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The Mobile Classroom

by Ronald A. Rowe | July 31st, 2013 | Elementary, School

kids in covertibleWhere does your child go to school? Wherever the physical Elementary School may be, that isn’t a complete answer. At least, it isn’t the complete answer to where your child is getting his or her education.

We recently went on a drive from Florida to Pennsylvania, back again, and then drove from Florida to Texas. That’s a lot of time in a short period to spend in a car with a rambunctious seven-year-old. Yet it really highlighted for me the fact that elementary age children are still in that sponge-like phase where they absorb so much more than would seem possible.

So much of what we take for granted – the names of states, animals, geography, climate, and more — are completely new. Any adult conversation, even those that appear mundane on the surface — can trigger a spontaneous teaching moment when the kids are listening. They never stop learning if you don’t stop teaching.

Armed with a renewed awareness of this, I have noticed in the days since the conclusion of our cross-country travels that teaching opportunities abound wherever we go. The grocery store is filled with concepts for discussion on such topics as metric/customary conversion, ethnic foods, comparison shopping, and courteous behavior.

The gas station, the library, the discount store, the park, and the gym all likewise provide a natural setting for teaching moments if you are mindful enough to recognize them when they come along and patient enough to see them through. That means no “grown ups are talking” cop outs or “ask me later” tactics. If you are going to fully embrace teachable moments on the go, you have to make a conscious commitment to take them as they come and make the most of them.

My wife recently discovered the lessons that can be taught — and learned — by venturing out in a new city without the handy dandy GPS navigator. As she circled the 289 beltway, a dozen miles off course, with two children in the car she defused the tension (mostly on her own part) that the situation caused by seizing the opportunity to teach as she learned the new surroundings. Plus all involved learned the valuable lesson to always remember the GPS when venturing into new territory.

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