One of the joys of homeschooling is the opportunity to find and utilize those teachable moments that pop up through the day. In a regular classroom environment, teachers may not be able to follow the rabbit trails that emerge as students ask unrelated questions. Educators—teachers and parents—love the moments when children show interest in topics, but in a classroom there is a curriculum to cover.
In homeschool, parents decide what curriculum is used and how much needs to be covered. There is no time limit on topics and discussions. Homeschool parents organize the school year and lesson plans so we can celebrate those teachable moments.
Let’s look at several examples of homeschool lessons and how we can embrace those teachable moments. They can lead to deeper learning, more fun, and wonderful memories.
The most recent experience in our own homeschool relates to a simple lesson about air involving paper airplanes. In the first experiment, we were looking at how our paper airplane would glide and float through the air. The first one required us to throw it gently. In the second experiment, we examined the different shapes of wings. This second paper airplane was designed so that it would fly faster and farther than our gliding airplane.
While we had fun trying out the two different paper airplanes from our kit, it didn’t take long before our children were asking about other things outside. We had recently pruned back some trees and cleaned up pine needles so our children wanted to talk about the differences they saw. The earthworms that had been on the patio under the pine needles were gone. Where did they go? The day lilies that had been hiding under a small tree were now blooming. Why was that?
So many great questions emerged from just a short trip outside. And since we didn’t have to rush to the next objective or lesson, we could linger and talk about these natural changes in the environment.
In our curriculum, our children are memorizing Bible verses. The verses we are memorizing show Jesus as the Light of the World, the Rock, the Bread of Life, and now the Vine. The verse for the current week is, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, ESV).
Before introducing the verse, we talked about how gardeners take care of grapes. This led to a wonderful teachable moment about grapes, gardening, vines, and more in greater detail than the curriculum directed. Being homeschooled means we were able to use that teachable moment—our children’s desire to learn more about growing grapes—and allow their interest to lead our lessons.
Toys and Music
Music is also included in our curriculum. We spend about four weeks listening to and learning a new song. We’ve had many teachable moments when learning songs, including “America the Beautiful,” “America,” “Yankee Doodle,” and “God Bless America.” From discussing vocabulary in the songs to researching why the songs were written and what they represent, we explored the topics that interested our children.
We have also been able to creatively include our music in everyday activities. From listening to the music while practicing penmanship to playing it while cleaning up toys, homeschooling means we can be creative when and where we teach our lessons. And don’t forget all the teachable moments that come about during toy clean up! Organization, cooperation, sharing of memories, and learning skills needed in life—toy clean up isn’t just about putting away toys and straightening up the room.
Your Teachable Moments
Where do you find your teachable moments? Are they when you are on scheduled field trips to museums or zoos? Perhaps a trip to the grocery store provides teachable moments when you ask your children to calculate which product is more economical. Please share in the comments the teachable moments that have occurred in your homeschool.
This article has been written by Kristen Heider. She is the Business Building Team Manager of The Old Schoolhouse® and the Social Media Manager of HomeschoolingFinds.com. She shares more about her family’s homeschooling journey at A Mom’s Quest Teach.