Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TV is Our Friend

I am different from a lot of parents-I make absolutely no apologies about the fact that my kids watch a lot of TV. Sure, I've gotten the snide remarks-especially from my in laws, who had no electronics in their home until my sisters in law were 16-but I'm not sorry. Right now, as we speak, all three kids are in front of the television....and yes, this includes my 20 month old and my 5 month old (though it should be mentioned though that our 5 month old Bean is sleeping-as she should be, having been up all night).

I realize that TV is a controversial issue. Just watch this video (from Juice Box Jungle)

More parenting videos on JuiceBoxJungle

Maybe it's what we're watching, but my kids don't become "TV zombies". They play and interact with each other and with the characters on the TV. They count with Dora, practice Mandarin with Kai Lan, read and spell with the kids from SuperWhy...then, when their shows are over, they use the shows they watched in their imaginative play. If that's bad parenting, sue me.

In fact, I know it's probably going to be controversial but I'm going to say it-as a home educator, I use the television as an invaluable educational tool. Our five year old can draw a diagram of your leg, identifying the tibia, patella, femur, tendons, and muscles....thank you Science Rock. He can speak over 30 words and phrases in Mandarin....all because of Kai Lan. He can identify major foreign landmarks like the Great Wall of China and the Eiffel Tower and tell you their country of origin.....thanks to Toot and Puddle.

He learns so much from his TV experience, it provides excellent building blocks for our home learning. Because of his interest in world landmarks we have been utilizing our world map more and he can now identify almost a dozen cities/countries. The passion for Mandarin that started with Kai Lan has branched out and we now use computer software to learn what Monkey wants to learn-he now knows more than 30 words and phrases. Once he learned that individual bones have individual names, he wanted to know all of them....right now we're learning the names of all the bones in the foot.

I'm not saying that all TV watching is enriching-Lord knows letting your kids watch Hollywood Ink all day probably would make them zombies-but in my opinion letting your kids watch educational television which you utilize and build upon doesn't make you a criminal....and if you happen to get a blog post in while they're being enriched, so be it.


Samantha said...

I have felt guilty about letting Bree watch t.v, because of comments from other parents, but we watch Dora and Kai Lan, and educational stuff. She learns alot from those shows (and I do too).

Bree still loves to read books, and play with her imagination. She has no problems with interacting with other kids, and she is really smart.

At this very moment, she is eating her lunch and watching Dora the Explorer and LOVING it. I see nothing wrong with it. She learns from these shows, and to me, that's all that matters :)

Debbie said...

I think you have hit upon the key to anything - doing it with a purpose. It is when we just mindlessly do whatever that we get into trouble.

Jennifer Murray said...

I don't limit my kids' TV time either. The only exception is my son is not allowed to have it turned on if he has homework from school (very rare since he is only in Kindergarten, but will continue as a rule through the years).

They have learned an insane amount in their young years from it. They have always watched aga-appropriate programing, they usually play the whole time they are watching. Dancing, repeating, remembering what they've learned..I don't see the issue! My 4 year old wants to learn to speak Spanish, so I believe Santa is looking for an age appropriate program that she and I can do together. THANK YOU DORA, Diego, Maya & Miguel! :)

Vodka Logic said...

great post. and my kids watch a lot of tv too and I agree it is what you let them watch.

Nicolasa said...

I think it is all about what they watch. You have a purpose and they are learning things. Nothing wrong with that!

I had a friend in HS who didn't have cable in her house and she was soooo sheltered from the world. She was book smart but didn't seem to know anything else that was going on in the world. It was quite sad.

Scrappy Girl said...

My kids watch too much tv too. They watch the shows you mentioned and they have learned so much! They also learn things that I may not be interested in or things that I myself may not even know.

The other day Wild Child told her big sister that her best friend is named Olivia and that she's a girl NOT A PIG! LOL!

stonebrookcottage said...

I have felt like a BAD mom because of the response i get when from other mommies when i let my kids watch dora, and wordgirl and shows like that. However..both of my kids know so many words in spanish and Mandrin! My two yr old can sing all of his abcs..and he just turned 2 2 weeks ago. i do it with a purpose..it isn't mindless. thank you so much for this post! I was feeling like such a bad/guuily mom like i should only allow them 30 minutes of tv. Currently my daughter loves OLIVIA...i love it too! she has actually helped my daughter find her "imagination". I find her play acting with her brother all the time, and i love it

Everyday Mom Ideas said...

I LOVE NOGGIN! People are always like "wow your kids are so smart. Thery know how to count to ten in spanish and they are only three"! I just smile. Thank you Dora!

stopping by from SITS

karen said...

BRAVO MRS M! I have no doubt nor any qualms that my kids will be planted in front of the tv... interacting, not zoning. You hit upon the key, which is not only what programming their watching, but parents being involved and making the experience interactive. Please. As a child of the 80's so much of what I learned was from tv... (what a conjunction's function is, cats and mice CAN get along thanks Tom & Jerry, classical music can be cool when Elmer is chasing Bugs to it) and not all of it was bad!

karen said...

Mrs M, I'm writing an article on tv and the whole Baby Einstein refund deal this week for my weekly mom's newsletter... can I reference this post of yours and attach the link? I just love this post and think its an honest, practical, balanced view of the tv controversy. Let me know, no worries if you say no! If its cool, I'd be happy to forward you a the newsletter, even tho u are no where near Pasadena CA!