The beauty of teachable moments

Michelle Ressa-Aventajado

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A parent can take a proactive approach by exposing your children to different cultures, different foods and, during the month of February, differently-abled people

TEACHABLE MOMENTS ARE SPECIAL. The writer stares lovingly into the eyes of her daughter, Gellibean. Photo by Zoe Tan

MANILA, Philippines – Many years ago, when I was attending college to become an elementary school teacher, my favorite professor was Dr. Mary Lee Martens.

She was not only my professor in “Teaching Science to Elementary School Children,” she was also my advisor. She wrote me a stellar recommendation for my portfolio and, in fact, helped me put said portfolio together so that it would accompany me on interviews later on in my career.

I was fond of her not just because she nurtured me and helped me grow into the teacher I knew I wanted to be, but because she taught me one of the most important principles I would need to know in the classroom AND as a parent.

As defined by Wikipedia, a teachable moment in education is the time at which learning a particular topic or idea becomes possible or easiest.

In the classroom, the moment arises when the “light bulb” goes on for a child. Whether a student is suddenly inspired or her curiosity is sparked by her facilitator, it is important to take advantage of the student’s desire for knowledge by making the most of the teachable moment.

Using manipulatives or conducting on-the-spot experiments will certainly ensure that the student’s quest for answers can be fulfilled in a productive hands-on approach.

In parenting, a teachable moment presents itself when your child shows that same interest or curiosity in a topic at home. That curiosity can arise from a conversation, from reading a book, or from something that they may have seen on TV.

To teach your child to accept people without prejudice, the moment may occur when your son asks about the boy in the elevator who looks just a little different than himself. Or better yet, a parent can take a proactive approach by exposing your children to different cultures, different foods and, during the month of February, differently-abled people.

February is Down Syndrome Consciousness Month. The Down Syndrome Association of the Philippines Inc (DSAPI) will be celebrating BIG this year, for it was 21 years ago when founders Gerry and Baebie Walmsley and Tony and Dottie Pasia met because of the birth of their children Christopher and Vickylou.

The number 21 is significant because Down Syndrome is a genetic condition where a person has 3 copies of the 21st chromosome instead of two. 

Through the Walmsleys’ and the Pasias’ struggle to understand Down Syndrome and raise their children in a time and place where not much information was available came the birth of DSAPI. Together with other parents and devoted doctors who would later sit on the board, when they incorporated in 1992, they began offering assistance, information, and support to other parents who also found themselves with the gift of a baby who happened to have an extra chromosome.

DSAPI will be hosting the Happy Walk this year on Sunday, February 24 at the Skydome in SM North Edsa. Activities will kick off at 8am with registration and will continue throughout the day. The theme for this year’s festivities is “Count Down 3-2-1.”

Down Syndrome is also known as Trisomy 21.

[Mother’s Day] Gifted with an angel

As a parent of a child with Down Syndrome, I want you to COUNT DOWN 3-2-1 with me!

This is not just because I love someone who has Down Syndrome very much. I want you to COUNT DOWN 3-2-1 because this can be one of those teachable moments that my professor taught me about.

Rather than waiting for that moment in the elevator where your child notices something just a little different and asks you questions after, take the opportunity to support Down Syndrome Awareness and walk with us.

I will walk happily with Gelli, our family, and DSAPI on Sunday at the SM North EDSA Skydome. Join us. You might even learn something new, too. –

(For more information on DSAPI, visit their website or Facebook page. For more information on the Count Down 3-2-1 event, click here.)

(Michelle Aventajado is a Filipina American who grew up in NY and now makes Manila her home. When she’s not busy raising her 4 children, she enjoys teaching, reading, and writing about her passions. Follow her blog Momma ‘N Manila as she documents her adventures and growth in parenting.)


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