When intentional teaching leads to accidental learning

Our house has always involved regular story time and lots of incidental teaching when the situation presented itself.

Now that we have embarked on a school at home journey, teaching has become much more intentional.

This is not to say that teaching happens at designated times. Rather, we have been seizing moments of downtime or promoting them by offering learning activities in an engaging context.

For example, to practice math, the four of us sat down at the kitchen table together. In a telling example of our teaching/personality styles, my husband got out the abacus and post with rings, and I brought the work book and picture cards.

Also known as flash cards, I avoid referring to them as this because I don’t believe they should be used to put a child on the spot. Instead, I aim to incorporate them into an interactive activity or allow my daughter to use them to do her own self teaching.

While sister and daddy practiced counting with their manipulatives, brother was eager to get his hands on the picture cards having seen sissy using them before.

I gave him a few cards to work with and watched as he laid them out before “counting” the cards and the objects on them.

Ever since we started working with his sister, little brother has wanted to be right in the action. I initially tried giving him an alternate activity, but more often than not, he wants the same materials that big sister’s got, whether books, paper and pen, or picture cards.

The other accidental learning that has occurred has been on my husband and I’s part.

Teaching in a more intentional way has led us to learn a few things, among them, how to be:

Patient, when learning isn’t happening at the pace we’d envisioned.
Flexible, when learning isn’t happening at the time or space we’d envisioned.
Creative, when wanting to teach a new concept or finding we need to teach it another way.
Present, when other distractors attempt to get in the way of teaching/learning.

Being present especially resonates with me after an assigned reading (for my post graduate course) on Mindful Parenting.

This strategy promotes being present during child led activities. I think we owe it to our kids to be present whether the activity is child or adult led, play based or routine.

If we aren’t, we may miss an opportunity to teach our children or learn something ourselves.

Besides, being present isn’t really all that hard when your subject looks like this…


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