No question at all, media and preschoolers don't always mix. But, because there are some redeeming qualities, here are a few tips to make the most of using TV and other media with preschoolers.
1. Insist on guided viewing where the parent or teacher watches the program with the preschooler. Guided viewing encourages interaction as questions arise in the child's mind while watching. As the parent or teacher watches with the preschooler, she may notice elements of a program that need to be pointed out or further explained.
2. Use TV as an educational tool. Instead of just entertainment, watch construction or "how it's made" videos. Educational shows are—well—educational, while other shows that are more for entertainment can decrease the ability of a child to have self-directed play and increase his need to be entertained by others.
3. Use media to introduce different cultures to preschoolers. As a young child begins to see similarities and differences between him and other people, a teacher or parent can take the time to discuss how God created all people.
4. Take virtual field trips to the zoo, to other countries, to a farm, and more! Through TV and video, preschoolers can have exposure to experiences that might not otherwise be available to them.
5. Set time limits and have a plan for what to do when not watching. Often times, even as adults, we watch TV out of boredom and lack of anything else to do. Plan for outside games, creative play, cooking together and other activities your child can do alone, with friends, or with you!
Parents are tired. Teachers are tired. We live crazy, hectic lives. But don't use that excuse for using media as a babysitter! In the blink of an eye, it will rob you and your kids of precious time—something you can never get back.
Klista Storts serves as an editorial ministry specialist for LifeWay Kids. She is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and has served in preschool ministry in Oklahoma and Tennessee. Klista has a passion for equipping leaders to share the love of Christ and lay foundations for conversion in the lives of kids.
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