No DVD Please
By Laura Hickman
Guest Author – Laura Hickman lives in Linden, VA and is a homeschool mom of 4 children, aged 6-12. She graduated from The George Washington University in 1992 with a degree in Business Administration and a minor in Psychology. She is an aspiring Equine Specialist and hopes to have her own farm in the near future.
Four years ago, we decided it was time to purchase a new vehicle for our family of six. After weeks of researching the type of vehicle, it was time to negotiate price and options! There were only two things I knew I had to have, and one of them, to the astonishment of our dealer, was NOT a DVD player!
With four active kids “test driving” each car in the showroom, our salesman must have thought we’d lost our minds! After all, weren’t TV the greatest babysitter and bearer of peace known to parent-kind? Conceptually, I’d have to agree. Television IS a convenient device for the tired and mentally weary parent. And maybe, even more so for the tired, weary, home school parent of multiple children!
Obviously, there are good, wholesome educational programs available. But if we are constantly plugging our children into a TV, or any electronic device for that matter, what are we teaching them? What are they missing?
I contend that we are teaching them at least two things. First, we are teaching them to just do the easy thing. Reading, thinking and communicating are work! A child has to not only learn to decode 26 symbols in a dizzying number of combinations, but he or she has to put those seemingly random combinations into context, and finally, they have to take the context of the material and apply it to themselves. “What does this mean to me?” With TV, all the work is done for them. They are told what the pictures are and what the information should mean to them. The TV becomes their source of truth, rather than mom and dad.
Secondly, I believe we are teaching them that they are not worthy of our investment. As parents we are all tired at the end of the day. Whether we spent the day in the workforce, or whether we spent the day educating our own children at home. We are not as young as we used to be and constantly answering questions and repeatedly disciplining for the same behavior is mentally exhausting. We want ‘mommy time’!
There is a time and a place for ‘mommy time’, (or ‘daddy time’ as the case may be) but as with all things, it must be in balance with our responsibilities as parents
As we are driving along, I grab the disk case, slide the disk into the player and breathe a deep sigh of relief as peace settles over the van. Another audio-book begins to work its magic.
‘An audio-book?’ you question. You’d be surprised how well they will capture the attention of your children. Not only will you experience peace and quiet as they are drawn into the story, but your kids will benefit as well. There have been many a time when my youngest boy garnered praises from complete strangers. The first time was just before he turned 4. The Staples employee, with whom he had struck up a conversation, could not believe he was able to have such a coherent conversation at age 3!! I think he must have been explaining centrifugal force (his favorite conversation starter at the time).
Does this mean we never watch movies in the van? Of course not! But we do limit it to long trips (more than 2 hours), and we limit the number of movies allowed. But by not having a permanent DVD player in the van it is much less tempting for me to give into their desire to watch TV wherever we go!!
- Preschoolers watching WAY too much TV (msnbc.msn.com)
- Preschoolers Watching Too Much TV (livescience.com)
- DVDs don’t turn toddlers into vocabulary Einsteins (sciencenews.org)
- Watching in-car films can ‘damage child’s language skills ‘http://bit.ly/d8qedt
- Jean Gross’ Survey on speech and language difficulties http://bit.ly/cJHKS5