Teachable Moment Goes Up in Flames

So I’m setting up my daughter’s dollhouse with her last night when she holds up a mouse and a bunny. “Which one should be the mommy?” she asks.

“The bunny,” I say.

“But the daddy’s a mouse,” she says.

“That’s okay,” I say. “A bunny can marry a mouse.”

Then the lightbulb: This here is what they call a teachable moment!

“You know, Maxine,” I say, already feeling pretty proud of myself, “you don’t have to look alike to get married. You know how black people marry white people, or tall people marry short people, or skinny people marry big people. People who don’t look the same fall in love all the time.”

She nodded.

This was way more fun to me than the dollhouse thing, so I decided to keep on.

“So you know how I told you that boys sometimes marry boys and girls sometimes marry girls?”

“Yes,” she said.

“Well, some people don’t believe they should.”

She looked up, obviously curious about where this conversation was going.

“Why?” she asked.

“Well, I guess most of it comes down to religious belief…”

It was at this moment that my teachable moment went to hell in a hand basket.

“I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT RELIGIOUS,” she said, cutting me off.

“You don’t want to talk about religion?” I asked.

“NO,” she said, way more adamantly than was necessary.

“Okay,” I said, laughing. “We don’t have to talk about religion. But why?”

“Because,” she explained, “religion is boring.”

Oy vey, kid. Way to cut me where it hurts.

Now, let me say this: Despite my obvious preoccupation with religion, it’s not like I’m shoving this stuff down her throat. I like to think I let her lead our conversations, and I go out of my way to make what I do say fun and interesting. So what gives?

Well, I’m willing to bet you the problem lies nestled in that sentence above.

I like to think I let her lead our conversations, and I go out of my way to make what I do say fun and interesting. 

Do you spot the two problem words? Conversations is one. Say is the other.

Too. Much. Damn. Talking.

Kindergarteners are hands-on learners. They learn through play, not lectures. I know my daughter loves it when we celebrate various religious holidays because it’s just plain fun. It involves songs and food and games, not a bunch of words coming out of my mouth.

Instead of talking about religion, I think I need to be providing my little one with opportunities for educational play. I think, in order to get anything out of my attempts at religious literacy, she needs to be able to use her own mind and imagination.

At WAHM.com, I found this: How to Make Learning Fun for Your Kids. The website suggested including yourself in the fun, playing educational games, integrating competition, using toys and watching educational shows. I think those are some good guidelines to get me started.

I wonder if any of you have struggled with making religious literacy enticing to your kids. I wonder if any of you have engaged your kids successfully and have tips to share. If so, please let me know.

Because obviously I need to step up my game.