Sunday, February 7, 2010

Free for you!!!

This is the last installment in my series on healthy brain development for children in this hyper media focused world we live in!

Below I will list many, many ideas and strategies for you to use with your child, feel free to use them...frequently!

-Consider coming up with a TV budget, and sticking to it to reduce screen time in your child's life. It could be one hour of screen time per day in the evening after all homework and chores are complete, or it could be something like Monday-1 hr. of screen time, Tuesday-no screen time, Wednesday-1 hr. of screen time, etc.

-Keep their lives balanced. Do not make screen time the number one leisure activity of choice in your household. Teach and encourage many other interests and activities to promote healthy brain development throughout their childhood.

-Consider having no video or computer games available.

-If you choose to allow video and computer games, make strict rules about them.

-When allowing a child to watch TV, it is important to ask questions about that program before, during, and after. Ex: Why do you want to watch that show so much? What do you hope to learn from it? What will it teach you? What's fun about that show? What will happen next? Who is your favorite character? Why? Give your child time to think. If they say they don't know, model an appropriate answer that will give them something to think about.

-Stay away from violent programming, video games, and computer games. Ask yourself what is the message you are sending by making violence children's amusement?

-Keep your child's bedroom TV free.

-Choose educational programs (TV, videos and computer games).

-If your child is watching a movie, encourage them to move in between the movie, during commercials, etc. This will cut down on the increased hyperactivity that they will experience after viewing. When the movie is over, encourage them to do something creative, act out a scene in the movie, create a character from the movie out of play doh.

-Talk about real and pretend. Ask lots of questions, like "Is ....real?" Discuss the concept of actors.

-Allow for boredom. This is a good thing! Present two activities for them to do, give your child time to make a decision, this teaches them to look within, and begin to draw out their interests.

-Make books fun! My 3 yr. old was not interested in books at all. She is also a very busy little girl. She has trouble sitting still, and has no interest in TV viewing either. I started having her sit in a chair with a book for quiet time at the beginning of this school year. She wasn't happy at first, but I began to reward her quiet body, and-quiet voice with my time! I would then sit down and read the book to her, and since she was so unhappy sitting there alone with the book, she was very excited when I would sit down with her! She now will go get books on her own, and has worked up to 30 min. of quiet time that she puts herself in! She is loving books now!

-Remember that video games and watching movies won't help children learn to pay attention. Little ones learn to pay attention when they are shown how to sit down and work on puzzles, color a picture, or engaging in imaginative play.

-Video games and computer games are addictive. The younger you start allowing your children to play these games, and more they will want this as part of their lives. Hold out until the child is 10-12 if possible, and parents will make their lives a lot easier and the child will become a much more self directed, creative person.

-Instead of plopping your baby in front of the TV to watch those DVD's with mozart music playing along, it is much healthier to place your baby in a high chair, give him a cracker, play classical music in the background, and talk to him. I cringe each and every time I get a one year old placed on my caseload and I start asking the parents what interests their baby has, and all they can come up with is "oh, he loves to watch___, and he also watches____over and over, he loves it!" This tells me that this baby is not getting enough brain stimulation.

-Give your child art supplies, play doh, water color paints, finger paints, markers, stamps, stickers, etc. Ask them to paint you a scene, then frame it on the wall.

-Let your children make up their own recipes and help them print them on a recipe card then assist them in the kitchen putting together their concoction.

-Let them listen to a story on CD.

-Let them dust, vaccuum, wash windows, little children love to help!

-Have an indoor picnic

-Have an indoor tea party

-Keep the TV off when a show or movie is over.

-Create the family meal table. Eat around a table instead of around the TV. Ask questions of each child like "What was the high point of your day?" "What was the low point?" "What did you learn today?" "Did you see any special friends today?"

-Use the library. We typically access our local library about once a month. My 8 yr. old literally squeals with delight when I mention that we are going!

