Friday, 20 May 2011

How much TV should my pre-schooler watch?

The Hello campaign to mark 2011 national year of communication aims to help educate parents to optimise their children's speech, language and communication skills. They aim to dispel some of the myths and clarify what we should be doing. TV is a topic that's often discussed but how much should they watch, what should we be letting them watch and how should they be watching? These are all questions to which parents need the answers.

To help parents plan their involvement the Hello Campaign advises:
1. If you let your child watch TV, watch it with them (as much as possible). It would be unrealistic to say always as there will be times when you can't.
2. It is really important to always remember that children need quiet time where you turn off background noise and have time just to play. This is really important for listening and language development.
3. When you do watch programmes make sure they are at the right level for your child – not too  complicated or aimed at older children. There's no point them watching adult programmes such as soaps or day-time TV. (CBeebies for example is good for 2-4 year olds)
4. Have fun and encourage your child to really engage with the programme.  Join in with your child if there are familiar songs or rhymes– each episode of Raa Raa The Noisy Lion includes the 4 R’s (Rhyme, Rhythm, Repetition and Retelling), which provides a good opportunity for you to participate with your child.
5. Make TV time ‘communication’ time. Briefly comment on what is happening in a programme to spark off a conversation or highlight something that is happening i.e. ‘Look at Raa Raa – he’s hiding’.
6. Be sure to answer any questions children may ask – they might have lots! And talk about the programme afterwards – which bit they liked best and why. Tell them what you think.
7. Pretend games are fantastic for children’s language and communication development. Why not make believe you are in a Jungle - make a den with an old blanket across a couple of chairs, use soft toys as the animals. You could even act out one of the adventures from shows like Raa Raa The Noisy Lion that you have just watched with your child adding in their imagination to create a whole new story.
8. Remember not to put pressure on your children and give them the opportunity to communicate with you. Get down to their level and give them time to listen as well as talk.
9. The most important thing for children is adults who listen and talk with them, alongside stimulating experiences and materials that give them opportunities to interact and play. Too much TV can get in the way of this, so it is important to try and get the right balance.
10. If you at all concerned about your child’s communication development, log onto or

Remember there so many more important things you can do with your child: play, sings songs and rhymes, read together, rough and tumble, run around in the garden, go for a walk, visit the park.... the list is endless. When you look back at your own childhood these are the things you remember, not sitting alone watching TV I bet! Give your child their own happy memories of time with you! No one on their death bed says 'I wish I had let my child watch more TV' but countless might regret not spending quality time with their them. They grow up so fast and you only get one chance!
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