Education Views - January 2006

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Education Views

Halfway Through The School Year
Doing Better During the Rest of the School Year
January 2006
by Barry H. Willen, member of the South Carroll Business Expo Committee, and President of Exploring Minds

Using TV to Educate Your Children

I write this after the coldest night of the winter. This morning’s TV news reports the temperature at 12B. ‘Tis a bit cold to send the kids outside to play. So, many children sit down in front of the TV for the day of game shows, MTV, and cartoons. In fact, TV acts as a babysitter. Even when you and I were kids, our folks used the TV to keep us amused while they tend their daily tasks.

The average child watches 24 hours of TV each week. Some studies even indicate that children watch more than double that in an average week. So, our kids spend an average of 3 to 7 hours a day in front of the boob tube. With 24 hours a day, children sleep 8 hours, go to school 6 hours, watch TV 3 to 7 hours, leaving 3 to 7 hours a day to eat, study, do chores, reading, and other activities.

Parents constantly ponder the benefits and drawbacks on having their children watch TV. Children can broaden their experiences through TV by viewing new and unique things, visit places they have never been, and meet people they may never see in person. On the other hand, too much television might stifle a child's creativity, limit vocabulary, and affect concentration and memory. Like the internet, children need to realize that they cannot believe everything he or she sees on the screen. Also, many shows have content unsuitable for children.

The following guidelines may help in monitoring your child's television habits:
Limit the amount of television your child watches. Encourage him to read and pursue other activities. You need to decide how much time each day you set aside for him to watch TV.

Your children look to you for advice and guidance. Serve as an example and limit the amount of television you watch. Set a time when you turn the TV off so for a family activity, such as reading, playing board games, or going to the library.

Select programs for your children to watch. Ask your children to give you a reason for them to watch a particular show. Ask them about their favorite programs and characters.

Share in your children’s daily activities by watching the same programs they watch. Believe it or not, you may find many of these shows interesting. My wife and I enjoyed watching Seasame Street as much as my children did.

Encourage your children to read about some of the subjects or themes presented during their favorite TV show. Have a variety of books and magazines readily available in your home for your children to use as a resource to find out more about something they saw on TV. One set of books I find invaluable is the Encyclopedia. Though you can access much of this information online, the Encyclopedia offers you and your children instant access on a myriad of subjects.

Stimulate your children’s interest in learning. Have your child watch educational programs with you and even try to write and produce amateur TV shows or commercials. Depending on your children’s ages, you will want to view Maryland Public TV, the History Channel, the Discovery Channel, the Learning Channel, and Animal Planet.

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