Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Many of you would be surprised to hear me say there are many positives about Sesame Street.  Those of you that follow my blogs or hear me speak know how I do not support children watching television.  In fact, I frequently demonstrate in presentations how brain connections are made best through interaction and play versus watching TV. And I ALWAYS say … no television before the age of two.
However, I do congratulate Sesame Street for the examples the show gives us on how the brain learns .
  •  The brain learns through having fun
  •  The brain learns through positive role models
  •  The brain learns through real objects
  •  The brain learns from repetition  
  •  The brain learns from predictability
Sesame Street does all of this and you can see each of these in the following example. You will most likely be able to sing along!

However, it is critical to early brain development that we do not have children just sitting and watching television. Research shows brain connections made through direct interaction as opposed to just observing are much stornger. The Neilson Company reports, “ American children aged 2-11 are watching more and more television than they have in years. New findings show kids aged 2-5 now spend more than 32 hours a week on average in front of a TV screen”.

So to optimize the type of learning that Sesame Street demonstrates is best, have children play and interact with real people and get outdoors. But, if a child is going to watch television it is critical to make that time fully interactive.  Following are ideas to turn television viewing in to an interactive experience:
  •           While watching have the child respond and take an active part by singing along with the songs,  answering questions out loud, and so on.
  •             Dance and move together along with music on a show.
  •             Ask questions as you watch together. For example ask, “What would you do if that happened to you?”
  •             Have the child imitate and act out actions on a program.
  •            Together clap along with a song or while counting.
  •             As you are watching a program have the child guess what might happen next.
  •             After a program, have the child remember the sequence of events. Ask, what happened first, next and last in the story.
The most important thing to remember is the brain learns best through experiencing fun interactions with real people and objects!  So… “Come and play everything is a-okay…. ….  “
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