More Than Just TV

Matthew has been really off lately -- I have some ideas why, but they don't really matter.  What matters most is getting him back in the swing of things (routine!) and keeping him from winding up too far.  One of the ways I am doing this, is remembering to take quiet time. Reading, trains, and TV are all good ways to stop moving and regroup. 

I wrote this last summer, and I have gone back to read it again myself, in order to keep fresh ideas for Matt and I, and to turn our TV watching into something useful for him.  So, I am posting it again today, because it is a good reminder to all of us that our little ones often need as much down time as busy time.  Maybe TV can double as a little light therapy too?! 

Here ya go!  Please feel free to add your fave TV shows (and why) at the bottom of this post.

Assuming you are all not TV Nazis, and have learned the value of some "quiet time" with a heavy blanket (or not) in front of the boobtube for your kiddos, these are some of my favorites. Grab your Tivo remote we are in for a bumpy summer ride and you'll need backup:

Special Agent OSO (Playhouse Disney): I know you are thinking "no way", but hear me out. This relatively new show stars Sean Astin, from the Lord Of The Rings movie series, as a sun bear (I think) with a James Bond flair. He goes around with "special assignments" solving problems for regular kids all around the globe. Why is it on my list? Executive Skills and Motor Planning. Yep, that is the theme of every mission: Find the problem, break it down with steps and accomplish your goal. From cleaning a child's room to making a salad to learning hop scotch this little Double-O-Bear is teaching something much more valuable than the ABCs.

Discovery Kids Ultimate Guide To The Awesome: This is a great show, 1 hour long, for kids that are into "facts". The series focuses on one topic (from the sun to Whales and everything in between) and delves into the facts and science of each thing. My little fact obsessed babies just thrive on the information provided--and the ability to regurgitate it at will for an impressed audience.

Pinky Dinky Doo (Noggin): If you haven't seen this, you are seriously missing out. Pinky Dinky Doo is a fantastic show that stars a girl that makes up stories. The songs are addicting "Pinky's got a story she wants to share with you..." and the vocabulary building words are great. That said, the true star of this show are the games at the end. Yes, at the end of the show they play video-style games that engage the audience into remembering the story in detail: who said what, what order things happened in, and practicing using the new vocab. Wonderful.

Dora The Explorer (NickJr): Cliche as it may be, there is a reason Dora has been so successful. There is great benefit to making a plan and sticking to it: just ask Map. Our kids thrive on the knowledge of what comes next, and of course, so does Dora. It also helps with Executive Planning skills: how will we solve this problem? What are the steps to get where we want to go? Showing our kids that things can be broken down is a valuable skill. This is a no-brainer for quality TV in my book.

Word World (PBS Kids): This new show has taken the toys aisle by storm. I am guessing you've seen it, but really, have you watched it? I am fascinated by how the animators get those letters shaped into characters, but what I really love about it is that it shows our WHOLE WORLD in words. There is such a strong belief in early education that words have to be incorporated into our children's worlds for them to truly make the connection (think how everything in a preschool setting is labeled: colors, shapes, calendars, even "door" or "rug" have tags), this takes it to another level. This shows how there are letters associated with everything in our environment. Excellent for our kiddos!

The Backyardigans (NickJr.): This is probably one of those shows you have seen already. But take another look; those characters are so easily relatable to our kids. It shows social skills at play, in their backyard, where kids are cooperatively making a game out of what may appear to be totally different ideas. Yet, they are playing together. Example would be Movers of Arabia where two characters are movers and two are playing Aladdin (basically). Another example would be the Snow Fort where two (boys) are playing snow fort, and the girls are playing Snow Patrol -- they end up playing together, but still playing their own game. These are great examples of sharing control of play during a play date. Huge social skills building here. It also encourages kids to use their imaginations--have independent and elaborate dramatic play scenarios, which at our house often extend far beyond the TV and into our real play. Prompting like, "Play Backyardigans Queen of the Nile" and all of the neighborhood kids know just what to do: rules and all. Add to that great music and hysterical dance scenes and you have a winner.

