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Teaching Moments:
The Benefits of Reading
to Young Children

Some of the benefits of reading to young children include something called "teaching moments."  But before we can examine this benefit, we have to understand what a teaching moment is.

As I was completing my master's degree in math education, I remember a professor telling us . . . the upcoming teachers . . . about the need to recognize and then take full advantage of "teaching moments." This professor explained that a teaching moment was an unexpected and unplanned opportunity, during a planned lecture or lesson plan, to really connect and teach your students.

space shuttle clip art I can illustrate this further as follows. When I was student teaching, John Glenn took his remarkable journey back into space aboard the space shuttle. My calculus class begged and pleaded with me to take them to the library so they could watch the space shuttle land. I really wasn't interested in doing this as I had "course material to cover"; however, I finally relented and we watched this history making landing.

When we returned to class, the students and I talked about what we saw . . . and a "teaching moment" unfolded. I took advantage of the students' interest and we discussed how important mathematics was to this flight.The students were captivated and I made more of an impression to them about how mathematics applies to the "real world" and how it could lead to interesting careers and experiences, all because of an opportunity that was beyond my control -- a "teaching moment." Reading together with your child also provides ample opportunities for "teaching moments" -- the unexpected benefits of reading to young children.

book clip art The benefits of reading to young children also provide ample opportunities for teaching moments as well. A favorite book of my older son is called You Will Go to the Moon by Mae and Ira Freeman. Now this book was written in 1959 and is very outdated regarding space travel as we haven't been to the moon yet. But Eric LOVES this book and I find myself reading it more often than I really care to.........BUT..........it is a perfect opportunity for a "teaching moment" -- the unexpected benefits of reading to young children -- because we start talking about space and astronauts and the space program and how this book was written before we had ever gone to the moon. Eric's attention is totally captivated and he can't get enough of it. I can provide more information to Eric about space in the times we read this book than if we were to just sit down and start talking about space.

You might be very surprised in the book selection that your child chooses, but take advantage of every single book that he wants you to read to him. There are great opportunities to experience the benefits of reading to young children in EVERY book - opportunities to connect...to explore...convey information...to ask questions...to bond...and to just talk and have fun.

"The best helping hand that you
will ever receive is the one at
the end of YOUR OWN ARM."
--Fred Dehner

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