Jef began working at Scholastic in the early 1990s on the television series The Magic School Bus. His job is to select and develop high quality children’s television properties. Jef is also a former 3rd grade and Kindergarten teacher, as well as a dad.
One of Kaiser’s findings is about parents and “media rules.” According to the report, only about three in 10 young people say they have rules about how much time they can spend watching TV (28%). But when parents set limits, children spend less time with media: those with any media rules consume nearly 3 hours less media per day than those with no rules.
Jef Kaminsky concurs about creating limits around TV watching, and offers some valuable advice of his own:
I can’t stress strongly enough that parents should “pre-screen” and “co-view” television programming for and with their kids. Whenever my family comes across a new television show, my wife and I will watch it ahead of time to ensure that it’s appropriate for our daughter’s age and stage of development. Soon enough, she’ll be old enough to see, hear and understand older-skewing content, so what’s the rush for her see it before she is old enough to understand it properly and to process it for herself?
Co-viewing simply means watching TV with your kids. You can be there to answer any questions and ask your kids questions, but mostly it’s fun to hang out together! Then you’ll be able to truly “water cooler” with them about what they’ve watched.
Good educational television can augment a child’s knowledge base in a multitude of content areas. There are a lot of great shows for both preschoolers and grade schoolers alike that put the focus on reading, math and science skills. Here are some of my recommendations for the current offerings in the kids television space.
Shows for Preschoolers (ages 3 to 5):
Clifford The Big Red Dog – The Clifford
series on PBS Kids continues to help the youngest viewers get ready for school by incorporating a pro-social curriculum into each and every episode of the series. If you’ve got a preschooler who is about to face the challenge of spending full school days amongst other preschoolers, you can’t go wrong with Clifford. The topics explored and the lessons learned are just the ticket for children who are growing into peer-to-peer relationships.
Curious George and Sid the Science Kid – These two offerings from PBS Kids help preschoolers begin to make sense of science and engineering (how things work). These shows, along with Scholastic’s The Magic School Bus,
do a nice job of introducing science content to the youngest viewers.
Sesame Street and SuperWhy – For the youngest children learning their letters and letter sounds, these series demystify decoding. And of course, Sesame Street incorporates other content areas as well – numbers and counting, social issues and more have made it the 40 year-old golden standard of children’s television. (Like many of my peers, Sesame Street helped me learn to read and count – and sing a song or two!)
Shows for School Aged Kids (ages 6 to 9):
The Electric Company – This series is just right for emergent readers. The new version is wonderfully done and really fun. There’s a lot of great character interaction and the interesting storylines make this series one of my daughter’s current favorites.
– All the fun of a superhero series with all the goodness of building a super strong
vocabulary. A solid curriculum (in the guise of great humor) helps tackle the vocabulary deficit that affects too many students. Kids can watch WordGirl defeat her enemies and learn to use new words, all in the same entertaining half-hour. WordGirl is a stellar star in my house!
Wizards of Waverly Place and iCarly – While these shows aren’t exactly “granola television”, they’re fun and funny pre-teen fare.
Television can be a great break from busy schedules – but it shouldn’t be a child’s main course. If your child is watching more television than reading books, work with them to strike a balance. And of course, families can open up a good book and read together too!