My TV/Video Strategy

Why is TV beneficial?

I have let Jett watch up to 30 minutes of television a day since he was about 15 months old, when I first read the article, “The Selective Use of TV and Videos for Advancing the Development of Special Needs, Typical and Accelerated Preschool Children”, by Robert J. Doman Jr, found in this post: Some TV is Good for Our Kids!
Excerpt:
“…[D]evelopment of your central/macular vision is very important to many aspects of learning and overall development. Many of the problems exhibited by children diagnosed with developmental delays result from the lack of properly developed central vision….Early stimulation of the central/macular vision is crucial to the development of children within the first two years of life…..[W]e came to the realization that television provides a unique form of visual stimulation. The images on television can only be perceived using central/macular vision; one cannot process the information on the screen with peripheral vision….We were learning that not only is television a great tool for developing central vision in children, but it really is an outstanding educational tool.”

TV Filters

Before that, Jett watched TV incidentally. I was careful as to what show was on in his presence in order to prevent him from seeing actions or hearing words that I don’t want him to repeat! The cooking channel was usually the easiest/quickest choice if he was in the room.

I understand there are filters you can use with to prevent unwanted audio to be heard in front of your child. If you are interested, here are a few helpful links:
Family Safe Media The TV Guardian filters profanity from your TV, DVD, Satellite, and Cable, while you watch.
TVGuardianThe Foul Language Filter, mutes profanity while you’re watching TV and movies according to your preferred filter level.

Television Shows

Instead of random TV, I have the PBS show, Between the Lions recorded so when Jett uses his potty (or if I need him to be distracted while I give him supplements), I can put it on. In this Emmy-winning series, the Jim Henson mom and dad lion puppets read stories to their cubs. As they read, the words appear on the screen and are high lighted in some way. They also sing songs and encourage phonetic understanding with silly skits and words flashed on the screen for reinforcement. The target audience is ages four to seven, children already familiar with their ABCs. Jett loves it because he is obsessed with words and the show certainly delivers. I keep the closed captions on so that he can see all the words that are being spoken. As he watches, he talks to the lions and points at the words on the screen. Here’s the parent support page for Between the Lions: http://www.pbs.org/parents/lions Here’s the TV guide page for BtL: http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/lions/194565
Here are free stories from Between the Lions: http://pbskids.org/lions/stories/
It’s read out loud and shows the (nice, big) words highlighted while it’s being read. PLUS you can also choose closed caption and it appears with upper & lower case! (This is rare, so I find it rather exciting.) You have lots of well produced, cute stories to choose from. (Be sure to check out all the different categories on the left of the screen.) Jett loves this show, but our DVDR lost data so we lost all the episodes & it’s no longer on our local PBS station. Stories are only like 5 minutes or less so it’s also perfect for a quick distraction while giving supplements!

The next show Jett may be allowed to watch is PBS’s WordWorld. This target audience is younger than BtL, starting with age three, because it doesn’t have quite as many words. The concept is interesting. They take words and turn them into pictures. So the word “hay” turns into a giant bale of hay with the letters in “hay” still visible. But, since it has less words and Jett loves to be read to, I’ve chosen BtL over WW. WW is also much busier and not as focused as BtL. For Jett, BtL is a better choice. Here’s the PBS parent support page on WW: http://www.pbs.org/parents/wordworld/index.html

If you can’t stand children’s shows, another program I’d recommend is the Singing Bee. It’s a karaoke competition for adults where they sing mostly country songs and show the words on the screen as they sing. Jett loves this, but now that I’ve found BtL, I prefer he watches that.

A good show to watch with kids is Animal Exploration with Jarod Miller or Growing Up… (an animal) on the Animal Planet TV station. They have great footage of animals and provide plenty of opportunity for discussion with your little one. I’d prefer a series that shows animals in their natural environment, but I haven’t found one yet. Please comment if you know of one.

At three years old, I let Jett watch:

Blues Clues- sweet show with a lot of interaction and a wide range of educational concepts. Jett’s favorite episode is called Words where they find words and make a poem out of them in the end.
Bear in the Big Blue House- gentle show with nice music and songs, learn such concepts as shapes, potty training, cleaning, senses, etc.
Team Umizoomi- a cute cartoon that introduces early math concepts.

At four years old, I let Jett watch:

The Cat in the Hat knows a Lot about That- Great show, lots of educational information.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood- Love this! Teaches social etiquette with sweet stories and songs.
Sid, the Science Kid- Awesome! Science for little children.
Peg + Cat- Entertaining, creative show about solving math problems.
Little Einsteins- enriching show about music, art, geography and animals
Dora the Explorer- cute show incorporating Spanish, map skills, following directions
Go, Diego, Go- learn Spanish, about animals and he even encourages kids to get up and dance or move with him.
Jay Jay, the Jet Plane- a bit over Jett’s head, but very educational and he enjoys it.
It’s a Big, Big World- learn about taking care of the environment and animals. Great show!
Peep and the Big Wide World- cute cartoon with simple stories about three outdoor characters as they learn about and explore their world.
Pee Wee’s Playhouse- loved this when I used to babysit so I had to let him watch it. Turns out–it’s great–gets him up and moving, teaches all kinds of stuff like manners, word of the day (too easy for him) and a variety of other educational topics.
On the Fantasia 2000 DVD, there are shorts in the bonus materials section that are awesome: Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom and Adventures in Music. They are great to introduce many music concepts. I remember them from when I was little! Jett loves them!
Donald’s Mathmagic Land- this is a great DVD! So interesting. Jett is mesmorized. It’ll take him a long time to get all the concepts introduced.

