In my short 2 years of homeschooling, I've come across several homeschoolers who are anti-television, and honestly, I can't understand why. My children have learned so much from television. Frequently, I catch myself saying to them, "Where did you learn that?" Their response is usually, "on T.V.". Although, I'm usually impressed with some of their knowledge or vocabulary, I'm not immune from the mommy guilt. I've read the articles that state " Watching Television Causes ADHD". So, what do I do with that information? Do I allow my parental perfectionism to get in the way of my critical thinking. I have three research subjects at home, and all have been allowed to watch television, and none of them possess any ADD or ADHD traits.
Maybe you've read the same study or perhaps a respected authority figure has told you of the statistics. Well, I came across this study in the American Journal For Pediatrics.
We found no significant association between hours of watching television and behavioral problems in any of the age groups, although the results do not rule out such an effect, especially not for those who spend the longest time in front of the television (Table 1).
But you say, this study says it doesn't rule out such an effect. That's right. They just can't find a correlation between the two. One thing that they suspect, is that the ADD or ADHD behavior is present, and these children usually calm down watching television, and it gives the parents of these children a much needed break. Further down in the same article from the American Journal of Pediatrics this is what it says,
It is a clinical experience that watching television can engage children with ADHD for some time, probably because of the constant visual and auditory stimuli they receive from these media. The parents of these children may therefore be more likely to allow them to watch television for longer periods of time. The children in our study, who were watching >11/2 hour of television at the age of 31/2 years, were more likely to have ADHD-like behavior already at this age. The direction of causality may very well be the opposite of what is concluded by Christakis et al.
Although they aren't positive, it appears that watching T.V. is not the cause of ADD or ADHD, but that ADD and ADHD can cause children to want to watch more T.V.
Now don't get me wrong. I don't plop them in front of the television so I can get my whole house clean, or to go take a bubble bath and eat Bon Bons. No, instead I use it to send a quick email, talk to friend on the phone, or write out our plans for the week. And, I always, always, always use it to get dinner made. By that time in the evening, I need to cook in peace. I pick the shows that we can agree on. Not all shows are created equal. I look more at the moral content than I do at the education content of a show. And no, they aren't all educational. My children enjoy humor, and so some shows are just pure entertainment. We have designated times that we watch television, and the T.V. isn't on all day. Frankly if it was, my kids would just walk away from it and go play. Building a fort, creating an awesome Lego vehicle, riding their bike and running around outside is always more interesting than watching television.
So why do I meet so many homeschoolers who are against watching television. Many of my friends, myself included, embrace a Charlotte Mason educational philosophy. In my opinion, I think we are longing for a time that is slower paced, family oriented, one that just seems more wholesome. I'm sure you have a picture in your mind, you know the one where the whole family is gathered around a fire in the living area. The children are laying on the floor tinkering with blocks or with a toy they made with their own hands. The smell of mom's fresh baked pie is wafting from the kitchen, grandma is snuggled up with little Susie rubbing her back and mom and dad are sitting on the couch holding hands all while Grandpa reads or tells of a great literary story. Wait a minute....isn't that Waltons?
How do we get to Walton's Mountain when we live in the information age? It's hard to find our way when everyone is surfing the net and riding the information super highway. For our family I think I will make it a point to keep the television off when our family is all together. I'm going to hold sacred that precious time when Dad comes home from work and we are able to eat together. I will be committed to keeping sacred the last couple hours of the day before bedtime. Last night I noticed the television was off when my husband came home, and I caught him playing Duck, Duck, Goose and Freeze Tag. Those are the moments I don't want to miss. Plus, it is very entertaining to watch a six-foot man get up from a crossed-leg position and chase a 4 year old around the house.
Over the last month, I've discovered what I presumed to be true. My child has dyslexia. My blog is dedicated to these wonderfully different learners. I marvel at their creativity, out of the box thinking and their infectious need for humor. This is a journey of our discovery process and our journey homeschooling with what works. I hope you will find encouragement along with helpful advice in teaching your right brain learner in this left brain world.