Tag: Parenting

Frequent TV Viewing Causes Retardation of Comprehension

Yes, you read that right.  This kind of testing on the “performance” of young children can of course be somewhat unreliable , however, it is still a very clear and valuable indicator of the relationship between television viewing and cognitive development.  So many parents expose children under the age of 7 to television while their brain is still forming neural connections, just one of the many reasons to limit screen time. Any kind of passive media (regardless of content) will clearly limit the creativity of a young child’s mind.  Some of the many benefits of Waldorf education include story-telling (vs reading where pictures are shown) which maximizes the use of a child’s imagination while listening.  Blank faced dolls and basic wood toys further leave more to the child to create rather than the media.

Two pediatricians from a German municipal health office studied the capacity for pictorial perception among two thousand preschool children ages five and six prior to school entrance. In order to determine the children’s cognitive maturity and their pictorial perception and reproduction abilities in particular, they administered the so-called draw-a-person test, in which the children were to draw pictures of a person. The drawings were later evaluated by the pediatric medical doctors according to specific criteria, e.g. head-torso relationship, number of fingers on each hand, dynamic or static quality of the drawing, depiction of eyes and noses, and so forth. In this manner, it was possible to distinguish high-performing from low-performing children in each of the tested areas. The children’s scores were then compared to their average daily consumption of television and (in row C, below) to the daily extent of their “passive smoking,” that is, the number of cigarettes smoked by their mothers and fathers in the children’s presence. The following illustrations indicate alarming indications (NOTE: “smokers” refers of course to the child’s parents):

Frequent television viewing appears to lead to a significant retardation of the development of comprehension, a negative effect compounded by simultaneous passive smoking. In addition, certain visual perceptive abilities – and related cognitive development – appear to atrophy or be hindered by frequent television viewing and/or excessive video-game playing. The two medical doctors came to the conclusion that the rapid succession of images on the TV screen disrupts the child’s perceptive ability to behold or view with attention; as a result, the development of an inner picturing process is prevented. The children are unable to inwardly picture (or “grasp”) reality. The drawings in Row D were created by children with severe psychological or soul disturbances, who were not included in the regular studies; they suffered from family conflicts, divorce/custody proceedings, traumatic experiences, and so forth. The fact that Rows A through C successively approximate the images in Figure D is an indication of the emotional side-effects among children who watch a significant amount of television and are “passive smokers.”This edited and condensed research report can be found in Christian Rittelmeyer, Kindheit in Bedrängnis, Kohlhammerverlag, Stuttgart, 2007, pp. 78–80. The research study by the two medical doctors, P. Winterstein and R. Jungwirth from the Göppingen, Germany Health Office, is published in: Der Kinder- und Jugendarzt Nr. 37/ 2006. Rittelmeyer’s recent research, “The Advantage and Disadvantage of Brain Research for Pedagogy” was published in Waldorf Journal Project, Number 12 in the autumn of 2008.

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Getting your kids ready to leave

Getting your child to leave a fun activity can be difficult.  Whether it’s at the pool or playground or if they’ve just met a new friend, kids approach play full-on.  Getting them ready to go, especially if it is something that they are entirely engrossed in, can be hard.  But approaching it with their needs in mind first, vs yours, can allow them to leave in good spirits.  Leaving can even be transformed into a fun activity that they will get excited about.

1. Speak In Their Language

The number one way I hear parents at a playground try to get their kids to leave is with a warning like “OK, Sarah, 5 more minutes and then we are leaving!”.  If your child is under age 5 or 6, then minutes are foreign to them.  They essentially live in the present, and can’t imagine the future – it’s all about the here and now. My 5 year old still asks me how long a minute is, and even when I say – it’s counting from 1 to 60, she still doesn’t and won’t get it.  Try something more like “Three more slides and then we are going to go to the mall” or even “Before we go, I bet you can’t slide 3 times before I count to 20″.  This gives them something they can understand, and even get involved in and have fun with.  It is goal oriented and clear and most important visual.

2. Set Up Expectations

Prepare your child with the idea of leaving early. Kids don’t like to be surprised with the announcement “We’re leaving now.”  They need to have fair warning and be given a specific next step to prepare them for leaving.  When children play, they are fully immersed (body, mind and emotions) and so breaking them out of that state can be a struggle.  You may have to remind the child a few times about them leaving soon, but if you give them a goal or clear next step, then they will emerge from their present and then be prepared to move into yours.

3. Plant The Seed Of Where Your Are Going

I often start getting the process going by talking up some exciting or fun things about where we are going to next. This  gets my child to begin imagining themselves there and takes attention away from their current play just long enough to start to entice them to move on.  ”I wonder if they will have those yellow melons today at the grocery store?”.  This will start getting them to imagine themselves at the grocery store searching for those yellow melons.  It adds a purpose and answers the question, “Why are we going to leave?”.  It’s also a distraction away from the current fun activity.  A more immediate solution to leave really fast is something like “Who can do the silliest walk back to the car?”.  It’s a fun challenge, which kids love, and allows them to show their imagination and creativity, both of which they are brimming with.

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