Capturing Teachable Moments . . .

. . . even when they’re not what you were planning on teaching.

I realized this evening I really didn’t do preschool with Noah today, so I pulled out the Kaufmann cards and the iPad and sat Noah down at the kitchen table.  I found a cute little app with simple puzzles that I wanted him to try, and I thought it would be a good motivator for the Kaufmann cards.  The idea was he’d repeat one Kaufmann word three times and then get to click and drag one puzzle piece. 

Actually, it was working great, although for a few words he was so intent on the puzzle that he rushed the word and wasn’t interested in giving it his best effort.  On top of that, let me tell you, adding in a motivator like that means it takes a LOT longer to work through a stack of cards than the old-fashioned, sit and do nothing else  until you are done with this stack.  Although, come to think about it, the old-fashioned, sit and do nothing else until you are done with this stack usually elicits such a negative, whinny, I really don’t want to do this and I’m going to make sure you know it response, it may be that the time difference is really negligible.

The good news was that when helping him with the puzzle app, I got to reinforce the opposite pair “top and bottom” and introduce a new word, “corner.”  Noah is still figuring puzzles like this out, so I had to direct him a lot about where on the screen to drop the pieces.  I had an “aha” moment and realized “top, bottom and corner” were much better language-wise than “there.”  Catch that teachable moment! 

This was such a good reminder to me that when working with a speech-delayed child, if your priority is speech, never be so focused on other goals that you miss an opportunity to introduce new language.  Think “language” every moment, whether you’re trying to elicit speech in that moment or not.  (Whatever you do, don’t try to make your speech-delayed child speak during every teachable moment.  Receptive language, especially for children with Down syndrome and autism is just as important as expressive language, although our children are usually more delayed in expressive language than receptive.)

How about you?  How are you capturing teachable moments, and just what is it that you’re teaching?

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