A recent post by Marilyn Price-Mitchell titled Are We Over Stimulating Young Children? has a summary of Dr. Dimitri Christakis’s study including a TEDxRainier video I encourage you to watch.
The research indicates prolonged exposure to rapid image changes (e.g.- action packed TV programs) during critical periods of early development can increase the chance a child will have difficulty attending to tasks at school. It is interesting that slower paced educational television programs pose no increased risk. “Appropriate” cognitive stimulation reduced the chances of cognitive problems later in life.
For me, the big take away is children need frequent quality INTERACTION with adults providing stimulation. In other words, you the parent/caregiver are the most important aspect to your child’s development now and to how they will focus and react in the future. Media is not a substitute.
What does that mean as far as sharing music with your child?
It means not just popping in a DVD or turning on your mp3 list of children’s music. It means singing with your child. If you don’t think you sing well, sing anyway. (It is okay to sing along with the recording.) Imitate the child’s sounds. let them imitate yours.
It means creating music with your child. You don’t own an instrument? Then make one! Lots of found objects make great instruments. And, there are lots of great resources for creating others.
It means moving with your child. It means letting them take the lead. You can dance with each other, include the stuffed toys or dolls or scarves.
Here’s something to try!
Appropriate stimulation doesn’t require tons of money. It requires you being fully present. I love sharing ideas that have little to no cost for you to share with a child.
For example, May 26th is Paper Airplane Day. Celebrate it with a child. An infant might enjoy watching a paper airplane. A Toddler might like to chase after the plane. (Yes, you will likely need to make many as they will get crumpled, but let’s be honest – that’s half the fun.) With older children, let them take the lead. Have them select which design to try. Let them decide how to decorate the plane. See who can get a plain to fly the furthest. Have fun with it!
AND, if you have an elementary age child, be sure and sing this silly camp song together – mispronounced words and all!
If you enjoyed this simple idea you can sign up to receive 4 FREE weeks of ideas here.
Now, share your favorite ways to interact with your child in the comments below.
- TEDxRainier: Media and Children (seeker401.wordpress.com)