How to create teachable moments

You have probably all heard of this term ‘teachable moment’, but do you really know what it means?

According to About Education, a teachable moment is defined as ‘an unplanned opportunity that arises in the classroom where a teacher has an ideal chance to offer insight to his or her students. A teachable moment is not something that you can plan for; rather it is a fleeting opportunity that must be sensed and seized by the teacher.”

Although, this is a great definition, you don’t have to be a ‘teacher’ or in a ‘classroom’ to ‘sense and seize’ a teachable moment. There are may times as part of normal parenting when mothers have teachable moments with their children – they just don’t know it!

But why are teachable moments so important? Well, it’s organic nature is timed perfectly to the child’s interest means children are able to process information more semantically (i.e. deeply). This will enable them to retain and recall information more readily. So it makes sense that we should be trying to create opportunities for as many teachable moments as possible, and be making the most out of each one. And mothers are in the prime position of being able to create so many of these opportunities as part of their every day life. Here’s how….

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Be active:

I am afraid there’s nothing easier than getting up out of bed and going outdoors. There are plenty of opportunities in nature for you to create beautiful teachable moments with your children, i.e. exploring the bark on a tree, or talking about an insect that lands nearby. But don’t be misled, there are plenty of opportunities for teachable moments inside the home too, i.e. why it is important to wipe up a spill on the floor, or why we water the indoor plants.

Encourage lots of questions:

Why? Why? Why? If I had a dollar for every time a toddler asked “why”! But don’t interpret this behaviour as annoying, instead take advantage of the opportunity to give them a great answer, and encourage more questions.

Ask lots of questions:

You are at the park with your little one. While you’re here you might as well make the most of the opportunity, so you ask him “what can you see with your eyes?”, “what can you hear with your ears?”, “What can you smell with your nose?” and so on. Get him to explore with his senses and explain with his words what he is experiencing.

Show empathy:

These a beautiful moments. Your child falls over or has a tantrum. Instead of saying ‘get up, you’re fine’ or ‘it’ll be okay’, get down to their level and let them process their emotions. Comforting a child by rubbing their back and letting them express how they feel will demonstrate to your little one the importance of allowing people time to express their emotions. It also reinforces them that showing emotion is okay. Showing empathy can also involve showing kindness, such as giving up your seat for a pregnant or elderly person.

Role model:

Equally important as show empathy is role modelling. After all, we are defined by what we do, not by what we say. If you bang your head on a cupboard door and feel like crying, but you’re worried about letting your child see you cry. My advice, if you want to cry, then do. Showing a normal response to a common experience is a good way demonstrate normal and appropriate responses.

So here they are, a few easy strategies that you can add to your day to create more opportunities for teachable moments.

Can you see yourself implementing these strategies as part of your day, or do you do them already without realising?

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About Lauren Jackman (161 Articles)
Lauren Jackman is the author of Canberra Mummy. A self-confessed perfectionist, Lauren writes about the truth about pregnancy and parenting for perfectionist mummies. Lauren is a mum, wife, author, runner and a not a bad cook

2 Comments on How to create teachable moments

  1. Hi Lauren! Hope you don’t mind I added your post to our parents directory website as an excerpt. do let me know if you are ok with this on twitter

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