Monday, June 8, 2009

Mondays Our Way:I Heart Television

Do you want to know my dirty little unschooling secret? My kids watch TV.

I know.

Call me a black sheep amongst homeschoolers, but our family loves TV-and while TV has been blamed for everything from childhood obesity to poor SAT scores and ADD, I see absolutely nothing wrong with letting our kidlets watch quality educational programming whenever the opportunity arises.

I know it is trendy these days to not own a TV, or to not allow kids to watch, but none of our kids have developed a twitch, and our experience with TV has actually been enriching.

Yesterday, Monkey came up to me and said, "Mommy-let's count these pennies! En español! Ready? Uno, dos, tres, cuatro, cinco, seis, siete, ocho, nueve, diez!" Thank you, Dora The Explorer. Thanks to School House Rock he knows what a noun is, and understands what bones are and what they do. Thanks to an idea he picked up from Little Einstiens he now understands the process of metamorphosis. Go Deigo Go taught him about the diet, habitat, and skills of sloths.

Most recently, Monkey (okay, all of us) has fallen in love with Ni-Hao Kai-Lan...and it is because of this obsession that Monkey is now speaking Mandarin...and quizzing me on it. Regularly.

"Look Mommy! This car is hóng sè (red)...can you say 'hóng sè'? And this car is lu sè(green)...can you say 'lu sè'? Good job Mommy! You can talk like Kai-Lan!"

Besides 'red' and 'green', Monkey has also learned:

Hi-ni hao
See you later-zài jiàn
Thank you-xiè xiè
Grandpa-yé yé
Slippers-tuō xié
Snow- xué
Dinosaur-kǒng lóng
[If you want to hear the pronounciation, I recommend going to this site.]

This is just in the past two months. As if teaching Monkey over a dozen words of a foreign language in two months wasn't enough, Kai-Lan is doing a fantastic job curbing fits. By encouraging kids to explore the feelings of others (How does this person look? What did this person say? How do you think they feel?) and by showing and explaining good behavior (teaching kids to listen with step by step instructions for example) Kai-Lan encourages her friends on the show and in the audience to deal with their emotions in a healthy way rather than in outbursts.

And yes, it totally works.

I never cease to be amazed by all the things that Monkey has learned, including all of the great ideas we have discovered and explored further because of quality TV programming...I just couldn't imagine going without a TV!

Plus, I won't lie-if the kids can learn Mandarin for a half hour while I pick up without them under foot, that's truly a win-win situation!


Lisa said...

We watch a fair amount of tv too. I feel a little sheepish admitting it, but we do. My son has learned all kinds of things fron it. I wouldn't let him watch tv 24/7 for days and days, but I basically don't limit his screen time otherwise.

Jenny said...

We love TV too! Abby has learned all types of things from it. Peep and the Big Wide World is one of her favorites and each show teaches something about science!

I think the key to TV watching is to make sure your kids are watching things that are age appropriate.

My SIL will only let her kids watch PBS and even then only 1 show a day! I think that's insane.

You know the funny thing? Her boys are mean, rude, and often times violent. Gee, she can't blame it on the TV either!

Sandra said...

The key is 'quality educational TV'. Our kids learned a lot from these types of shows and still do. They love that 'Animal Atlas' that comes on in the morning. I have learned a lot myself from the National Geographic shows that come on.

Kimberley said...

TV is absolutely a necessity in my house. I think it is all about choosing the right programmes, and everything in moderation!

Of course the moderation rule goes out of the window when the kidlets go to bed, and I need to catch up on several weeks worth of Grey's ;o)!

Heather said...

We do too (though dvd's--cable is too expensive and if we had cable I would watch tv all day because I adore cooking shows and home and garden shows, and makeover shows and....yeah, no cable here.) however much of my kids unscholing comes from movies, rentals, and video games (and they watch a ton of tv on and and :) Its funny since we watch a lot on Netflix together that that I find they don't care so much about age appropriate. They are 11, 9, and 7 and HATE HAnnah Montana and Raven or whoever but LOVE Kipper, Sesame Street, Nick Jr. shows, and Mythbusters. :) I think a lot of it is teaching wisdom in watching, discussing what is learned (my son is addicted to "volcano shows") and often when friends or grandparents suggest less than great shows they know they are less than great and say so. And after a while they get bored with it and go build something or climb a tree or whatever.

Muthering Heights said...

Rose and Lily both love Dora as well, and have been enjoying Muzzy quite a bit!

I find both helpful in teaching my kids other languages since....uh...I don't actually know any...LOL!

ferrous said...

Amen to that! I know there are plenty of benefits to having no TV at all, but I do have one. It rarely goes on, but mainly because we watch DVDs on it. Here in Australia there are plenty of awesome children's educational programs on ABC (a government run channel that is very balanced and has no advertising). Smiley (5 & a half) even likes to watch the ones for adults about building and architecture.

While commercial TV here pretty much sucks, and I avoid switching to those channels, I'll almost always be ready to turn the TV onto ABC.

Mrs. M said...

Lisa-I think that in some circles it's really taboo to talk about kids watching TV. This is not one of those circles!

Jenny-I think a lot of things that people blame on "TV" is actually caused by "parenting" LoL.

Sandra-I agree! Not that there is anything wrong with a purely entertaining show (we love Finding Nemo!) but overall it's good for kids to watch things that can help them in some way.

Kimberley-Oh, I don't spend my nights watching Kai-Lan! I myself prefer House, Bones, and How I Met Your Mother. I watch them in giant marathons after the kids are in bed!

Heather-It's true that kids will get bored with TV and move on pretty quickly. I don't think there is an 'age' for TV shows, so much as an interest level and making sure it's appropriate. Our kids watch History Channel documentaries with us. Monkey watches everything from Kai-Lan to Dirty Jobs-whatever we deem is interesting and appropriate for him.

Muthering Heights-All the foreign language I know I learned in 10th grade French or from Noggin!

ferrous-I agree...selection is key! Thanks for stopping by :)

Jen said...

I opted for TV rather than preschool for my kids! :) And I'm not ashamed to admit it! haha!!