I wanted to share with you something Lisa Murphy, one of my favorite early childhood speakers, put on her blog in November. Go read it and then come back. I'll wait for you. What did you think?
What I think is that it's a nice reminder that every moment in a kid's life is a teachable moment, it's just that we don't always need to be the ones doing the teaching. What is means is that when a kid finishes something at the easel we DON'T always have to comment on the colors or the choice of brush size. We can simply smile and enjoy it. It DOES mean we can keep our mouths shut when a child is absorbed in what he or she is doing, clear in the knowledge that they are doing their own teaching in their own moment. All we can do is ruin it and take out the wonder of it when we try to turn it into an official teachable moment.
As teachers of young children it is our job to create an environment that lends itself to teachable moments. We set up the classroom to learn about colors, smells, textures, and many other things simply so that we get the opportunity to use language about whatever topic we're thinking about. Even if we follow the childrens' lead and change what we're doing on the fly to follow their interests, we still feel compelled to prattle on and on while they (the children) are working.
Make a promise to yourself that for each child, at least once each day, you will simply observe. You may get the chance to bring up the experience with that child later and you may not. Enjoy their curiosity and their self absorbed activity. Yes, you will get to talk about color mixing and the alphabet. But not for every minute of every day. There's a time for everything. Let's remember that.