Teachable Moments

Our toddlers are learning all about animal habitat – land vs. sea.

In educating children, we often talk about teachable moments – those unexpected, unplanned opportunities to teach kids an invaluable lesson. They don’t always come at a convenient time, and typically, they come whether you want them to or not. So it isn’t always easy to capitalize on those moments – but they can serve to teach children both spiritual and practical truths in a meaningful context and in a way they can’t be taught through a class or activity.

Two such moments happened last week.

Heading out to drop off the kinders one morning, a neighbor boy called out to Alexis as we made our way to the car. “Alexis! Are you going to kindergarten? HOW EMBARRASSING!”

Alexis learns just how far it is from Vancouver, Canada to Mazatlan, Mexico – thanks to an incredible letter and map from one of his sponsors!

I was so proud of Alexis in that moment. He didn’t respond, but held his head high and continued walking toward the car.

As we drove off, I debated whether to address the little exchange. We only had a few minutes before everybody would be dropped off at school and the rude comment would be forgotten by all. By all – except Alexis.

Alexis is a bright kid. He picks up on subtle cues, remembers offhand remarks and processes them internally. I knew immediately, that despite his unaffected air, his friend’s words would stick with him.

Preschoolers paint a mango tree.
Preschoolers paint a mango tree.

So for the 3 minute drive to kinder, I encouraged the three of them to express their feelings about the ridicule, their opinions on their education, and why they thought their peer had reacted so rudely to seeing them head to school.

I quickly realized I didn’t have to explain much at all. The kids understood the situation – and the simple act of talking it out together left each of them feeling united, encouraged and eager to get to class.

Just two days earlier that same group watched on as two men were arrested right in front of Roots & Wings. The sight ignited another quick conversation about respecting authority and the consequences of breaking the law. Heavy subjects to be talking over with kindergartners.

But necessary? Absolutely.


Sometimes our instinct is to shelter our children from the harshness of the world. And yet we know that in their home environment, they witness the unthinkable. They are acutely aware of life’s ugliest problems. And in many cases, they are encouraged to embrace that lifestyle and those choices as their own.

We can’t shirk away from addressing these issues. We must use every available moment as an opportunity to teach. Even when it isn’t convenient. Even when the subject is complex.

The kids watch on as Justin teaches them how to shell a cocount!

It is also a reminder that our examples are our biggest tool. When we live, act and respond like Christ, our character showcases what it means to live under the the transforming love of Jesus.

Please pray that we can be sensitive to these special opportunities to teach and and use every moment to show them how much Jesus loves them and how they can follow Him with their whole heart.