July 31, 2013

Teachable Moments: Don't Pee in the Pool!

Teachable moments.  You know the kind.  You're having a conversation with your kids, or watching them play, or observing them interacting with other people, or any number of other scenarios, when out of the blue they do or say something that catches you off guard, and you think, "Did my child really just say/do that?"  or, "Where in the world did my child learn that?"  or, "Oh my gosh!  What did my child just say/do?"

We could freak out.  We could holler at our child, pull them aside, and admonish them for the outrageous thing we just witnessed.  Put them in time out.  Ground them.  And walk away dazed and confused at how our little angel could possibly have been capable of such words or actions.

It happened to me yesterday.

I work part-time in the afternoons.  My husband works full-time.  To save money, rather than paying a babysitter or day care, my in-laws take care of my boys while my husband and I are at work.  It's a good deal.  Frequently, my father-in-law takes his grandsons to the YMCA to spend the afternoon swimming at the rec center pool.  They love it!  And they get to spend some time with their grampa that does not include fast food or parking their behinds in front of the television.

Yesterday was one of their "Y" days.

As I was baking some delicious cinnamon sugar donut muffins last night, my youngest stood beside me waiting to lick the batter off the spoon.  We chatted about his day.  Our conversation led to their time at the "Y".  My boy confessed to me that he pees in the pool.  All the time.  But it wasn't the kind of confession that is an admission of guilt.  It was the kind of confession that is matter-of-fact, and "Oh yeah, by the way...", as if it were perfectly normal.

And I thought, "Did my child really just say that?"

I nearly hollered at him.  Okay, maybe I did holler just a little.  But not in anger.  More in shock and disbelief.  And I said, "What?!  That's so gross!  Why do you pee in the pool?"

He responded, "What?  It just stays around me."

Forehead slap.  Shake my head.  "Doh!"

Teachable moment!

I called my boy into the kitchen, and pulled out some blue food coloring and a cup of water. I poured a puddle of water onto the kitchen counter.  "Noah, this is a swimming pool."  Noah interrupted, "And the food coloring is the pee?"  "Yes, Noah."  I let a single drop of blue food coloring fall into the center of the water puddle.  "Now, watch what happens." 

We watched the blue, slowly but surely spreading out throughout the puddle of water.

"Noah, do you think you should be peeing in the pool?"

He hung his head, clearly realizing that peeing in the pool is not a good thing.  I didn't even need to move on to step 2, which would be swirling the food coloring around to represent people swimming in the pool.  Noah got the idea.

I don't know if this little life lesson will keep Noah from peeing in swimming pools from now on, but I do know that he learned an important lesson.

This is one of the things I love about home schooling.  Learning isn't dependent on classrooms and books.  Learning can happen daily, through numerous teachable moments.  You just have to recognize them when they arise and grab onto them.

Here's a short video of our "Don't Pee in the Pool" teachable moment:  Step 1 - make a puddle of water to represent the swimming pool.  Step 2 - Squeeze a single drop of food coloring into the center of the puddle to represent the pee.  Step 3 - Use a toothpick to swirl the food coloring around in the puddle to represent people swimming in the pool.

Have you experienced any funny teachable moments?  Tell me about them!

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