Find More Teachable Moments With Your Kids

3/29/07 - By Anna Fader

We've been talking about the best schools in NYC on this site all month, but many experts will tell you that what happens at home is much more important than what school a child goes to. You don't have to be a homeschooler to find teachable moments during the course of your regular day. But, where do you begin? How do you know what to do and how? What is appropriate and at what ages? Even though we don't homeschool, I like to read a homeschool curriculum each year. I read the outline of what the course will be focusing on and copy down the reading list. Then I keep those themes in the back of my mind and look for opportunities to work them in to our everyday. I get the books on the reading list from the library and those become our bedtime or anytime books. I find that this helps me feel involved in my children's education and also makes me feel confident that they are on track by my standards, not slipping through the cracks. Up until now I have mostly focused on the social sciences because I think the schools do a good job of teaching reading and math in the early grades. The book that I like to follow is called The Well-Trained Mind and it is based on a Classical Education. Click on the link for an in depth definition of a Classical Education, but it basically means that the early years are spent absorbing the basic facts that every well-educated person should know and only later do students focus on expressing themselves creatively.


This suits my purposes well because with the Progressive Education children mostly receive in New York schools, they have plenty of opportunities to express themselves, but I 'm not completely convinced they are really getting an exceptional exposure to the basics in the social sciences. For instance, The Well-Trained Mind curriculum has students in First Grade reading the Ancients. The book includes a list of books appropriate to first graders about Greek Mythology, Chinese, Native American and other ancient literatures. This isn't about stressing your kids out or over-extending them. Just, instead of reading Clifford one day, read a picture book about Persephone. Kids love these stories, and by the end of the year they can have a nice grasp of the major players in ancient literature. Then the next year we move on the the Renaissance. Once you have this curriculum percolating in the back of your mind you will find many opportunities throughout the year to incorporate activities that support and broaden the experiences. Especially in NYC, you can go look at art of the period, see a puppet show, ballet or children's opera on the same subjects you are reading about. It's fun and just gives you some more activities to do with your kids.