I grew up on Sesame Street. That and Playschool (which, incidentally, is how I learned to tell basic time).
What I didn't realise on becoming a mother myself, is that such great TV programmes still exist. Munchkin didn't really watch anything till he was over 2 years old, as I've read a few times that there's no known benefits to children under 2 being exposed to digital visual content, but rather it's thought by some to be detrimental. So he had a Thomas DVD and Wiggles DVD for those nights when he was teething that we couldn't get him to go to sleep (and my own Hairspray DVD which for a time he loved more than either of his, but we won't mention that here as I'm trying to be age appropriate, ya know!). But since then, DVDs have crept into our lives. Some of this is because I love movies and naturally I want to share that love with my son. But in all honesty, mostly it was when he was sick. We'd borrow a DVD from the library, a friend or family, and it was just so, so, so nice when he was feeling yucky and the weather was terrible and he couldn't go outside without coughing and coughing and coughing. You get the idea. Then of course we were in the habit. Boyo sleeps in often. Comes with the territory when you work night shifts. But somewhere there I ended up with Munchking watching a DVD when I showered in a morning, rather than reading books like he used to do. I guess partly because it's the only sure way I know that he will be still in the same place I left him ten minutes earlier! Grin. But I wasn't really comfortable with it.
Well, I had an interesting conversation with someone recently about what they do in their house, and reached some conclusions of my own.
Firstly: I'm not happy with how much DVD watching my boy is doing. Especially that he asks so often for it. The content is above board for the most part. They are series that we've watched with him so we know the content. He doesn't own any movies at this stage, although we've watched a few. I don't mind the occasional rental of a movie that we watch as a family. That's building family, in my mind, creating memories just as much as the pikelet making or games we play afterwards do. It's the daily watching. The reliance by myself and Boyo on our 'babysitting' service.
Secondly: I don't really LOVE most of the DVDs he watches. They are okay. They pretty much all have good moral themes like sharing, telling the truth, etc (some done with more realistic story lines than others!). But that's pretty much it. They are essentially, to my mind, entertainment. And entertainment should be reserved for special occasions, not daily necessity (says she who was watching 3 TV programmes a week earlier this year - but never fear, they all finished their seasons and I now have NO TV to watch to wind down after study, which is what I knew would happen).
Then I realised. Sesame Street is still around. My mum HAD told me ages ago. But of course I kept forgetting. And at that point I think I didn't really want something that was on TV. A set time of day you're committed to (or miss out on!!). I preferred the DVDs that we could choose when to start and finish (the only issue being that instead of watching one or two episodes, my son was gradually watching an entire DVD per sitting). Hmmm.
Change of routine.
Munchkin no longer has any library DVDs. We took them all back. He didn't really fuss much either about not getting any more.
He is watching Sesame Street on TV4 from 2-3pm weekdays. If we are not home, we don't watch. Saturday is TV/DVD free. Sunday he can watch car racing with his daddy in the afternoon, and if Daddy doesn't have any he wants to watch, Munchkin can watch a DVD. Today it was Auto-Be-Good from our church library.
It's going well. Munchkin does tend to ask me every hour or so when Sesame Street is on. I guess he'll learn to tell the time faster this way as we have many, many conversations around where this hand or that hand has to get to before it is time! He's asked for DVDs but not had any major issues (as I'd feared he might). He's playing more, reading more, imagining more, going outside more, and generally I'm feeling more content about this. This morning he played in his room while I showered. So there were cars all over his bed. But he played. And I did shower in peace. And he (and I!) loved his DVD time this afternoon as it was a real treat.
And on that note, I'd like to say:
I LOVE SESAME STREET!
Sometimes the oldies really are the goodies!
I'm just amazed every time I watch it. I remember some of the songs! Some things just haven't changed. Like it's educational focus. Nothing else, NOTHING, that I've seen for this age group of pre-schoolers comes close to Sesame Street for it's literacy and numeracy rich environment.
There's counting and reading, and a rich rhyming and vocabulary base. I love how they do things like say "Princess Grouchy's parents were sad." "Sad? We're more than sad, we're melancholy, forlorn..."
It's about REAL children too. They often interweave real children narrating, and visits to real places, opening children to the real world around them.
The strong educational focus doesn't end with academics either. They include so much healthy living information. Last week Munchkin learned all about teeth. And in good time too as he's having his first Dental Nurse visit this week.
It's FUNNY. Munchkin just loves the antics of the Muppet creations and their friends.
All in all, it is just such a well-presented programme and I'm so grateful that it's still running and I've finally come to my senses so my son can enjoy and benefit from it just like I did all those years ago!