I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again (and again). To me, teaching a love of learning is one of the most important things you can do for a child. So I try to “teach in the moment.” I just made up that phrase. Five minutes ago. “Teaching in the moment” means that I don’t necessarily plan out a specific lesson to teach to a child at a specific time. I look for opportunities all day in natural conversation. I follow the child’s lead, continuing to teach if he/she continues to show interest, and stopping if they lose interest. I look to engage their natural curiosity and give them a good learning experience. And the child and I have fun!
Yesterday the almost 4yo girl I work with said something silly like, “That’s crazy like coconuts!” And that spurred a whole long lesson about where our food comes from!
Me: “Coconuts are pretty crazy! Do you know how coconuts grow?”
Me: “You’re right! But what kind of tree? Do you think it looks like the trees in your yard?”
Me: “Actually, coconut trees look a lot different from our trees around here. They’re called palm trees. Do you know what those look like?”
Her: “Like pom poms?”
Me: “Not exactly… Do you want me to show you one?” (I found some pictures via a quick Google image search- thanks Google!)
Her: “I know those! I saw them at the beach!” (Her family spends a week at the beach each summer.)
Me: “I bet you did! Some palm trees grow coconuts, some grow other fruits, some grow nothing. Neat, right?”
Me: “What about apples? How do they grow?”
Her: “They grow on trees! I picked some with my mommy and daddy and we got to buy them and eat them!”
Me: “Exactly! What about blueberries? How do they grow?”
…and so on and so forth. We discussed things that grow on bushes (“I have bushes in my yard! But not blueberry ones.”), trees, vines, small plants, in the ground (“But then you can’t see them! That’s no fair!”)… We just kept going! It was a lot of fun to see hear her guesses and see her reactions to things. She was so curious and excited! Those are the moments that make being a nanny wonderful.