Thursday, July 1, 2010

Caillou and the Dragon

I thought for sure I’d blogged about television before, but looking back on my posts over the last year-and-a-half, I don’t think I have. Amazing.  What you're about to read comes with a disclaimer:  We are not bad parents!  We just have found a lot of good things about television and children's programming in the last 4 years.

Sammi has always been allowed to watch TV. Steve and I are already television junkies, and when Samantha was born we never really had a plan for how we would introduce and monitor TV time for a child. Of course for the first year she really had absolutely no interest in it. Then we discovered a love of the PBS Sprout channel as a perfectly adequate babysitter when we wanted to cook/clean/pee without a small child in the mix. We also began to notice a marked increase in Samantha’s verbal skills around this time. The programming she watched really sparked her interest, and, little mimic that she is, she began to copy some of what she was hearing. Now, mind you, we didn’t have the TV on all the time, just when it was convenient, and as a routine end to her evening, prefacing bedtime.

We also noticed that Samantha’s favorite programming usually revolved around characters that were more real, rather than fantastical. For example, she was obsessed with Nina and (creepy) Star from Sprout’s Goodnight Show (live action) and Caillou (cartoon of a mysteriously-bald Canadian 4-year-old boy in everyday family situations). When she graduated to Nick Jr. (more preschool-oriented programming) by age 3, she added in a love of Max & Ruby (cartoon rabbits, but who still portray everyday social situations, other than the fact that they have no parents and live in a big house by themselves. The words “roadkill," or "big dog roaming the neighborhood" come to mind, although they've never been confirmed…), Olivia (precocious grade-school-age cartoon pig and her family, also in everyday situations) and Little Bill (cartoon boy and his family living in the big city, produced by Bill Cosby). 

Her speech and language skills have exploded watching these shows.  She can recount episodes of each, telling them back in her own way (gotta pick up context!).  She has learned compassion and acceptable social behavior by modeling what she has seen these other “children” do. I watch these programs with her, over and over and over again, and can find no fault. She’s also at a stage now where she will watch for a short time, get up and turn the television off, saying “All done TV,” then sit down to read a book. I sometimes wonder who’s the parent and who’s the child when I see how in control of her TV “education” she is, and I’m amazed.

Below is an episode of Caillou that really caught me off guard when I first saw it nearly a year-and-a-half ago. Caillou’s preschool gets a visit from a new prospective student, Allen. While nothing is specifically said, I strongly suspect Allen sports an extra chromosome… More reasons to love TV.  Enjoy!


Dawn said...

Almost 21 years later, Taylor is still watching those shows as well. Since I know you hate Barney (I think Taylor will forgive you that) I'll share my feelings about Caillou.

Taylor loves all things PBS...well all the old shows on PBS. Some of the new ones confound even me. The first time I saw Caillou, all I could think of was "wow, he's a brat". :)

Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with our kids watching TV. Like you read in my post, Taylor learned more from the dreaded Barney than school.

I will say that she has graduated to liking things like iCarly & Drake & Josh. (Taylor loves slapstick humor) But she always falls back on her old faves...Blues Clues, Dragon Tales, & her new fave, The Upside Down Show.

my family said...

WIlliam watches PBS mostly...unless the girls have something on and then he doesnt pay much attention. The tv is on when getting ready to go somewhere or in the afternoon when Im fixing something to eat...we like Wordworld, caillou, and dinosaur train.
Thanks for this post

Kacey Bode said...

Ella LOVES most of those shows too, she though has to fight with her brother for TV time, so Ella has Sponge Bob, Imagination Movers and Sid the Science Kid to add to her fav's list thanks to him!

I love that episode of Cailou, it caught me off guard, I wasn't expecting it at all!!!

stephanie said...

I love that episode! We all gathered around to watch! Emmie love shows with real people too!I let Em watch TV in hopes that she will pick up something verbally... and of course to pee alone! LOL

Monica said...

Very sweet. I think you're right... they made his eyes look like he might have Ds. There are many great things about PBS for kids. John Michael also loves Sesame Street, Dora (Nick Jr), and whatever else Greta watches. We don't watch Caillou too much because his whiny voice drives me batty. Because of older sibs, JM also watches (and sits through) Avatar and laughs where his sibs laugh. It's so funny!