Intentional Teaching, Impromptu Moments



The unplanned happenstance occurs daily, if not hourly! Questions appear as a child comes across real-world learning situations.  Why let a good lesson drift by? Instead, capitalize on solving problems and impart, in context, impressionable wisdom.  Parents may offer impromptu lessons on life skills, the art of friendship, or delving into educational themes, such as reading, mathematics, history, or science.  It doesn’t take props or money, just a willingness to stop, listen, and allow a lesson to occur naturally! 

Redirect Impulsive Energy 

It happens.  Preschool-aged children will pick up an object in anger and toss it across the room.  The intentional moment helps redirect frustration into a fun game.  Cathy writes, “My teachable moment happened when my two-year-old kept throwing toys.  I channeled that energy into a learning experience. I handed him bean bags with numbers and letters on them. I asked him to identify the symbols before tossing them into a bucket. They were learning their alphabets and numbers and having loads of fun in the processes.”

“It Doesn’t Work?” 

“A three-year-old child using crayons to draw a picture didn’t understand she couldn’t apply white on white paper,” writes J. Williams.  “That moment became teachable. First, I explained that the white crayon could not show up. The child asked a few moments later, ‘I don’t understand.’ I then shared that maybe we could try an experiment, which caught the attention of other peers. In displaying different [other] colors of construction paper, she then used the white crayon to write on each paper.  In excitement, she said, ‘It does work.’ That one activity opened the door for new questions and learning.’” 

Talk About the Weather 

It may begin with just one question, “What do you see outside your window?”  The answer could be moisture on the windows, rain, fog, or sun.  Every slight change in the temperature or noticeable weather condition offers you the chance to provide some information.  The drive to school is a fabulous time to engage in a learning conversation. Just by bringing attention to the outside, your child will be more aware of the exterior world! 

Reading Builds a Baseline

No need to worry about an Internet connection; books provide infinite lessons just by opening the cover.  Parents don’t need to worry if they don’t always have the correct answer.  In the pages of fiction and non-fiction books, children and adults can problem solve, meander through ideas, and open additional titles in the search.  

Another viable option is to start listening to a child-theme audiobook together.  The curious child is bound to ask about terms, vocabulary, and themes surrounding plans, escapes, and values, such as loyalty, trust, and the greater good!  Consider adding a broad range of reading titles that can broaden your child’s worldview while helping them grow! 

Explore Outdoors 

Parents tell children to play outside every day.  While there are distinct benefits from individual exploration in thinking through problems and finding solutions, parents, too, can take the initiative and join their child for a walk, hike, or nature-based activity.  Talk about the leaves, types of trees, the benefit of insects, the impact of erosion, or why moss grows on rocks.  Every step forward provides new insight into our world.  

Field Trips 

Leaving familiar roads and entering a new county or state offers a lesson in history about time, events, and people.  Take the time to read plaques, enter parks, and walk down Main Street.  Every town has a unique flair that may include a piece of history.   Stop by museums and talk to the locals about their favorite historical sites! 

“A teachable moment can be planned or unplanned,” writes Annette Johnson.   It is taking advantage of an opportunity to teach a child something.  As they look for guidance, an adult can make the moment count.” The intentional moment is not just for preschool-aged children; the elementary child still requires direction and lessons about their surroundings.  Indirectly, by being together with parents, grandparents, or family friends, the curiosities of life will always open the door to new information! 


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