-Send the kiddos outside! My girls are into digging for rolly polly bugs at this point, but you could also send them on a hunt for smooth rocks, rocks with heart shapes, 4 leaf clovers, berries, leaves of all kinds, etc.

-Dance! We got rid of our living room coffee table over a year ago. I wanted to make room for dancing since we have music on all the time. It has been the best decision! Not only do we dance and exercise, but we also have room to play with the baby, make forts, and play games!

-Play dress up. We have an old suitcase just full of dress up clothes, and they love it!

-Give them a tape measure, ask them to go around and measure things.

-Tell your kids to make up a new game like playing animal hospital, school, pet store, or restaurant. My girls are really into playing "Daycare" right now, and I am the mommy that drops off the 3 yr old and the baby, and my 8 yr old is Miss Julie. She has a sign on her door that says "Miss Julie's daycare" She has me drop them off and pretend I am heading off to work. She then takes care of them, and has snack time, play time, nap time, etc. They love it.

-Bubbles and flashlights are a must. Every child I know will entertain themselves for long periods of time with these items.

-Sensory tubs. Fill plastic tubs with soapy water and food coloring, or popcorn kernals, rice, beans, birdseed, corn meal. Let them get messy!!!

-Play I spy

-Come up with a nonsense word, then make up a meaning for it.

-Play hide & seek

-Pack a bag game-start with a letter "A" item, then down the alphabet, then have them show you what they packed.

-Singing, song time. Teach a new song every few weeks.

-Go on nature walks.

-Go to the human society and walk a puppy.

-Write letters to friends and family and send in the mail.

-Teach a child to knit.

-Teach a child to sew.

-Go to the park

-Give your child a magnifying glass.

-volunteer at a nursing home.

-Do chores for people who can't do them for themselves.

-Have your children help you prepare a meal to deliver to someone in need.

There are so many more, but this is just a partial list to help you get started, and begin enjoying new and creative activities with your child in place of the TV and computer. What a wonderful world of fun you will have together with your child and when you look back you and your child will be so happy with all the memories you have made!


Jill said...

Thank you Michelle. :)

Anonymous said...

This has been an absolutely brilliant series. I think one thing I struggle with is having a tv I turn it on daily - mostly for the news, cooking shows or a good drama at the weekends. But, I really don't want tv to be a daily part of my children's lives, so have to lead by example and cut out even the educational stuff daily and focus on switching on once or twice a week. In this season of my life I have to admit I find this tough, but certainly something to work on.

I know several families who don't really have tv or have one but it isn't part of their lives. What I love about it, is their viewing is so rare - probably not more than once a week, they say their kids don't even remember to ask or show much interest. They do probably watch a movie and maybe a show or two over the space of a month, but at ages 16, 12 and 8 it just isn't part of their lives. Everyone else I know who doesn't do tv, still has dvd's/movies several times a week, and often say they still find their kids ask/beg/desire to watch.

I think, if you have a tv, one of the big things is where you place it. I've always had a tv in the main living/family room, which means a lot more viewing since it is there. I would much prefer not to have one in the hub of the home.

I will never never never understand the tv in a child's bedroom idea, here it is seen as a very very very "low class" thing to do yet I know across the Western world it is very very common. Sad really.

My hope is to not use the tv at all as a method of being able to get things done - that seems to be when people I know have started, using it during the toddler years so they can cook etc and instead include my children, set up activities like play doh in my view etc. Then to introduce things like animal programs, Anne of Green gables etc at age appropriate intervals with it being only a part of a weekly routine - maybe Sunday evening period dramas/series not a part of our daily routine. I hope it works!

Thanks so much for sharing all your knowledge, experience and wisdom!

Wife to the Rockstar said...

Loads of GREAT info here and excellent tips and advice!

Dalyn (AKA The Queen of Quite Alot) said...

great idea Michelle!
Hey, we have turned in our paperwork and are on fingerprinting already *U* yay! It's going quickly!

Tereasa said...

What a great list! You had a few ideas I've never thought of. Thanks for posting!