As described by elementary education expert Beth Lewis, a teachable moment is an unplanned opportunity that arises, where a teacher or therapist has an ideal chance to offer valuable insight to their students. Attuned, intentional teachers capture these moments and use them to their advantage, making every one of them count. You can be an intentional therapist by understanding teachable moments and integrating something from them into your student sessions.

Motivating Students with Teachable Moments

You don’t plan for teachable moments. In fact, the opposite often is true. A student may ask a question or comment on something relevant to their lives or current events, which can be linked to the lesson or skill you’re trying to teach. Capitalize on this window of opportunity, briefly let go of the structure and timing of your prepared session plan, and allow the student initiate the learning. Be the facilitator, as you motivate them and tap into their creativity.

  • An everyday occurrence can become a teachable moment. For example, if a student spills their drink, turn it into an opportunity to work on holding a cup with two hands or setting it down properly.
  • Taking these tangents is worthwhile. They are organically timed for maximum impact on students’ learning capabilities, and they can evolve into full-blown lesson plans or units. By helping students to link their current activities and interests into your current school content, you cultivate engaged, passionate learners.

Here are some additional tips to spot teachable moments and make them work for you:

  • Take it one step at a time. You don’t have to find teachable moments for all your content. But be alert for them and use them where they make sense. Start small – and think big!
  • Tap into your students’ interests. You’ll be more likely to get them to focus on and learn new concepts. They’ll participate more and better retain what they learn. Can you link their therapy to any of their personal hobbies or interests? Even a favorite story or song lyric can inspire a teachable moment.
  • Incorporate real-life experiences. Avoid too much busy work associated with long assignments and boring worksheets. Provide opportunities for open discussion and questions that help your students to develop new ways of thinking and approaching their therapy. In essence, you are creating – or at least, planting the seeds for – teachable moments.

For additional tips and resources to build your school-based practice, read our related posts or contact the specialized team at Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services today.


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