I don't sit down with the boys and actually "teach" them. At these ages there is so much to explore and observe around them that I don't feel the need to actually "teach" them. But I do take advantage of most teachable moments. I try to make these moments as natural as possible. Just allowing the teaching to flow into the conversation so they (especially Evan) won't stop what they're doing but continue and hopefully learn something out of it. I have become a master at disguising learning because Evan is going through a stage right now that if he knows that I am trying to teach him something, he will automatically start being goofy and I will loose that teaching moment. Here are a few examples of what I am talking about.
- When going on walks, we talk about what we hear and smell. What we touch and feel. This is a great opportunity to use as many adjectives as you can think of. Allow them to explain to you what they see. As they mature their explanations will get more in depth based on how much you can explain to them. If they notice a new flower, they might say, "Look there is a flower." You could agree with them and move on, which sometimes is much easier to a brain-fried mom, but use this opportunity to smell the flower, discuss the color of the flower, the shape of the flower and have them touch the flower and use adjectives to explain these characteristics.
- Point out geometric shapes. As I have posted before, we go on shape walks and take pictures of different shapes we see around us. But even when we go on regular walks, I always try to point out a few shapes. Such as, Carter likes to fine the sewer access holes and stand on them. I point out to him that he is standing on a circle. He has picked up on the game pretty quickly and now can point out any circle that he sees. He is becoming more and more observant, sometimes seeing things that I don't see. He knows the names of circles and squares but can point out triangles, rectangles and diamonds. Evan, though not as observant by nature, will point out an occasional rectangle or diamond. He likes to point out that the sewers are rectangle. He was playing with a dice the other day and noticed that one side not only was a square but if you tilt it, it becomes a diamond.
- Making eating time, learning time. After Carter was sick, the only thing he would eat for a few days were Fruit Loops - don't judge :-) - so we would use those fruit loops to make piles of the same colors, we would count them, we would play "let's eat the blue one" game. Who knew Fruit loops could be so educational- ha ha.
- Carter and Evan (Carter more) love finding the moon at night. Evan started noticing that the moon changes over time and asked why. Since I did teach moon phases in 5th grade for many years, it just came naturally to explain to him why. So every night we would go out and check to see if the moon was getting bigger or smaller and we would name what time of moon it was (waxing, waning, gibbous, crescent). Do I expect him to start naming them right away? No. But those names are now logged in that brain of his and when the time comes he will remember it.
- Snack time around our house has become a wonderful teaching time. We play all kinds of games. As an example, Evan has started lining up his snack and playing the "take away" game. Here he is playing what we do. A concrete model is the first step of learning. The next step is to be able to "visualize" what is going on. He did this today. Carter had two crackers left and he said, "Hey Carter, you have 2 and when you eat one you will have one left and then if you eat the last one you will have none left." So he was able to visualize what we had been practicing with the concrete manipulative.
Kids will learn the most during these teachable moments. Because they are already engaged and interested in the subject. So use this time to just plant little seeds of learning in them. They don't even need to know that you are teaching them.
It's your turn. What teachable moments have you taken advantage of recently?