I was reading this article on Ohdeedoh about Disney offering a full refund on any Baby Einstein dvd purchased in the last 5 years. If you’re not interested in clicking over, I’ll sum up…apparently a parents group has brought suit against Disney for stating that showing infants Baby Einstein videos would enhance their intellectual development when popular knowledge now states that TV is bad for children before age 2.
First off, how dumb could these parents be that bought into that line? There’s nothing that a child could sit and passively watch that can enhance a baby’s intellectual development. Maybe the parents should’ve been watching it?!? When Aidan was little, I went back to school for my teacher certification and some afternoons I needed quiet time to do homework. I’d pop in Baby Van Gogh, put Aidan in the exersaucer and she’d have a blast watching the puppets and the colors and the artwork and listening to the classical music and I’d get a chance to do my homework. I was in no way naive enough to believe she was learning anything or her development was becoming in anyway enhanced…Mama was just using the boob tube as a cheap babysitter!
Second, I am reminded of a something that happened around that same time. My friend Tanya and I used to take our kids to the Houston Children’s Museum a lot back then. One one of our trips I overheard a Nanny (we often saw Nannies taking their charges to the museum rather than parents) asking the resident pediatrician about the little girl in her care. Apparently the child was about a year old and wasn’t talking yet, just grunting and pointing. The dr. asked the Nanny if the girl watched any TV and the Nanny was very adamant, “No, no TV, her parents don’t allow any TV. I have to put her down to watch Baby Einstein videos.” The doctor’s response was what interested me most, “Those videos are completely passive, there’s no dialogue, virtually no speaking at all. A cartoon would be better than those videos.” Sadly, the Nanny probably couldn’t tell the girl’s parents and they probably spent oodles of money trying to figure out what was “wrong” with their child.
As a voracious reader, a (currently unemployed) schoolteacher and a former Media Specialist (fancy-speak for “school librarian”) I will tell you the one thing that is GUARANTEED to enhance your child’s intellectual development: reading. According to The Children’s Reading Foundation, “Just 20 minutes a day reading aloud with young children strengthens relationships, encourages listening and language skills, promotes attention and curiosity, and establishes a strong reading foundation. These skills are essential for success in school and in life.” The students whose parents take the time to read to them on a daily basis have a larger vocabulary, can follow stories as they are told and retell stories well; they usually have a longer attention span, and, most importantly, in my opinion, they are developing a lifetime love of reading. Additionally, these kids are typically more emotionally secure. Don’t spend your money on “pseudo-educational” toys or videos, buy books or check books out from your local or school library!