By Allison McDonald, Founder, No Time For Flash Cards
I am going to start this post with full disclosure, my child watches TV. I know how easy it is to turn it on, but it’s so much harder to turn it off! Young children learn through play and although they may be yelling at Dora or dancing with the Wiggles, watching TV isn’t play. When they play they imagine, they set rules and boundaries, they practice social skills and so much more.
Here are some tips to limit the TV and maximize the play in your day:
1. Don’t turn it on in the morning if you can avoid it. I know in my house once it’s on… it’s much harder to start playing with toys or an art project or even get out of the house for a play date. Kids’ shows normally have “Coming Next” half way through the previous show and that has been the death of me more than once. My son notices it and decides that one show is simply not enough. Mama wins, but not without a fight, and really is that any way to start your day?
2. Have an activity laid out the night before. We do art projects most days, but the nights I remember to have it prepared, the mornings are so much smoother. My son will wake up and immediately jump in his chair and say “What’s this? Can I make it?” and we start our day creatively!
3. Rotate your toys! Kids have way more than they need and are often overwhelmed by all of it being out. Limit the toys available and rotate to keep your kids interested in their toys. I have never had to throw a toy out because of lost parts, they stay in better condition too, so your child wants to play with them more as well.
4. Make or gather props for pretend play. We had fun with an elevator (paper with numbers on our family room wall), playing rock band (Swiffer) and lately it’s been all about the salvation army bell ringer (plastic tub and coins). No need to be elaborate, just create enough support for them to play!
5. Play music in the background, it calms, it inspires and dancing is good for everyone!
6. When your child does watch TV try to watch with them, make it as interactive as possible!