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Education Via TV Can Work For Toddlers

Updated on August 24, 2013

Benefits of TV for Toddlers

There is a great deal of debate on whether or not it's ok to let your child watch TV or how much TV you should allow. In most cases, it's really up to the parents and depends on the child. In my house, the TV is on pretty much anytime we are in the house.

My daughter is one and a half. She's been watching TV shows for most of her little life. Has she been watching it 24/7? No, but the TV is on in the background while we are inside and not out and about at a play date or two.

TV can teach your toddler about different topics and subjects in life. You don't have to allow your child to watch every show on TV, in fact, I'm not saying that's a good idea. However, you can have a rule that your child can only watch TV shows that will teach them something. That's the rule we have.

So far, our child has learned:

  • Motor skills: wave, jump, spin, dance, and point,etc
  • Words: Yes, Huzzah, Jump, Ball, Dog, Hat, etc
  • Animal Sounds: Horse, Monkey, Cat, Dog, Bird, Chicken(complete with arm flaps), Duck

On top of learning new things, sometimes watching TV sparks an interest in 'unplugged' activities and fostered creativity and imagination.

The main thing to remember is that the TV is not the babysitter for your toddler, but it can be a helpful tool. Most beneficial if you are watching with your child and helping and engaging in the learning. Children are more interested in things that you are interested in, especially toddlers because they want to earn your approval. Making a game of learning is easy with TV shows to help facilitate the ideas and imagination.

What's Your Favorite Channel To Use For Your Children?

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Which Channels Do We Prefer?

There are several different channels that you can use for educational purposes for your child. The channel numbers will depend on your local stations and your cable provider.

If you don't have more than standard cable or basic cable, the best channel to start with is Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). PBS is known for their education and developmental shows for all ages. In the mornings they are very good at keeping children entertained while teaching them valuable skills and lessons.

If you want to pay for more services, which we have done, you can also use Nick Jr. (Not Nickelodeon) for your toddler and Disney Jr. The regular channels of these Jr. channels are geared towards older kids and tweens, so make sure you are using the Jr. version. They have great TV shows with songs and education that is engineered specifically for younger children to grow and learn.

You can also use resources like YouTube, educational DVDs and Netflix for some shows for more purposes and places to look for your child's education before school age and helping to facilitate your teaching of value tools. Use these resources to help you, in addition to your attention, you are sure to have a winning combination when getting your child's attention and fueling their desire to learn.

Our Top Four Shows For Toddlers

So, if you are like me and you parent as you see fit for your child, you can make the decision yourself. I am not advocating that my way is the "right" way. I am advocating that my way has worked for my child and she's a pretty smart cookie at a year and a half. So, while we may disagree on certain parenting styles, I only present another side and another way to foster learning and development in your child.

If you want to try it out, here are the ten shows I recommend for children 12-24 months old.

  1. Sid The Science Kid - PBS - Sid the Science Kid is only a half hour, but it's packed full of great science and learning for kids. The songs about all sorts of things captures the interest of small children who thrive on music. Once it has their attention, it will engage them in all sorts of subjects as the children from the show are taught to explore and ask questions and get the answers through educational, scientific ways with their teacher. It shows children there are others like them and gives them questions to ask and experiments to try for any given topic.
  2. Team Umizoomi - Nick Jr. - This show covers great math skills for little children. It's a great resource for shapes and measurements for kids. It's colorful and engaging with songs and puzzles to make math fun. It's a great way to allow kids to to learn math and they don't even know it. If you want to help your child learn shapes and counting this is the show to use. The characters are playful and fun to watch while teaching great lessons that your kids aren't aware they are learning.
  3. Dora The Explorer - Nick Jr. - Dora is a great little character for the children to learn all sorts of things in two different languages. Dora teaches the kids to be kind to others and helps solve problems while dropping in a few Spanish words and phrases. It is pretty darn awesome to see Dora say "Salto" and your daughter jumps! It's pretty cool to say the least. So, if you are looking for an easy and fun way to teach your child Spanish, recruit this adorable adventurer, Dora and her good friend Boots the monkey.
  4. Super Why! - PBS - The Super Readers are always looking for new ways to tackle challenges like sharing and tantrums and eating your vegetables. The characters on this show use books and stories to decipher what to do in many different situations. This is a unique way for children to learn the lessons in life, all the while learning to read as well. The characters take a problem that needs to be solving and they find a related book to go with the lesson. With animation, song, and reading lessons, these characters learn what different words mean and how to handle each situation with built in stories and lessons.

At the End Of the Day

Realistically, at the end of the day, it's best to take your best judgement. With all things in parenting, we don't get a manual. We can parent based of research and media and other moms. At the end of the day, we need to parent for our family and our children.

So, if you want to keep your children away from TV, definitely you can. It's your child and your family.

However, if you would like to try and use TV as an additional learning tool. You can use it as a teaching tool and a spark of interest in your toddler. TV doesn't have to be a bad thing. You can also find a great way to use the TV shows listed here in limited quantities. You can make sure to pick rules and guidelines that work for your family and your child.

In the end, it's your decision. This was mine, hopefully it will help those out there looking for another creative outlet for their children other than mindless TV shows.


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    • Mai-Kera profile image

      Kerahian 3 years ago from West Virginia

      Great article! I have a 4-year old and a 2-year old. My 4 year old has cerebral palsy and is struggling with verbal communication. I'm also an advocate of TV, as it helps her with her words. I don't actually have TV, I have Netflix. My children are big advocates of Sesame Street. They sing the songs, they know their alphabet and numbers to 20. While my children learn from Sesame Street, I have captions running to help them with reading. I think it's also quality watching as opposed to just watching CSI or Big Bang Theory. Children are going to be exposed to TV, and the content they watch needs to be controlled. Again, thank you for bringing the benefits to light!

    • rgarnett profile image

      Rachael Fields 3 years ago from KC, MO

      Absolutely, @Mai-Kera. I'm glad this hub resonated with you and your family. I really like hearing about other people's experiences and thoughts on things. Thanks for reading and commenting!

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