Because we’re at home so much right now we’re limited on what we have available to teach our kids. Did you know you can be using your TV as a teaching tool? And not just educational shows, though those are amazing. Regular shows that your kids like to watch. I’ll show you how.
Using TV As A Teaching Tool
It’s no secret that I absolutely love TV shows. And movies too, but I really get into a good TV series. I even took a class in college on different forms of media and it was one of my favorite classes ever. You can turn ANY show or movie into a learning moment. Yes, even those pre-teen shows with the predictable plot lines and canned characters that drive you crazy but your 11 year old is obsessed with.
Let’s dive a little deeper into the differences between educational and entertainment TV , and how you can use both to educate your children.
Educational vs. Entertainment Shows
We know what an educational show is, and what an entertainment show is. The main point of an educational show is to teach something. It can be taught in a direct way, like on Blues Clues or on a historical documentary. It can also be taught in an indirect way, like behind the scenes zoo shows or cartoons like Dora the Explorer.
Entertainment shows, on the other hand, don’t claim to teach anything and are supposed to be there purely for entertainment. Reality TV , competition shows, drama series, or pretty much anything else that you’d tend to binge-watch.
Teaching With Educational Shows
Teaching your kids with educational shows is pretty self-explanatory. The show itself does the majority of the teaching, and our job is to reinforce the learning through other means. Educational shows for younger kids tend to provide a lot of spaced repetition of whatever fact they’re trying to teach. This means that just by watching kids can absorb and memorize the information. Also, they often include segments where they “speak” to your kids, encouraging active participation. If you’re trying to get some quiet time to focus on a work project, popping on an educational show is amazing.
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Teaching With Entertainment Shows
This can be a bit trickier, and requires more parental involvement. The lessons presented aren’t always clear, but so much can be learned from shows that are created just for entertainment value. For example, if you remember the show Boy Meets World, you know that Mr. Feeny ended up teaching a life lesson nearly every episode. If you watch if just for entertainment, you’d only see the story. If you watch it with an eye for what is being taught, you can learn life lessons AND other lessons pertaining to media, literature evaluation, and story production.
Printables to Help You
At the end of this post I’m going to share a bunch of printables that will help you a lot in using TV as a teaching tool. You can have your child learn how to write a thought out of review of the show. You also have a problem and solution worksheet that can help them figure out what is being taught in the story. I included a Draw and Write worksheet for the little ones. You can have them draw a picture from the story and write about their favorite part.
There’s also a worksheet for noting the setting, characters, props, and music used in the show. This is great for kids who are interested in a career in media in the future, as it helps them realize there’s so much more to a show than just the actors. Then I also have an approved show list so you don’t have to hear “can I watch this?” all the time. Plus an activity choice board that gives them a choice of “homework” for the show they just watched.
Anything Can Be A Lesson
During this time where we’re all having trouble just making sure to change out of our pajama pants, I want to remind you that you’re doing a good job. Even if your kid is watching 6 hours of tv a day while you’re working, it’s okay. You can turn it into an educational opportunity, even if it’s just them writing an alternate ending to the episode or playing dress up as their favorite character. Kids are feeling stressed now too, even if they don’t show it in the same way adults do. Give them an opportunity to learn in a different way, and they’ll do better too!