February 2021 Newsletter: Taking Advantage of Teachable Moments – Capitalizing on Teachable Moments with Children

In order to make the most of teachable moments, educators must first recognize them as they arise in the learning environment. Recognizing begins with understanding that children learn about the world and their place in it through their interactions with materials and other people. Be sure to provide a variety of opportunities for children to play together, explore materials, and engage in meaningful conversations with adults. It is in these moments that teachable moments will emerge.

Teachers should also become curious about the children in their care. Watch children as they play. Notice the way they are manipulating materials and the conversations they are having with peers. Make note of what children can and cannot yet do. Having information about the skills children are working toward can lead you to be present for children during critical teachable moments.  Notice children as they make new discoveries and enthusiastically share their observations. Make note of topics that hold children’s interests and attention.

Consider this example that occurred one day in a preschool classroom. After coming in from the playground, a child noticed a large bug on another child’s coat. Several children approached and looked at the bug.  Fortunately for the children, their teacher recognized this teachable moment and said, “I see that you are really interested in this bug.  I don’t want it to get hurt. How could we watch it safely?”  A child suggested they use one of the bug boxes from the science center and together they caught the bug and carried the bug box to the table for further observation.

Enough of the children were interested in observing the bug that the teacher put the lessons she had planned on hold so that the children could continue to observe the bug. Children not interested in the bug were encouraged to pick a learning center to explore. One teacher stayed with the bug watchers and listened to their comments, answered their questions, and posed a few questions of her own. This went on for about 15 minutes before the children slowly started to turn their attention to other activities.  The teacher suggested that the few remaining children work together to create a plan to return the bug to the playground, including the safest place to set it free.

This example demonstrates one of the most important characteristics required to capitalize on teachable moments: flexibility!  Teachers must be willing to adjust and shift when necessary to make time for meaningful interactions to become teachable moments.

For the main article Taking Advantage of Teachable Moments, CLICK HERE

For the article Examples of Teachable Moments, CLICK HERE

For the article Teachable Moments with Families, CLICK HERE

For the article Teachable Moments with Coworkers, CLICK HERE