This post is sponsored by The Motherhood. All opinions are my own. #PreschoolClues
Screen Time for Preschoolers
With so many screen time for kids opportunities and even more online conversations about why we should discourage them, I personally feel it’s important to share why I support screen time for kids. I have two daughters, two and nine years old, and have always embraced our evolving digital world full of social media and online learning experiences. Our educational opportunities were very different and most of my own childhood was spent outside making real world connections while playing in the mud with friends. Now we have the option of sharing high quality preschool programming to teach young children very important social, emotional and cognitive skills. This week I interviewed Angela Santomero, cocreator of Blue’s Clues and creator of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, about her extensive background creating educational material for preschool aged children and her new book Preschool Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World. Preschool Clues launches April 3 and is currently available on presale from Amazon. The must have guide for parents and educators helps understand the connections between education, interaction and engagement.
My personal experience with preschoolers and screen time comes from my two daughters six years apart in age. When my oldest daughter, now nine, was an infant, the digital world was booming with many different educational opportunities for toddlers. Her well balanced education at home with me was supplemented by engaging online activities. From a very young age she enjoyed a wide variety of learning activities. We visited the library weekly, planned outings with friends similar in age, read together, visited local museums and zoos, traveled and enjoyed many age appropriate television shows together. Her favorites included Blue’s Clues and taught her skills I could not on my own. She is a very dynamic child with so much enthusiasm for learning. She attends a challenging elementary school with advanced curriculum, is on a youth competitive rock climbing team and loves nature. She has been the SeaWorld kid blogger since she was just five years old and has an impressive understanding of marketing and content creation. She sees me working online and while her hopes and dreams extend far beyond my own reach, her voice is powerful. Her little sister is following right behind in her footsteps and because of the time we’ve spent online together, she too, has a vivid imagination, solves problems with creative thinking and wows us with the random facts she’s always rambling off. A day at home in our house consists of a healthy balance of hands on activities, imaginary play and screen time.
About the Author
Angela Santomero is helping us understand media as an incredible powerful tool for preschoolers. The educational value goes far beyond the content at face value. Most importantly, she’s helping to change the discourse and empower us to lose the guilt. Healthy screen time with the right materials is a wonderfully positive educational experience to help our children grow and learn. That sounds like a win already but in general, our society struggles with the new digital advances. Instead we outwardly claim our children must grow up away from the screen and learn only through the same techniques we did as children. Kid’s media can be a bonding experience for families and part of the universal language to engage, inspire and connect with children during the important preschool growth phase.
Universal Truths of Preschoolers
Through research, Angela has developed the universal truths of preschoolers. Each child is different but through the universal truths, in her book she shares these truths to help us recognize how children thrive.
- All preschoolers play to figure out their world.
- All preschoolers need time to Pause.
- All preschoolers like to Repeat.
- All preschoolers imitate their parents as the “stars” of their show.
- All preschoolers, universally, want to help – they are innately empathetic, and we can strengthen their empathy muscles through everyday activities.
Already called “the ultimate parenting book,” Angela takes her experience as a content creator AND a mom to teach us all why taking away the guilt behind allowing your children to thrive with high quality kid’s media is so important. Preschool Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World is the reassurance we need backed by research and educators to help us all utilize tools correctly for our children.
Questions for the author
Although I personally believe screen time is an excellent learning tool because of my own experience with my children, I really wanted to dive into the advice Angela had for parents. Her interview responses solidified a quick preorder of her new book for myself and all my parenting friends.
1. When you think about children’s television programming, is it most important for a show to be entertaining and engaging to keep the kids’ attention, or educational to keep them learning (and what are the most important things for preschoolers to learn through a show)? How did you land on the right formula for Daniel Tiger and Blue’s Clues — what was that process like?
I believe in integrating the best curriculum, how kids learn from media, and entertainment. It’s like a healthy green smoothie — check out the graphic below! You’ve got the education (the greens), interaction (the protein), and engagement (the sweets)! The right balance is of utmost importance. We developed Daniel Tiger and Blue’s Clues very carefully – taking in our first episode almost 100 times to get just the right balance. We also continue to research episodes of our shows to make sure that we get it right!
2. As parents, how can we build on the teaching moments in educational shows like Daniel Tiger to reinforce what kids are learning? Do you have practical tips and advice for us in everyday life, even when we’re not watching?
Extending the learning from the shows is so important. First and foremost, I believe that when you let your kids watch media, you are opening a door and letting strangers into your living room (or car!) to play with your kids. Animated or not, they become our preschooler’s friends and “peer models,” which can be a huge influence to their learning about the world. So, talk about them — as parents, we can take examples right from our preschooler’s favorite shows to help our kids work through some of their own tricky situations, talk about the stories, or have preschoolers remember when this happened to Daniel Tiger and what can be gleaned from that.
In my book Preschool Clues, I talk a lot about embracing the media and extend the learning because when preschoolers play creatively and imaginatively, they are actually practicing key skills. In Preschool Clues, I give examples ranging from dramatic play with props based on the show, to science-based experiments using show content, to outings that will take the media curriculum to another level. Even simple ideas such as conversations around the dinner table and asking your preschooler, “What would Daniel Tiger do?” I am currently working on a new book that extends the learning even more with curriculum-based games, activities and insights from my shows!
3. As the creator of popular children’s television shows, how involved are you in the voice casting? What is the process like?
So much fun! We listen to a lot of voices and always cast real kids to play kids who are playful, thoughtful and smart.
4. So many parents discuss discouraging and highly limiting screen time. What are your thoughts on screen time for preschool aged children?
Would you limit your child from eating broccoli? It’s all about the content! Good quality content — that is targeted at your kid’s age group — can educate. Extending the learning from the shows with hands-on activities will round out the value. Choose carefully and they will learn from interacting and playing with media when the screen is on – and off.
I hope my book, Preschool Clues, will inspire readers to ditch the guilt that can be associated with screens and media, grab the remote, and find all of the Preschool Clues inside high-quality preschool TV, for both your child and you!
5. What is your personal favorite part of content creation?
I love playing with the characters in my head as I write!
Are you the parent of a preschooler growing up in this new digital age too? I will never regret my daughters’ learning opportunities through kid’s media and the real world applications they have gained because of this time we spent learning together. Read the new Preschool Clues book and give yourself a high five for getting ahead of the conversation.
Learn more about Preschool Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World by connecting with Author Angela Santomero on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.