” Either way, your child will learn more through this teachable moment than by coloring an “I Can Share” coloring sheet.
Strengthening Problem-Solving Skills
Problem-solving skills can also be developed through teachable moments. Instead of freaking out when your seven year old spills juice all over the kitchen floor, take a deep breath and embrace the teachable moment. You’ve got the opportunity to build your child’s self-esteem by letting him take responsibility for his actions and to let him know you see him as capable and competent by letting him figure out how to fix the problem.
Even young children need opportunities to solve their own problems. If the toy on the blanket is too far away for baby to reach, he’ll soon learn that he can pull the blanket to bring the toy closer. If there are two cookies and three children, let them figure out how to share fairly. As adults it’s so easy to jump in and fix our children’s problems, but in doing so we’re missing a valuable teaching moment to let our children see themselves as competent people who can solve their own problems.
World Around Us
Teachable moments help our children learn about the world around them. When you walk outside on a chilly morning to find last night’s puddle frozen solid, it’s the perfect time to help your child learn that liquids turn to solids. When you need to go to the post office, or the dentist, or the grocery store, take your child along to see mail being processed, how to care for teeth, and that food doesn’t just pop into the refrigerator by itself.
When your child finds a spider, take a moment to watch what the spider is doing and talk about it with your child. Instead of telling your child facts, ask questions to get your child thinking, “Why does a spider spin a web?” “What color is the spider?” “How many legs does the spider have?”
Children’s natural curiosity about the world around them opens the door for teachable moments every day. We just need to put down the worksheets and walk through.
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