What Did You Teach Your Child Today?

Do you wonder if you are teaching your child enough amidst the daily 'busyness' of life? Well, don't worry. Here's how you can incorporate 'teachable moments' in your everyday tasks and routine.

By Chitra Ravi

What Did You Teach Your Child Today?
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn." - Xun Kuang, Confucian philosopher 

When you are a parent of a school-going child, every day seems like a race against time. It’s a mad mad rush right? Sometimes you are facing the most creative excuses to skip school with just 15 minutes left for the school bus to arrive. Other times, it is late evening and you are trying to squeeze in 10 different homework assignments into one hour. By the time you get to the ‘good night’ kiss, you wonder ‘where did the day go?’ or 'how did time fly?'

More than that, you end up feeling that you were monotonously ticking off items on a to-do list, instead of actually spending quality time with your child and being in the moment. You wonder if she is grasping and learning correctly from what you teach during study time every evening. You might even have some lingering thoughts like: ‘did I handle the lessons well?’, 'did she understand what she did in her workbook?', ‘am I doing enough?’, 'am I teaching things right?' And there starts your guilt trip. 

I’ve been there, done that. I often feel totally clueless as to how I would fit so many different activities with my children within 24 hours every day. How am I going to find those ‘teachable moments’ with my children? It turns out that you cannot find these moments, because every moment you spend with your child has the potential to become a teachable moment.

During my early years as an entrepreneur, every day was a challenge. My kids and company were both in their formative years. And we all know how critical the formative period is. Both demanded my undivided attention and care. While work required me to travel extensively, my children needed a stability that comes from my regular consistent presence at home. My work and home life couldn't have been more at odds. That's when I realised I cannot strive for a work life balance at all times. At any point in time, one takes priority over the other and I needed to accept this.

One of my saviours came in my decision to fit 'teachable moments' in my everyday tasks with my children. From making dosas in the kitchen to our commute to school, my mantra was to live in the moment and make the most of it. So, how did I know I got it right? I know this because all those years ago, my 10-year-old told me, ‘Amma, all other moms make food for the tummy, but you give me food for thought as well’. That was my reward for making the most of my moments with my children.

Here are some examples of how I create teaching moments for my children. And while they might seem small or insignificant, they can create a lasting impact on your child. And not to mention the sheer joy of doing something together with your child.

Math in the market

From a visit to the supermarket or the local vegetable vendor, there is a lot hidden in the ½ kg toor dal packet, the egg carton box, and in the rusty weighing balance at Ramu’s vegetable shop. Math lessons need not always be done with a pencil and a notebook or as is the trend these days, through animated videos. You can help your child dabble in math to figure out the total money to be paid, the change to be returned and if you are lucky, the amount of discount available.

Science in the kitchen

With your everyday pressure cooker to your microwave oven, your kitchen is equipped to be a mini science laboratory. Quite literally. Just bring your child along with you to the kitchen when you cook. You could show your child how long it takes for water to boil or how different spices come together to make distinct flavours. Science lesson done for the day!

Social debates in the living room

Which is the most played channel on your TV? POGO? Nickelodeon? Disney? Chutti TV? Why not have your child beside you to watch the news instead? You could talk about history from coverage on India and Pakistan’s relations, or geography of South India while discussing the current water shortage. Any news story can be turned into a teachable moment.

Language lessons, anywhere, anytime

Think back to the time when your child was a toddler. How did your child learn to talk in her mother tongue? Did you start with the alphabet and then move on to words and sentences? Or did you start with words like ‘maa’, ‘paa’, ‘daadi’, ‘kakaa’, ‘spoon’ and moved on to conversations from this assortment of everyday words?

Ever wondered why we are most comfortable speaking and thinking in our mother tongue? Research says that language is learned and remembered much better when it is acquired in a conversational method rather than formally taught in a classroom.

So, when it comes to learning a language, you can create a teachable moment at any time. It could be a hoarding on the way home, an advertisement on TV, a newspaper headline or even chocolate wrappers. Opportunities are aplenty; you just have to grab them. As Yawar Baig says: 

“Teaching is not about answering questions but about raising questions – opening doors for them in places that they could not imagine.”

There's nothing new in the above ideas. These are just some examples to inspire some thoughts about how you can create teachable moments in your daily life. With an open mind and a creative eye, evenings need not be a battle ground to win the study time war. Not because focused study time is not important, but because the focused time itself becomes a lot more enjoyable and easy, when the rest of the day is filled with these little ‘teachable moments’.

Here is to some happy 'teaching and learning' times ahead for you and your child!

About the expert:

Written by Chitra Ravi on 7 August 2019.

Ms Chitra Ravi is an educational visionary who has spent the last two decades crusading against mediocre practices in the educational ecosystem. In 2001, she founded Chrysalis, a state-of-the-art educational research and innovation organisation with a vision to awaken the extraordinary Human Potential in every child.

Also read: Questions To Ask Your Child About School

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