The television and computer can be great teaching tools for your child if you connect what your child sees on them to real life experiences. You can also teach your child good T.V. viewing habits and computer skills.
Family Photos. Toddlers love to look at photos of people they know. If you save family photos on the computer, look at them with your child. “Who’s that?” Wait for your child to respond and then follow up. “That’s Grandma with your cousins Billy and Mary!” Point to the people in the photo as you name them. Your child will want to look at the pictures again and again.
What’s that? Images on T.V. can be confusing for young children. Scenes change quickly and sometimes children need help to understand the story. When your child watches a show, help her connect characters and events. For example, you may say “There’s that monkey again.” Connect each event to things that already happened. For example, you may say “He’s the one that took the balloons and caused all that trouble!” Then wonder about what will happen next, for example, “I wonder what trouble he’s going to get into now?”
What Was It About? After your child watches a T.V. show, talk about it. “Did you like that show?” “What did you like/not like? Summarize what happened on the show for your child. “Remember how the monkey dug a hole and then the hat fell in?” Share your own feelings about it. “That was funny!”
Numbers. The remote control for the T.V. has numbers on it and so does the computer keyboard. Use these items to help your child recognize numbers in a meaningful way. For example, when his favorite show is on T.V. he can help you find the correct channel number on the remote control.
What Happens Next? Make a plan with your child for T.V. watching. Connect this plan to other events in his day and introduce words that describe time. For example tell him “First, we are going to the grocery store. Next we are going to eat lunch. Then you can watch your favorite T.V. show. After that, we are going to turn off the television and go to the park.”
What Was It About? After your child watches a T.V. show, talk to him about it. What was his favorite part? Who was his favorite character? Help your child relate the story to his own life. “Did something like that ever happen to you?” “Did you feel the same way the character on the show did?” and “Did you do the same thing the character in the show did, or did you do something different?” Remember to give your child plenty of time to think about the questions.
What’s That Letter? You can use the computer keyboard and a word program to help your child learn letters and letter sounds. Remind your child that on the computer the letters are all mixed up. They are not in the same order as in the alphabet. Help him find the letters in his name. Then encourage him to type his name one letter at a time. Remind him to be gentle when he pushes the keys. Then you can let him experiment with typing on his own.
Make a T.V. Schedule. Help your child make a plan for television viewing. First, decide what shows your child can watch. Then tell your child that together you can make a television schedule. Explain that a schedule tells you when something happens. Remind her of other schedules she has seen, like bus schedules. Give her paper and markers or crayons. Review the shows she can watch. Invite her to write down the name of each show, what channel it is on, and what time it is on. Then hang the schedule up next to the television.
What Was It About? After your child watches a T.V. show or movie, talk to her about the story. “What happened at the beginning?” and “What happened at the end?” Give your child plenty of time to think about these questions and give clues to help her remember. Did she like the way the show ended? Why or why not? If she could change the ending how would she change it? Give her paper and markers or crayons and she can write her own story.
Where Can I Find It? The internet has many educational sites for children. Teach your child to use the computer as a resource, a place to find information she needs or wants. Is she interested in sports, animals, or people in other countries? Help her choose an interest, and then use a search engine like google.com to help her find some information for children on that topic.