The more prepared kids are when they enter kindergarten, the better. It breaks my heart when I see kids who are struggling to grasp basic concepts while the rest of the class forges ahead on a happy journey of learning and exploration. Entering kindergarten ready with a knowledge of the basics helps kids feel confident and mercifully spares them from the stress of trying to catch up.
What I am about to say may sound shocking, but TV time can actually help kids get ready for kindergarten. An easy way to help kids learn the basics is to make their TV time more productive by choosing programs that reinforce the concepts they are learning at preschool or at home. Preschoolers are lucky to have a veritable buffet of educational programming to choose from these days, and many shows actually employ learning specialists who advise the creators on how to best present educational material to kids. But, do kids actually learn from watching TV programs or DVDs?
Some research has shown that well-crafted educational programming can offer positive results for preschoolers. Of course, that’s not saying we should stick kids in front of the tube all day because it’s such a great teacher, but we can use a little bit of TV time as a fun tool to enhance preschool learning, especially if kids are already watching TV anyway. Here are a few examples of studies measuring the efficacy of TV programs and DVDs in teaching kids preschool and early elementary concepts:
- 30 years of research conducted by the Georgetown University early learning project reports that “Sesame Street has been successful in enhancing school readiness in young children.” Furthermore, “In a longitudinal study examining the long-term impact of preschool-aged viewing of Sesame Street, it was found that exposure to the program in the preschool years was significantly associated with secondary school achievement.”
- Recent studies assessing the success of the PBS TV series Super Why! in teaching children early literacy concepts “prove that children, especially those from low-income families, are learning core early literacy skills from the TV series and its educational support materials.”
- The Preschool Prep Company conducted a study to see if children were able to learn the alphabet just by watching their video “Meet the Letters.” Many children learned their letters in under two weeks.
Resources & Ideas
Most kids love watching TV – they identify with and get so excited about their favorite characters, and they love being transported to another world full of music, dancing, and often times a lot of silliness! – so we can use TV’s mesmerizing powers to our advantage. Such a wide variety of fun shows and DVDs are available, it’s easy to find something on just about any subject preschoolers might want to learn about.