TV for kids? We all know that it is B-A-D? Right? If you even let your kids see a TV, you are in trouble. They are gonna be zombies from the beginning.
And don’t even get me started on video games. Once you get a console, you lose your child.
I am being sarcastic. My kids (and I) love tv.
Too much tv for kids is bad. Too much of anything for kids is bad, but of course, tv and video games can be beneficial.
It is important to recognize that our kids can learn from TV because homeschool parents are often under much more pressure than parents of traditionally schooled children.
TV for Kids: Moderation is Key
But let’s be real, too. Screens, in the form of educational games and TV, can add great value into our school for several reasons. The key to using them responsibly is simply moderation.
First, these programs can be a reliable and fun way to get kids to be independent. This means that parents can work with another child or grab a quick shower.
There is evidence that quality educational programming like Sesame Street helps prepare kids for school in an effective way.
These results were consistent across 15 different countries, with representatives from all socioeconomic statuses and research methods. This meta-study reviewed 24 studies and 10,000 children.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, an reimagination of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, has been shown to be beneficial in teaching our kids social lessons and in promoting emotional intelligence.
According to a study released by University of Texas, preschoolers who watched the show were better able to understand the emotions of others. They had higher empathy scores.
In this study, kids who were engaged in conversation about the material did the best on the tests, suggesting that parental reinforcement of these ideals was still a major factor in the benefits.
Parents can engage in these shows with our kids and make sure they reap the benefits. Of course, I am still going to turn on Daniel Tiger and slip away to change the laundry or change a diaper, because we are not perfect.
Our kids get plenty of time to play other things as you can see in this trip to the park where we hid letters inside of eggs then let the kids hunt them!
So often in the homeschool world, we forget the power of the moving picture story. Kids can glean many of the benefits of sharing our favorite childhood shows, in terms of bonding through shared experience.
They can also learn the importance and sequence of narrative story through movies and TV shows.
Of course, as I have stated before, the importance of books shouldn’t be underestimated either, but I am not above using Fern Gully to talk about important parts or the sequence of a story. Getting to re-live part of my childhood and sing some favorite songs with my kids is just a perk.
You had better believe I am going to include educational video games, too.
According to this 2002 study by a researcher who focuses on gambling addiction studies, his review of the literature showed that those who were negatively affected by video games where almost always those who played video games too much.
This study of video games designed for educational use showed that games improved student learning and motivation to learn in the classroom.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) takes the position that video games, when used appropriately and within reasonable time limits, can make meaningful additions for the experiences and learning outcomes of young children. Here is their in depth position paper.
Head Start in Tech
Last, teaching kids to use technology from an early age is a good thing.
Our society has come to rely on technology for even the simplest daily tasks like keeping a schedule. I know plenty of people who keep their calendar on their phone, using their Alexa or Dot to schedule things hands-free.
My doctor’s office has done away with paper records altogether, replacing forms with a tablet.
Computers and their uses will be an integral part of my homeschool for years to come. My kids will learn to type and to code.
I would like to conclude that while I am definitely not going to base all of my preschool curriculum around TV, games, or computers, I do not pretend they are nothing but bad.
I am going to use them to my advantage, both as a legitimate way to teach and reinforce skills, a way to bond, and as a way to keep my kids entertained so I can shower or load the dishwasher without guilt or fear that my kids resort to tearing out each other’s hair in my absence.