Parenting Raising kids Raising Readers

Ok, don’t turn the TV off…but maybe turn the channel

As a first time parent back in 2009, I of course tried to not allow my infant daughter to sit in front of the TV. I remember my mother laughing at me because I would turn my 2 month old around every time her barely stable head would turn toward the television, convinced that even a few seconds of her staring at the screen would cause serious damage. Now eventually, after a few years and a second child, I came to realize that if I wanted a few minutes to myself (don’t judge me), I actually could get them if I turned on one of their favorite shows.

Now, I do try my best to monitor what they watch, and there are some shows they don’t watch, such as SpongeBob Squarepants, mostly because I once read an article that basically said watching that show made preschoolers lose brain cells. That I can’t have. So like many other kids their age, they spend much of their TV time watching the Sprout and Disney Jr, with a little PBS thrown in as well.

One of my kids’ favorite shows is Disney’s The Lion Guard, a TV show series that is an extension of the classic movie The Lion King, with cameos from many of the characters in the original movie. So, when my son got his new book in the mail from National Geographic Little KIDS, he instantly made this connection to my husband:


“Dad, it’s like Timon from The Lion Guard!”  Yep, that’s the Timon of “Hakuna Matata” fame.

So as I’ve shared before , I’m all about the connections my kids can make with books, especially when I don’t force the connection. So this made me really happy, but just as exciting was when they read the book before bed that evening…

Daughter: “I wonder what meerkats eat?”

Son: “I know what they eat, ’cause on The Lion Guard Timon eats bugs!”

Dad turns the page of the book and guess what? Meerkats eat insects! Who knew?

Now if that doesn’t make me say “Hakuna Matata”!

As an educator, I’ve known for a while that what happens at home can greatly help or hurt a child’s progress at school and that the better a child’s background knowledge and vocabulary the better head start they have. Once I became a parent though, I realized just how easy it could be to help kids get that head start by doing things like talking to them about the different vegetables in the grocery store or reading to them each night. But, as I said earlier, I also understand how difficult it can be to get things done with a crying infant or a preschooler begging for your attention.

So what I’m suggesting from my attempt at raising readers is that if you really want to do laundry solo or read a magazine uninterrupted, just make sure to turn the TV channel to Wild Kratts or Doc McStuffins, or apparently even The Lion Guard before you start.  Just think, you will be helping your child make connections and grow as a reader in ways you don’t even realize and getting the dishes washed at the same time!

*Side note: recently, a student was reading a book about an aquarium to me at work and we were working on the word tentacles and then discussed how they were attached to jellyfish and they sting. He then said to me, “Yeah, ’cause on Spongebob the jellyfish can sting…”. Maybe its not so bad? Mmmm…




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