The Magic School Bus (PBS): This is also one of those things that you have seen, and your kiddo has seen in school. But it has great information, and some great examples of cooperation. Because the show has so many characters, they are constantly agreeing and disagreeing, as well as learning how things work together. We LOVE the shark episode where they introduce "symbiotic" relationships; we use that word in our life as a way for our kids to work together--being symbiotic means that each of you benefits in some way from the relationship. Great for my little fact finders as a push for peace in the house. The show has lots of good information, and it is something I feel pretty good about my kids watching.

Now--go grab those remotes and start recording!


Patty O. said...

We aren't TV Nazis, but we do limit is a lot. We have noticed that TV actually riles my son up. While he's watching, he is like a zombie, but afterwards, he can get really aggressive and sometimes even mad. I don't know why, but I have noticed that it is worse during action movies or cartoons or ones where there is a lot of noise.

Luckily, it seems to be lessening, but still we are careful. He is on a huge "Thomas" kick and that one is pretty low-key and relaxing. Danny also loves "Wall-E" which is nice because it's relatively quiet.

BTW, I still want to write a review of your book, but now I can't find it. My son saw it and started reading/looking at it and made off with it. He really likes it, which is a great endorsement in itself. Once I find where he has stashed it, I'll sneak it away from him so I can finish reading it.

Hartley said...

Hi Patty O.

The reason your son acts like that after TV is because he gets too 'low' -- don't mistake that for High.

While watching TV kiddos like ours tend to 'shut down' their other senses, getting full engrossed in only visual/auditory (hence noiser shows make it worse), and then their proprioceptive and vestibular are low -- forcing them to be out of sync, hyper, run around, crash, or even hit to get what they need.

We rectify this with a heavy blanket and/or squeeze ball and sometimes I even make Gabriel jump on the trampoline while he watches.

Keeping more sense engagged during the show will prevent him from getting too low.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on my book!

Chynna said...

LOVE Special Agent OSO (one of our favs). We also tune into Super Why and the Imagination Movers. My kids ALL love movement (especially Xander and Jaimie) they love dancing with the Movers. And OF COURSE, Jaimie's absolute ALL TIME fav is The Wiggles (she likes Greg tho so we mostly watch our videos rather than the new tv shows.)

We don't watch alot of tv but sometimes these shows really help Jaimie when she's 'up' then we do the weighted blanket/lap cozy to give her the other stimulation when she's 'low' so she doesn't go bizerko after the show from not moving for a while.

GREAT post. =)


Anonymous said...

I haven't seen these on our PBS station lately, but Cyberchase, Zoom, and Between the Lions are wonderful. Cyberchase has lots of math and problem solving. I know you can get it on itunes. Zoom had a little bit of everything, but the kids loved it. Between the Lions was all about reading, and I know my 5 year old would love it right now.

Jack's Big Music Show on Noggin was good. I don't know if that can be found on DVD or if we just have to wait for another round of reruns.


Stacey,momof 2 said...

My kids are both in grade school one is in first and the other is in third-- we don't have cable so we just have attena TV-- If the kids are watching cartoons- we like most of the OPB shows,the "new" Electric company is FUN-- Word Girl and Word World are still fun for my kids-- I recently found a cartoon about the senses-- Noonbry 7 here's a recent post about it~

Alysia said...

We've recently re-discovered "The Backyardigans" - it has become our new nighttime routine (showers, one episode while in body sock, then snuggles for bed). It wasn't until recently that I understood the appeal of the show for my son - it is always the same: they are in the backyard, start a pretend adventure, get hungry, end adventure, and go have a snack. Each episode is the same, and the predictibility is perfect for him.

