Friday, April 6, 2012

Won't You be My Neighbor?

I feel strongly about limiting screen time for children (the younger, the more important) for lots of reasons.  However, occasionally I find myself in a position where a little screen time for the boys would really be appreciated (bringing in the groceries when there's a toddler with separation anxiety, taking a shower by myself once in a blue moon, really rushing on dinner, etc). 

But what to show them?  Where could I possibly find programming as innocent as my sweet little boys?  Certainly not anything on YouTube, and almost nothing produced in the last ten years.  Most of our movies (as fun and innocent as they are) have a few intense parts that are too much for my almost four-year-old.  Most children's programs flash images so fast that little children don't have time to orient themselves to the image before there's a new image to figure out.  So what seems like fascination with the plot or characters is mostly just trying to make sense of what they are seeing on a basic level (source).
A while ago I found that on the PBS website there are 26 full episodes of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.  The first time I turned it on in desperation to get something accomplished, I ended up watching the whole thing with the boys, just absorbing Mr. Rogers' positive energy.  The show moved slowly, or at the perfect pace for my boys.  Mr. Rogers includes imaginative play and teaches important (and age appropriate) lessons, such as sharing and building friendships.  Abraham likes to play on his website for his after "school" "computer-time."

A completely enchanting and innocent movie we watched last weekend is Mary Poppins.  It has been a long time since I watched it, and it is so fun!  Abraham was in love.  He has been singing all the songs and insists it's his favorite movie in the whole wide world!  It will definitely be his favorite b-day gift this year.
What programs have you found that are thoughtfully and tastefully made and suitable for the very young?


  1. There is a cute show about a dog called Kipper. My mom showed it to me on netflix. It is fairly calm and I love the accents.

  2. We have recently discovered Kipper too! SO MUCH better than most of the other things we've seen. Slower paced, clever enough to entertain an adult, cute accents.

  3. Hi
    Just found your blog - so interesting! Can you access BBC iPlayer or perhaps you will find it on you tube - a programme called 'driver dan's story train'. Very gentle, and only ten minutes long. Enjoy.

  4. Thanks, Ariel. The boys are starting to play so well together, it often allows me to get things done in similar tricky situations. BUT -- if I need to keep the house clean during my busy moments, these are great ideas I'll keep in mind!

    For lots of fun, find Ariel and Andrew's youtube channel and watch their home videos. My boys always love those. :)

  5. What a great post, Ariel! Joe and I have discussed this often, he has no real love for Mr. Rogers, but even he admits it is so much better than what you can find on TV these days. (So glad we don't own one!)

    We've discussed looking into finding copies of the first few seasons of Sesame Street, the newer ones area little out of control for us. Luckily for me, (and sometimes unluckily, because it makes getting things done a little difficult), George couldn't careless about watching a screen. He only likes them when there are buttons present for pushing :)

  6. Hi, I am in Europe, so I don't know if you can find the same things, but some things my kids really enjoy are 'Spot', after the books from Eric Hill, 'Maisy' from Lucy Cousins books, 'Miffy' from the books of Dick Bruna, and 'Postman Pat'. Hmmm, seems like we really enjoy films from our favourite books! From Postman Pat you would need the older episodes, like from your own childhood-time!