While setting your preschooler in front of the television all day long isn’t a good idea, a couple hours each day actually may be beneficial, especially if the programming you choose is educational.
So how do you know if a TV show is educational? So many options crowd the airwaves, and they all tout themselves as educational. You, as a parent, should be active in your preschooler’s TV watching. Pay attention to what they watch, and sit down with them to help explain what’s happening on the screen. Here are a few things that signal a truly educational tv program:
Good role modeling
Children tend to latch onto the main characters in the shows they watch, glorifying them and trying to mimic their actions. Choose shows with solid lead characters who show good morals and make positive choices.
Look for a program that shows your child how to solve a problem or confront an uncomfortable situation. A preschooler’s first reaction when faced with a challenge is often to throw a fit or give up completely. A character in an educational program may teach your child how to work through disappointment or to be persistent. Many of these shows present a set of solutions and encourage your preschooler to make the best choice.
Some educational TV shows for preschoolers teach about letters or how to sound out words. Some shows put words at the bottom of the screen and ask your child to follow along. These educational programs give preschoolers valuable skills on which they can continue to build. Language skills grow quickly at the preschool level, so children catch onto this type of program quickly.
Shows that teach preschoolers math skills help them gain a basic understanding of a subject they’ll need for life. These shows focus on numbers, counting, patterns and shapes. They often ask children to name shapes or to complete patterns, as well as do simple addition and subtraction, all while making it seem like a game. Some of these concepts sound difficult for preschoolers to grasp, but you’ll be surprised how quickly your preschooler can pick up on them if they’re presented correctly.
>> Printable math pages
Many educational TV shows teach preschoolers about comprehension — often, by telling a story, then later asking what happened. These shows help your preschooler learn the importance of paying attention, as well as how to recall important facts.
No matter how hard you try, you can’t show your child everything there is to see in the world. Some educational TV shows give preschoolers glimpses into other worlds. Such programs take the kids on adventures at sea and into the jungle, and launch them into outer space, sparking interests thy didn’t know they had. Take advantage of this by paying attention to what your children enjoy, and then spend time learning about it. If your child has taken an interest in an elephant on a show, go to the library and find a book about elephants, or talk about where elephants live, what they eat and how they sound.
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