My toddler watches TV.
Yup, I said it.
Now let’s not be crazy. I don’t let her watch TV all the time. I am very much a believer in the “Everything in Moderation” mindset. Our social media feeds are full of articles telling us that TV and screen time are bad for kids, and I definitely agree that screen time should be monitored and minimized. However, I have definitely seen a benefit to allowing my daughter some screen time with educational television shows.
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If you follow this blog, or any of my social media profiles, you know that we do more than watch TV. I make sure that my daughter’s days are filled with reading, art, crafts, activities, learning and exploration. She still hasn’t watched a movie because she doesn’t like sitting in front of the TV for that long anyway. So I am not ashamed to admit, that every so often, I do let her watch some TV.
How Screen Time Has Helped Her With Reading
By providing kids with background knowledge, you can help them to better understand the world and to connect better with the books that you are reading. I love when my daughter makes a connection in the world using knowledge from a favorite book or TV show. While we were in the park the other day, she saw a bulldozer working and said “That’s a bulldozer, just like Word Party!”. I mentioned on my Instagram recently that she is currently obsessed with volcanoes. She loves to talk to people about them using knowledge that she gained from some of her favorite shows. I have also been able to branch off of that and we recently checked out some library books on volcanoes. So her TV time has not only given her background knowledge on something, but also encouraged her to read more books about it!
Now while I have previously mentioned that I believe parents should let kids read what they want, I am much more strict about the shows that my daughter watches. For the first several months that I let her watch any TV, she only watched one show (by her own choice). We watched every episode of Disney’s Little Einsteins until I knew every word to every song. She recently started showing interest in other shows, and I have been pleasantly surprised to see each of these shows teach her a skill, or a bit of background knowledge that has helped us with our reading. Today I’m sharing a few of her favorites, and how they have helped her with a wide variety of skills.
Her Favorite Shows
This show was my daughter’s absolute favorite, and the only show she would watch for a long time. I’m a Disney fan, so I trusted that it was a good show, and it proved me right! Not only did she learn from this show, but I did too! The Little Einsteins are a group of 4 friends who take their friend Rocket (an adorable little rocket ship) on all kinds of adventures. Each episode features an artist or a type of art, as well as a composer and a piece of their music. As they go on their adventures, they use music terminology to make the rocket move or to help them in the story. The way the characters move through the paintings and visit distant places is really creative and fun to watch, both for parents and for kids.
My daughter has learned so much from this show. Before she was 2, she would tell you that her favorite artist was Tchaikovsky. She recently came across Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” painting in a book and told my sister, “That’s ‘Starry Night’!”. I cannot believe the background knowledge that she has taken from this show. She also throws around music terminology in every day life, especially “staccato” when she is jumping and “crescendo” when things are getting louder.
(Disney Channel show, streaming on Netflix, available on Amazon).
This was a newer find for us, and it has been a fun addition. Super Why follows a little boy named Wyatt (the little brother of Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk), as he and his friends “The Super Readers” use books to help them solve problems. As they come across simple issues in their daily lives, they find stories that deal with similar problems and jump inside them.
While they are in the story, they use their different reading powers to move the story along. Alpha Pig uses the alphabet to build. Wonder Red uses parts of words and rhyming to put words together. Woofster uses his dictionary power to find the meaning of unknown words. Princess P has spelling power and Super Why has the power to read. As each of them uses their powers, they help kids learn how to recognize letters, sound words out and spell.
Since this show teaches kids the skills they need to read, I was a little worried it would be too old for her. Once again I was wrong. In the few months since she has started watching this one, she has started to recognize some of the sounds that letters make, and she uses some of the lessons they teach in every day life. She has even started trying to spell. Much like her “reading” a book to me, the concept is way above her head, but the fact that she is mimicking it is a good foundation.
(PBS Show, streaming on Netflix, available on Amazon).
As a Disney fan, I knew that I wanted my daughter to know Mickey Mouse! This adorable show follows Mickey and friends as they have adventures and solve problems using their Mousketools.
This show touches on a little bit of everything. A lot of times the episodes review counting, colors and shapes. They also tend to discuss social skills such as being kind or helping others. One of my daughter’s favorite episodes (and mine!) takes the characters on a trip “around the world”. They visit France, Italy, Egypt and China. She has even picked up a few words in other languages to add to her vocabulary. Of course, being Disney, there are also lots of songs that we both enjoy singing and dancing to.
(Disney Channel show, repeats airing on Disney Channel, available on Amazon).
This is a cute show that teaches kids about words, as well as important life lessons. There are 4 baby characters who count on the viewers (the big kids), to help them solve problems. Each episode teaches new words using a theme, such as transportation or gardening. This has been a great show for building her vocabulary. She also has started using the phrase “I don’t know the words” when she is struggling to tell me something, just like on the show. It has helped me recognize when she is trying to find the right words, so we can work it out together.
(Netflix original show, streaming on Netflix).
There are so many great skills and concepts that my daughter has picked up from the limited screen time that she has. I recognize the science behind not allowing kids to have screens, and I do think it should be limited, However, I do think that there are some great resources out there for parents who choose to allow their kids to have screen time. Do your kids have a favorite show that they have learned from?