As I’ve mentioned before, my daughters love to help around the house. Today, Delaney found more marks on the wall (see “The Writing on the Wall”), and she wanted to help clean it up. We talked about cleaning supplies and what we would need to get the marks off the wall. Some items that we discussed were broom, wipes, dustpan, duster, and rag. While watching this video, see if you can tell which words she was familiar with and which ones had just been introduced.
How to Make it a Teachable Moment
Use familiar and unfamiliar words – If you always use words your child already knows, you are not helping to grow their vocabulary. If you only use new words that your child doesn’t know, he/she will probably get frustrated. Think like Goldilocks…find a balance that’s “just right.”
Use yes/no questions sparingly – By avoiding yes/no questions, you can allow the conversation to continue naturally without it sounding like an interrogation. Some of the questions I used were, “Whatcha doing?” “Where’s your broom?”, ” What do you use your broom for?”, “Do you use your broom to clean the wall or the floor?”, ” Can you show me how to sweep?”, “What’s that on your broom?”, and “Is it called a duster or a broom?”
Avoid “all or nothing” answers – When you ask a question and your child doesn’t know the answer, don’t just tell them the answer. Give him/her choices or some clues to help figure it out. This is called scaffolding , and it helps children develop problem-solving and self-help skills. Examples that I used were, “Do you use your broom to clean the wall or the floor?” and “Is it called a duster or a dustpan?”
Don’t be afraid to pause and wait – When I was trying to get Delaney to tell me she had a dustpan, you’ll notice that I asked the question and then paused. This is called a “pregnant pause”, and it means that you are giving an elongated pause while waiting for an answer.
Complete the current task – As we know, children have short attention spans, but it is beneficial to bring closure to your current task before they run off. I’m not saying that you need to complete the big task (in my video example, that would be cleaning everything). Rather, have them finish whatever you are discussing. For example, Delaney was having difficulty coming up with the word “dustpan” so she tried to run off and avoid it. Luckily I was able to help her refocus and finish the task by giving her choices (scaffolding).
How do you incorporate learning while cleaning up with your children? Did you see any opportunities that I missed?