From the moment we bring a child into the world, we want to be able to guide them to learn and grow as they delight in joy and wonder at the world around them.
And as they grow, we want them to become excited by the possibilities of what they can learn, discover and do.
Bonnie Te Ara Henare, Director and teacher at KU Phillip Park, a childcare centre that is part of the not-for-profit KU Children’s Services in Sydney, believes there’s something magical about the moment a child learns something new.
It’s called a ‘teachable moment’, which Bonnie describes as “a serendipitous moment; unplanned and unexpected”.
“There are countless teachable moments every day and these represent significant moments in a child’s life to deepen their curiosity and understanding of the world around them,” Bonnie tells Mamamia.
Pre-school director Bonnie Te Ara Henare from KU Phillip Park. Image: Supplied.
For children, teachable moments are important because they affirm and validate children's natural curiosity or wondering about the world and the meaning that they create from it.
The early years before children start school are a time for children to explore their natural curiosity, and to learn through play in a safe environment. A pre-school will tap into this inquisitive nature of children, providing opportunities for them to ask big questions in order to make sense of the world.
At KU childcare centres and preschools, the focus for the educators and teachers is on creating 'teachable moments' to encourage the children to think deeply about the world around them and then discuss these elements from different perspectives.
These normally come in the form of an open question from a child that might relate to concepts such as birth, death, diversity, and change.
An example shared by Bonnie explains the idea. A child might ask, "What happened to the butterfly? The butterfly is not moving" if they encounter a butterfly in the playground.
The teacher can then use this opportunity to discuss what the child thinks may have happened, and the idea of living things being impermanent.
"Often we find the teachable moments are linked to the cycle of life and nature," Bonnie explains. "There is a deep wondering and awe. It’s really relational, where they’re trying to piece together how the world works."