Thursday, August 4, 2016

Why TV is good for kids

In case you thought you misread the title of this post, yes, it truly does say that TV is good for kids. Seriously.

Before having children of my own, I used to be one of those people who made statements such as:

"why would anybody let their kids watch an IPAD at dinner? That would be an excellent time to really have a conversation!'


" My kids are definitely never going to watch TV everyday. I'll have lots of stimulating activities planned."

Then... I had kids of my own, and while we do try to limit the amount of TV each day, I do see benefits of television for kids, even young ones.

1) Safety- Sometimes, parents have to do things such as shower, get ready or cook. TV is a sure-fire way to keep kids safe during these times. Turning on an episode of "Paw Patrol" buys me about 25 of time and I know Andrew is sitting calmly. But, can't he just color or play quietly with puzzles? Sure he can, and we use those too, but those often require help or he wants somebody to sit with him.

2) Restaurants- When we visit "Kid-friendly" restaurants (McDonalds, Anthony's Beach Café) we don't bring the IPAD. However, if we plan to dine for longer than half-hour and the restaurant lacks a play area or sandbox, a good show can be a lifesaver. Granted, we rarely visit fancier places with the kids, when we do, its a nice back-up plan to have.

2) Education- While our kids do watch shows, we do monitor (closely) what they watch. So, usually Daniel Tiger, Peppa, Sid the Science Kid or Paw Patrol. Andrew has honestly learned loads from these shows. He's learned about community and jobs from Paw Patrol and Daniel, science vocabulary from Sid and some cook British lingo from Peppa.

Sure, we could teach him these things ourselves, but it sure wouldn't be as entertaining! Plus, he has carried ideas from the show to real life. We conduct some of the same experiments he sees on Sid and have visited fire trucks and recycle trucks and compare them to the ones on Paw Patrol.

Not to mention, TV is part of pop culture. Already Andrew and his buddies comment on shirts kids are wearing (Frozen, Mickey, Paw Patrol, etc) just as my co-workers and I dish about the newest TV series we are into.  I don't want to raise social outcasts, Kidding. Sort of.

3) Behavior-  TV is one of the only ways we can calm down our super-active kid. Today, we attended a 3-hour gymnastics camp and was still wired this evening when we came home. After watching a show, he was relaxed and reading for books and bed. I liken it to how most adults unwind with a favorite series before bed.

Not only is TV calming, but it also provides many lessons on appropriate behavior. Daniel Tiger featured an episode on how having a baby sister can make things different, but fun at the same time. This also included a catchy song and it stuck with him way more than me yelling, "Andrew, let Taylor play too!"

So, yes, I agree that kids shouldn't just sit around watching random TV all day, it does have its place. I know that Pediatricians recommend no TV before two, and I have actually abided to that, but not for lack of trying. Andrew lacked the attention span to watch a show until around that age and Taylor seems to be following in his footsteps.

For now, kids shows are all we have on here, but I look forward to the days when they are a bit older and we can also have "Family Movie night" and watch favorite shows together. I love that families I know bond over Star Wars, Harry Potter, and that these are ways they connect.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

A toast to a great man...

Today I learned my co-worker and our friend passed away after a 12+ year battle with cancer. I have always thought that if you were prepared for somebody to go, it would be easier, especially if the person had already lived a long, full life. Not true.

While Carl lived to see his kids get married, take many amazing trips with his wife and meet all five of his grandchildren, it doesn't mean he won't be missed. For years, there were many health scares for Carl where he didn't think he would make it. I assumed this final time was the same. When his daughter told me things were not looking good, I figured I would get a call the next day informing me Carl had had improved and we could come and visit. Not this time, this time he was actually gone and I can't seem to shake the disbelief. 

I met Carl over 10 years ago, when he was the reason I was hired for my very first teaching job at Voyager Middle School. I was 23 and had only a one long-term teaching experience under my belt, no Masters degree and no extra certificates. Carl informed the committee he would like to team with me because I reminded him of both his past teaming partner (who moved) and his daughter (who is three days older than me). 

Until he retired last year, i had the privilege of teaching with him and getting to know both Carl and his family. My husband and I played on his softball team, went to his wine parties and he even read at our wedding. He was a special person in our family and we always looked forward to the times we spent with Carl. As a teacher, I've never met anybody who was so dedicated to his job. Even after he retired, when he was obviously run down, he continued to substitute in the building. Kids loved him, many asking to "TA" for him after they moved on to 7th and 8th grade. He was known for his sarcastic humor, passion for sports and myriad of ties- one for each day of the school year, plus some.

Carl has left a lasting impression in the minds and hearts of many co-workers, friends, students, and of course his family. He was so proud of of all his kids and grand-kids and talked about them often.  It will be incredibly difficult to return to work this fall and not hear his voice (literally, I could hear him teaching math lessons from down the hall) in the building. His absence will definitely be felt by all who knew him- and he was known by many.

So tonight, I'm drinking a nice glass of red wine in honor of Carl- because that is exactly what he would want everybody to be doing. Celebrating a life well lived.