Family Literacy is about Teachable Moments

An interesting article in Globe and Mail titled Parents Want More Time to Teach Kids – But Miss Teachable Moments drew my attention.

The article presents the finding of the survey conducted on behalf of ABC Life Literacy Canada that asked parents about their role in their child’s education. The results are very interesting:

  • 70 % of parents also said that they are their child’s best teachers
  • 63 % of parents disagreed with the statement that “the primary place for a child to learn is at school, not home.”

I found these percentages exciting; they speak volumes about the fact that parents are strongly aware of the value and importance of family literacy.

My enthusiasm diminished rather quickly as I read the following numbers:

  • Only 14 % of parents said they always use paying their bills as a learning opportunity
  • Only 19 % of parents identified sorting and matching laundry as a learning opportunity
  • Only 27 % of parents use baking and cooking and cooking as a teaching tool

What story are these numbers telling us?

Parents know that they matter and that activities such as reading, helping with homework, writing stories at home are important for children’s success at school. However, it seems that we have many parents who are not aware of the importance and value of teachable moments that occur spontaneously, unexpectedly and often with a simple question on the part of the child such as:

  • How do birds fly?
  • How does ice melt?
  • Why do we have to sleep?

Articles, tip sheets, tool kits, webinars are just a few among the multitude of tools available for parents to help them learn about their role in supporting their children’s learning. I cannot help but wonder if sometimes, our commonly used tools fall short of communicating “the magic of teachable moments?

A few days ago, I had coffee with my recently retired friend. She is now spending a lot of time with her granddaughter. Her ‘grannie insights” combined with her knowledge as a former teacher, Principal and early literacy specialist, always give me a lot of food for thought!   On this particular occasion, the conversation with Grannie D. made me think – teachable moments are best captured through stories! Story-telling in oral or written form can the THE tool that will help parents take advantage of everyday learning opportunities.

So let’s share some teachable moment stories in this blog…

Learning with Grannie D.

We were walking by a construction site today, and Jenna, who is 6, read me this sign: “NO BOOTS, NO HARD HAT, NO ORIENTATION, NO WORK”.

“Hmmm”, I said to her, “who could not read this sign other than a kid or a grown-up who couldn’t read?”

Jenna thought for a bit and thought about a blind person.

Well, that set us off on a day of adventure…how would they know not to cross the yellow line at the LRT station? How could they know when their train stop came?  How could they find food in their fridge?

We spent the rest of the day doing two things:

  • Finding environmental clues that blind people could use AND
  •  Pretending being blind at home with a blindfold trying to locate a can of Coke in various places.

Eventually, we went to the Internet to find out about Braille…and we made some Braille signs. Did you know that the handrails at the new Sunalta train station have clues on them to tell you when you are approaching the bottom step?

Jenna unexpectedly slept over at my house last night, so I had to wash her clothes.  Her underpants (purple with orange and green polka dots) were nowhere to be found last night.

Hmmmmm – a mystery!

After much discussion we determined that a hippopotamus had snuck into Grannie and Papa’s bedroom and mistaken them for a hat for its baby… its ears fitting perfectly through the leg holes.

All this wasn’t exactly on Grannie’s agenda today but we both learned a lot!

Globe and Mail Article:—but-miss-teachable-moments/article620587/

Originally posted on: Feb 21, 2013.