We're also fans of the PBS series Curious George (and have implemented some of the science stuff they do into our activities) and the new Nick Jr. show "Team Umizoomi". While I find it somewhat irritating, it teaches spatial concepts, detective skills, and critical thinking (in a much less annoying way than Dora does :-) At the doc for his 4 yr old checkup, the nurse showed my son a moon shape for his eye exam and asked him what it was. He shouted "A crescent!!". Thanks, Team Umizoomi!


The Gaf said...

Word World and Backyardigans are great.

You should also check out Jack's Big Music Show. My son loves it.

Can I also add the old stand-by, Sesame Street? Still the gold standard. Its does everything in one show.

Totally agree about the other senses- we always make sure he has one of his chewy "P & Qs" (BUY THOSE!!!!) at minimum

Heather B said...

We love Word World, Super Why, Sid the Science Kid and many of the others you listed:)

We take time out on the Wii as well. It's a great way to keep moving, do some problem solving, follow directions and we get to do it as a family:)

Megan said...

Yes, TV has great benefits, and big drawbacks . We probably watch more than we should. But it is Animal Planet and PBS. I did cancel expanded cable after my youngest began to really cop an attitude after watching Disney Channel. That is really interesting about the types of senses that are not being used in TV watching. We have observed more meltdowns after TV than other activities. My twelve year old still loves to watch Martha Speaks and Curious George. She doesn't seem to know that most sixth graders don't watch "baby" shows anymore. Who cares!?

Mia @ Finding Balance said...

Even though I already know it, I always find myself taken back when I read about others needing TV, trains, videos etc for quiet time.

Anyway, I love all your suggestions and have been thinking about that as well. How I'm going to schedule our summer time. I'm working on our schedule now. I think I'm saving our YouTube video time for what he earns for toileting and chores.

The only I would add to the list is Model Me Kids info. I have long since thought of getting some of their videos showing good social interactions, etc for my son (with his various diagnosis). Since toileting, self-dressing, and improved social interactions are on my list for the summer, these videos go along with it.

Patty O. said...

That totally makes sense. In fact, Danny's OT said something similar about the visual and auditory input being too much but that it sucks him in and he almost can't look away. I had never thought of using the weighted blanket. I love it, and the other ideas you gave. Thanks!

Caitlin Wray said...

Hartley thanks for explaining the 'too low' vs 'too high' issue with TV. It makes perfect sense doesn't it - after all, we do call it 'downtime'.

Your post triggered a solution for me - we don't have a weighted blanket but I did order one of those heavy 5lb stuffed lizzards. Simon won't wear it around his neck the way I was hoping he would for homeschool, but it would work for him to hold it on his lap or belly while watching tv. Thanks :)


florence said...

What an awsome giveaway!!! I keep looking for it in the library!! I look forward to seeing this educational experience some day.

Hartley said...

Florence, I think you meant to comment on the Autistic Like giveaway page, so I added your comment there. :)

Keri said...

Wow, your comments just made me realize why my son always buries himself under our comforter and pillows while he watches tv! Other times he jumps up and down on the bed the entire time. And here I was telling him, "Stop jumping!" Guess seekers will always...well, 'seek' out what they need at that particular moment to get their needed input, huh?

Around here we're big music & dinosaur geeks so we've got "Little Einsteins", "Jack's Big Music Show", "Fresh Beat Band" and "Dinosaur Train" recorded. School days we do "Little Bear" to keep it mellow. My little guy also loves those shows "Factory Made" and "How It's Made".

We've started the LeapFrog dvds recently since he's become interested in letters and phonics.

AlliC said...

We are new to SPD and Asperger's, but I have discovered the heavy blanket during TV. We watch more than we should, but it has been a coping mechanism. Now that we are understanding what is going on, we can wean ourselves off the TV. Our little guy's faves are Curious George, Imagination Movers, and Fetch! with Ruff Ruffman. He has also gotten into watching the old Transformer cartoons with Daddy, but that is only about once a week.

Thank you having a forum for us to learn and share.