Tips to Help Make Watching TV a Learning Experience

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Content brought to you by Excellent Schools Detroit

Keep your kids talking – and, more importantly, thinking! – long after you've turned off Nickelodeon's Go, Diego, Go!, Disney's Lab Rats or other kid-friendly shows with these age-appropriate questions.

Under age 2

For little kids, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends: "Television and other entertainment media should be avoided for infants and children under age 2. A child's brain develops rapidly during these first years, and young children learn best by interacting with people, not screens."

Preschoolers, ages 2-3

Have fun with your child going through what he's seeing and hearing during a TV show. Ask:

  • Do you remember the song from the show?
  • What was the character doing? Or holding?
  • What was your favorite part of the show?

Grade schoolers, ages 5-8

Build on the learning concepts in television shows for grade schoolers by encouraging them to see how things compare to their own experiences. Ask:

  • If you were one of the characters on the show, which one would you be?
  • Who is your favorite character on the show and why?
  • What could happen in real life from the show and what's unrealistic?

Tweens, ages 9-12

Shows for tweens tend to have more plot developments that are driven directly by the characters' actions. Ask:

  • Was there a problem the characters were trying to solve?
  • How did the characters solve that problem?
  • Have you ever had problems like the character in the show? How did you solve them?

Teens, ages 13 and up

For teens, shows often include characters that are testing the boundaries of what's acceptable. Have an open conversation with your teen about your values and expectations for his or her behavior by discussing what's happening on the show. Ask:

  • Have any of your friends ever been in a situation like that?
  • What kind of advice would you give a friend that was going through that situation?
  • What would you do in that situation?
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