I’ve never been a huge fan of television. From the time I was a kid, I don’t remember watching many cartoons; if I watched a show, it was before bed with my grandparents and it was always Bewitched, I Dream of Jeanie, or Green Acres. Perhaps not the best kids shows in the world, but I was lucky if I made in 5 minutes in before falling asleep. I never had shows that I watched on a regular basis until after I graduated college.
Now, I wasn’t naive enough before becoming a parent to think that my kids would never watch television. But I did know that they wouldn’t be watching any adult shows and that they wouldn’t watch a lot of television. I will admit that they watch more than I had originally hoped, which was 20 minutes 3 times a week. Right now, the kids watch about 20 minutes of television in the morning, right when they wake up, to keep them from having massive meltdowns while I prepare their breakfast; and another 20 minutes in the afternoon if they’ve had a particularly bad day (overly tired from playing, fighting a lot, the list goes on).
As far as what I allow the kids to watch- PBS only, and of those shows, I am still particular. I aim for shows that are truly educational, or shows that effectively teach something. Our top shows are:
- Peg + Cat: This is a math show about a girl and her cat and their adventures. There are some things I dislike about this show (the attitude of the “teenagers” for example), but overall the pros outweigh the cons on this one. They do every type of math, and teach ideas such as “bigger vs smaller.” It’s probably D1’s favorite.
- Super WHY! This is a reading show and both of the kids have learned from watching this. Not only letter recognition, but phonics, rhyming.. this might be my top show for them to watch!
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Based on Mister Rogers Neighborhood, this show teaches manners and all types of lessons perfect for preschoolers. The songs are catchy too- we used their potty song when the boys were learning, and the clean up song is sung multiple times every day in our house. D2 really loves Daniel, and recently mom Tiger had a baby, which is really great for us right now!
- Dinosaur Train: A family of dinosaurs travel throughout times to meet and learn about different types of dinosaurs. I wasn’t aware that a 2 and 3 year old could distinguish between and so clearly say so many different dinosaurs.
- Cat In The Hat: Every day Nick and Sally go on a new “adventure” to learn something with the cat. The funny part about this one is that, from a parents point of view, it’s obvious that their mother thinks the cat is made up when she agrees to let them go on these adventures. Nonetheless, I can’t even begin to list the things I’ve learned from this show. This summer, every earthworm the kids found was named “Diggery” and transferred to our garden to help it grow, “just like in cat!”
I don’t think it would be possible to list all of the shows I would never allow the kids to watch (I can tell you at the top of that list is Sponge Bob Square Pants.. just NO, for a thousand reasons). And we do allow some Disney movies, mostly in the car when we are on long trips- Cars, Cars 2 and
unfortunately Frozen are their favorites.
It may not offer for a lot of variety in their viewing, but honestly- with the small amount of screen time they have, I don’t think they really mind. I can’t say that I think the kids would watch much more television if they were allowed. They’re active and have wonderful imaginations. While they do gain something from the shows they are allowed to watch, I have to say that books are always better ;)