I have a wonderful, inquisitive, imaginative, experimenting 4 year-old. In many ways we have gone against what seems to be main stream parenting today.
We are raising him free-range, which means something totally different than for a chicken. How that looks changes from week to week as he is growing. Last year I wouldn’t have let him play outside in our backyard by himself, this year I don’t always know whether his inside or out at any given moment. But, this year, he has proven himself trustworthy and stays in our yard. We live in the corner of an L shaped street in a very quiet little town.
I feed him mac and cheese for breakfast because he’s not a big breakfast foods person. Frankly, all three of us would rather have breakfast food for dinner than first thing in the morning. The mac and cheese is a step up from the carnation instant breakfast. From 18 months until he asked for mac and cheese that was all I could get him to do for breakfast. I can’t tell you how much food we threw away until I figured that out. Some days it’s not mac and cheese, it’s a hamburger. Works for him, protein.
But the TV thing. I know that everyone else is trying to move away from electronics for the young. My question is, WHY? We live in an electronic society. We are not going to wake up tomorrow and hot have computers or cell phones or any of the other gadgets we’ve come to rely on. Why would we not teach our children to navigate in that world? One hundred years ago, children were taught to ride horses because that was the normal mode of transportation. While I’m not suggesting putting a 4-year-old behind the wheel of a car, I do explain the rules of the road and why I do certain things while I’m driving.
My son has his own smart phone. It is not connected to a phone number, but daddy puts games and movies on it at home and when we are out I give him his phone and child headset with volume limiter on it and he entertains himself for how ever long I need to do whatever it is we are doing. Doctor appointment, car repair, chatting with a friend, shopping. He knows how to turn it on, navigate between games and we are teaching him how to get to his movies.
Television for children seems to be another of those dividing topics. Many limit the time with timers for the day or week. Some banish it completely and talk of not allowing technology to babysit and we should engage our child every moment with teaching games. I disagree, vehemently!
I do not want a child that cannot engage himself in play. I have other things that must be done, housework, cooking. And things I need to do to maintain myself, reading my Bible, quilting, reading for enjoyment, last but not least, talking with my spouse.
Our house TV rules are pretty non-existent. There are days the TV is on all day. There are days it’s off all day. We do not have cable but we do torrent downloads on the xBox and we have a roku with Netflix instant watch. Most often The Boy asks for Mythbusters or Dirty Jobs. He will watch the same episode all day and run around recreating what he was with his legos and hotwheels. Not only does he recreate their experiments but he also makes up his own. I’d say that’s educational.
As far as the Dora, Diego, Backyardagians, Land Before Time, Disney movies type of stuff, I say it’s also learning. Dora and Diego teach counting, spelling, spanish, teamwork, and many other traits I approve of. Backyardagians, if you haven’t seen it, is my favorite for teaching imagination. It’s 5 cartoon animals that all live on one block and meet up in the large area where all their yards intersect. They then negotiate what scenario they are going to imagine and play in that day, from outer space to the old west, then after the “game” is done, they all go to one house for a snack. The music is great and the dialog and vocabulary wonderfully non-condecending. The Boy will appropriately use words well above his age level and I will recognize that he learned it from Backyardagians.
Some days he stays in the family room watching TV and playing with his toys all day. Now that it is summer, he usually runs in and out between the TV and his sandbox. Yesterday he did just that, watched some Mythbusters and used his legos to build what he saw, then went out in his sandbox and did his experiments.
I think that’s wonderful. And I know it Works For My Family.
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