The following is a post from contributing writer Stef.
I used to get so mad when my boys woke up and asked to watch a television show before eating breakfast! Any break in homeschool lessons and they were holding remotes asking to turn on a show.
It was amazing how my oldest son turned into the TV Guide on Saturdays and knew every television show that was on every hour. Even the ones we never watched.
We didn’t watch that much television as a family. For some reason because we had a television (and only one in our living room) the boys felt it should be on all.the.time.
I decided they could not watch “fun shows” until school was finished and chores were completed. (fun shows having little educational value).
I even made “tv tickets” – that never lasted. But then an unexpected phone call I had to make needed a bit of attention so the tv was turned on. Or I forgot to print out lessons and grab books, so the tv was turned on. Prepping for dinner needed my attention so the tv was turned on.
I realized they were only asking to watch television because I had been relying on it.
Rather than beat myself up I accepted the fact that “mommy moments”. I purchased educational dvds: What’s In The Bible, Magic School Bus, National Geographic Really Wild Animals, and Nest Learning. We also went to our library weekly for learning dvds like Squibs and Schlessinger. (be careful of library fines though – we learned they add up … quickly).
Wouldn’t you know my son is a visual learner, so the dvds have been a fantastic supplement!
We also invested in Netflix. Now after dinner our family watches educational shows together – it’s the best reality tv!
Rather than fight the television monster I’m using it to enhance learning!
With my son’s dyslexia we have to be flexible about how we get information into him. He is capable of understanding and retaining information many years beyond his reading level…so we rock the educational DVD’s and tv shows. Wild Kratts, Schoolhouse Rock, Rock n Learn, Magic School Bus (watch out for dated information since it is science…the space stuff is particularly off). Using the TV as a tool for learning works like a charm with my son. People who are dyslexic are often very visual with great memories….why not capitalize on it?
National Geographic? Genius…I’ll add it to the want list!
I use Netflix quite a bit with our homeschooling. Jeff Corwin, Cyberchase, Leap Frog for the little guys. We also love the What’s in the Bible series. My husband have learned all kinds of things about church history from them! My boys have learned all kinds of things from PBS’s Wild Kratts – and they have a packet of lessons online to go with the shows.
Our TV is only DVDs (no cable or satellite subscription; and antenna reception is so-so), so I also learned not to fight it. I’ve been amazed at what my preschooler retains from the songs. She isn’t just sitting still either, she dances and plays with them on. While it’s not “TV” we find a lot of decent videos on a particular channel’s website too (pbskids.org, especially old Mr. Roger’s).
We use our tv for dvds only~with Superbowl (a dvd during half time and turning off some commercials!) or the World Series if our team is in it. Since many of our children are older, we sometimes watch seasons of past television shows. Afterwards, we discuss what made the show good or bad. We also talk about the morality of what happened or not. Mind you, we are not carte blanc! This has led to many beautiful teachable moments of natural law and consequences to certain behaviors. All of our children have learned so much about the bible from Veggie Tales.
I couldn’t agree more. My child is older (13) but we utilize television off and on throughout the week. Each morning while eating breakfast she watches Liberty Treehouse. Recently for history we started watching America Story of Us and we choose documentaries off Netflix when we have some free time. Also a few nights each week we have started viewing The Waltons, Little House on the Prairie, and The Brady Bunch.
This post really was so encouraging to read. THANK YOU! It’s really a pet peeve of mine to hear people go on and on about the evils of television. I really believe it has value where you choose your value.
We also don’t have cable, and purchase Netflix. My kids have allotted amounts of time (which actually is overall screen time per day, including wii, computer, and the like), and often my reply to “May I watch TV?” is “Only if you choose something educational.” (That’s not to say that sometimes we fall out of balance….we do…..but when you set some boundaries for yourself, it’s easy to find your way back). I think my children have learned (and are learning) how to critically think about what it is they’re viewing and are now able to differentiate between fluff and meat, purity and darkness. Our culture is so bombarded with images, I want my children to learn how to wade their way through it…..not isolate them from it all.
The kids watched ‘The Electric Company’ episodes over and over again, and we’ve discovered some great classics like ‘Seven Alone’ on Netflix. We also have some great DVD’s of our own like the Blue Planet series, Veggietales, TheAndy Griffin Show, The Cosby Show, Little House on the Prairie, Leave it to Beaver, etc. Having our own collection of movies like Nanny MacPhee, The Sound of Music, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Because of Winn Dixie, etc. helps the kids have controlled/approved choices at their disposal. We found ‘Canada: A People’s History’ online from CBC and are making our way through viewing that, and I’m personally really enjoying it myself! TV can be a great source of learning if we are in control of it, and don’t allow it to control us. What a great tool!
Thanks again! I’m grateful to see somebody shed some reasonable light on a hot spot that often gets a bad wrap. Sometimes I think those who throw the baby out with the bath water, really just prove to be extremists because they don’t know how to discipline themselves and their children to find a healthy balance.
Cheryl P says
Thank you so much for this information. I have just added a whole new list of things I am looking for at sales and at the library, BTW I agree about the library fines adding up but my husband just looks at it as our little contribution to our town, lol.
I love using the television and computer for learning! I have been known to make graphic organizers to give the children a purpose for watching something. The organizer helps them watch for certain information. I remember one time we watched The Lion King in my classroom. My students listed all the animals they saw. After the movie, we classified the animals into their correct group. It was a part of our unit study. I still use the television now with my own children whom I homeschool. We will be participating in a webcast by Discovery on oceans later today. Think of how much we learn as parents from the internet. Why not teach our children to use the resources they have available to them?
KM Logan says
I often struggle with this one, but just last night my 3 year old starts telling me all about how orcas are big and breath air. She tells me that they like to spin around in the water and dive. I know we have a book with that information in it but it wasn’t until she saw an orca on tv that it stuck.
I have to agree with Emily. I just don’t understand why some people are so tv phobic. Like it is evil by nature. It is a form of media like any other and can be positive or negative. Just like internet, radio, theater, books, comic books etc. Television can be a beneficial tool when used correctly! Great post!
Ashley Pichea says
The TV is NOT evil and it will NOT rot your children’s brains – so long as YOU control the TV and not the other way around! 🙂
I used to worry that my kids were watching too much TV, but when I can control what they’re watching, I can use it to teach them and they actually GET it!
John Wilkerson says
My kids love watching How It’s Made and Mythbusters. Great educational shows that you can find on Netflix.
I would also check the websites for some of the shows. They often have coloring pages, activities and books for further reading. I loved Between the Lions and Reading Rainbow and their websites. You just need to be careful about content on some shows.
This makes me feel marginally better about my 4 and 2 year old’s addiction to Justin Time. They’ve already watched them all but they want them over and over again. They used to be that way about the Magic School bus but now they’re on this one. Mom gives me hell about it.