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How to Turn Passive TV Time into Learning Time

January 4, 2019

“When I get home, all I want to do is flop on the couch and veg out watching TV.”

We’ve all had days like that. Our kids have them, too. But as parents, we try our best to limit screen time and engage our children in other activities. When kid veg-out days happen, they can leave us feeling a little panicky!

Your child will not become a couch potato from one afternoon of cartoons on the couch. But in case panic begins to rise inside of you, there are a few things you can do to turn that passive TV veg out time into learning time...and your child won’t even realize it!

1. Watch with your child. Talk about the show as you watch together. Television can open important teachable moments about decision-making and problem-solving. It’s valuable to seize those moments as they come and help your child understand why a character made the choice that they did. Asking your child open-ended questions about the characters and plot not only activates their thinking skills, but also enhances the bond between you.

2. Choose educational material over run-of-the-mill TV shows. A television isn’t just for watching shows anymore. Smart TVs have the capabilities to do everything from displaying personal photos to running applications. The NoMeLoMe digital library can be accessed on Smart TVs, and contains hundreds of illustrated books that are enhanced with animations and sound to captivate young readers. Fun quiz games assess a child’s comprehension at the end of each story so you can see how well your child understands what is being read, but to them, it’s all just fun!

3. Make connections between the TV show and your child’s everyday life. Making connections is an important skill in developing reading comprehension. The ability to understand a story and see how aspects of it parallel one’s own life takes time to develop. As a parent, you can point out simple connections between your child and a favorite TV character. Perhaps they both enjoy baseball, or they both have a pet. Introducing a child to making connections during a favorite show builds the foundation for deeper reading comprehension skills later.

So the next time your child comes home from school, kicks off their shoes, and flops on the couch, join them! Talking as you watch together not only facilitates learning, it also shows your children that you are interested in what they think...and that is what is truly important!

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