Nicole, Queen's Square | May 19, 2017
When I’m home with my kids, often I spend my days holding onto the acceptable limit of ‘screen time’ as a coveted resource – I don’t want to use it too early in the day, because then it’s gone and I can never get it back (am I alone in that??) Usually I save that coveted time for between 4-5 pm, when I’m attempting to make dinner and the kids are tired and cranky.
I was so happy when, a few months ago, I realized that there were other forms of media that I wasn’t using to help entertain my kids when I needed to get something done. We often only think of two mediums – TV or books. And while both of these have their merits, there are so many other options that can be not only entertaining for kids, but also educational and effective!
Remember that it’s important to set limits on your child’s consumption of screens – see the recently updated statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Here are some ideas:
Audiobooks and Books on CD
We highlight a number of our favourite books for kids of all ages in our booklists. But, did you know that you can also get audiobooks for kids? I felt like it was a huge ‘ah-ha’ moment for me when I realized that I could download audiobooks onto my phone, and then play them for kids when we’re waiting somewhere, when in the car, or even at home when kids are bored and I’m doing dishes. You can also get many books on CD. With my three-year old, I’ve had a lot of success with audiobook versions of the Magic Tree House series, the Mercy Watson series, and Dr. Seuss books. Another great source to check out, which highlights the importance of reading to your kids (and audiobooks count!) is the Read Aloud Revival
Recently, I’ve discovered podcasts, and I love them so much. I love to listen to them while driving to work, and feel like I’m multi-tasking – learning + driving! So, when I found some decent kids podcasts, I was really happy. We haven’t tried tons, but so far my kids have enjoyed:
- Brains On and Tumble – science podcasts for kids
- But Why? – a podcast answering kid’s questions.
- Disney Stories Podcast – the ability to stream and download any Disney story anytime? Sign me up!
This is an area that I haven’t learned much about, but I’ve found myself using more often, especially when my preschooler asks questions that I want to give visual answers to – How does milk come out of a cow? How does the earth revolve around the sun? How does my body make poop? I have started to bookmark YouTube channels that do a good job of presenting factual information in an engaging, effective, and succinct way. Some channels that I follow currently are Crash Course Kids and Kids Learning Tube.
Oh, apps. There are SO many available, and I personally feel overwhelmed when I scroll to the ‘kids’ section of the Apps store. This media, again, is a screen, so apps are not something kids should be spending hours using each day. However, I subscribe to the theory that if my kids are going to get screen time, I would like it to be somewhat educational - so I try to find apps that are teaching them something. Here are some of the winners in my house (keep in mind these are geared towards preschool and young elementary aged kids):
These are only a few options – with the Internet, parents today literally have MILLIONS of options of interesting media for theirs kids to enjoy. However, I know that often the challenge isn’t finding the media – it is finding things that are decent. Common Sense Media is a great resource for providing information about developmentally appropriate media for kids of all ages and stages.
What is your favourite media to use with your kids? Do you also have all of the Paw Patrol characters (and their catch phrases) memorized, and are longing to find other options for your kids?