“Movement” Shows/DVDs
Winters where we are are harsh! So I turn to DVDs to get Jett moving:

Bo on the Go! Exercise cartoon. Hard for adults to watch too many times, but Jett enjoys it.

Barney Dance Barney explores many different dance styles in a gentle, entertaining way.

The Wiggles Ummm… kids love it… At least the newer versions have better singing/songs/stage production. Yule Be Wiggling is an older version that has subtitles (important to Jett) and lots of different styles of dancing, Furry Friends in a newer version that little babies would like too. (But Jett makes me skip one song and Oliver makes me skip another one.)

Rock N Learn’s Dance with Animals can be for the very young. I think I saw the older version. It’s not high quality in the least (terrible graphics, stupid songs), but gets Jett moving for sure!

Get Fit America for Kids Learn Tia Chi and Yoga. This gets Jett huffing and puffing.
Little Yogis Learn yoga with gentle, slow music and singing

Yoga Kids Learn yoga with kids making animal sounds and poses
Memoves.com has cool, relaxing movement clips. Jett does them on youtube.

For kids who are reading or have a better understanding of the spoken word, (6-9 in the typical population), I recommend the Electric Company. Here’s the parent support site: http://www.pbs.org/parents/electriccompany/.
The Magic School Bus is another good one.
Reading Rainbow can often be found in the library.
PBS Odd Squad

Educational DVDs
As far as educational videos, I got most of the Baby Einstein video series from a garage sale. Jett enjoyed them, but it didn’t seem educational enough for me so he only saw them once. There were few visible words (maybe 3 in a 30 minute video) and the verbal descriptions were too adult (actual adult poetry). They were visually stimulating, but playing and talking with your child seems much better to me than those videos. Maybe the newer DVDs are better?

I got the Your Baby Can Read video series from the library. He loved these! If I had the extra money, I would get these videos because it does support the Doman method somewhat, although the word appears much longer on the screen than with flash cards so it targets a different part of the brain. The large word appears on the screen and shows a video image of the item in different scenarios. The choice of words are good and the children in the video are very enthusiastic and enunciate well.
Really, if you had the time, you and your family could make your own video and it would be equally effective and even more delightful to your child. Just make your Doman flash cards and show the object or act out the word with enthusiasm in a couple of different ways. I would use this in addition to your flash cards.
Here is Paul Doney’s video of his son (with T21) using the YBCR program. He reads words and signs his response. Very cute! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c8hJaxrOsIQ .
Your Baby Can Read as reviewed by Laura
Readeez produces great DVDs that have songs and vignettes with large words that appear while spoken or sung. I highly recommend these. Jett loves them. He has been watching these for many months. The songs are great and our whole family loves listening to them and singing along.
Here are some (over 100!!) free Readeez videos: http://vimeo.com/search/videos/search:readeez/st/6407bb8c Careful, there is a Beastie Boys video, “Shake Your Rump” that has some weird psychedelic graphics that FREAK Jett out! And Jett also HATES the video called “Dynamics” because it plays with volume and so is surprising. (Jett will even cry if my husband suddenly laughs too loudly.) So, if your little one has sound sensitivities, do yourself a favor and skip it. Otherwise, Readeez is AWESOME!!

Brainy Baby’s First Impressions is another DVD-based reading program that I understand is good. http://www.brainybaby.com/shop/html/Products/Value-Line-of-DVDs/Babys-First-Impress-91.html Since I’m teaching sight words I’d probably not show the alphabet one until later. And I’m not teaching him to count chronologically yet since I’m doing the Doman dot method, so I probably wouldn’t show him the number one until later either. But the other titles look interesting.

I know other parents have had success with the Signing Times series to encourage speech, reading and of course, signing. I haven’t tried this because I’m trying to support Jett’s verbal attempts at speech. I’m not against teaching some signs to your baby so he is less frustrated when trying to communicate with you, but at this point, Jett gets his message across and has made up his own signs.

Rock N Learn Get Ready for Kindergarden I think I got the older version so the animation was terrible. Jett did enjoy it. It didn’t really support the Doman method of learning, but it has a nice guide to tying your shoes and about making your bed and such. I got it for $2 at Good Will.
MonkiSee Action Words DVD review as reviewed by Laura
Starfall as reviewed by Laura
See and Learn as reviewed by Laura
Funnix as reviewed by Laura
Love & Learning as reviewed by Laura
What programs have you tried and how have they worked for you?

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