Make the Most of TV this Summer

by Julie on June 18, 2011

Before I was a mother I made snooty statements about my future children never watching TV with mouths agape for hours on end. Instead  I would have an active, creative, outdoorsy family. Then I had children. And I was tired. For years. And let’s face it – it’s hot in Florida. And they can’t be in the pool all day every day. I’m so thankful that I eventually relaxed (ok, a little) and got a real life.

Fast forward ten years. It’s a stormy Saturday afternoon and my family is snuggled on the couch. And they are loud, howling and cracking up watching Shaun the Sheep. And since I cannot turn off my “teachable-moment-therapy brain,” it occurred to me that THIS is a great show to encourage language growth in our kids.

Let’s start with the cartoon ju jour. Shaun the Sheep is a stop-action animated program that orignally aired on the BBC in the UK. I found it through Netflix. Shaun has human-like intelligence and leads the rest of the farm animals in antics and adventures.

Here’s the catch – no human dialogue. It’s a speech therapist’s dream! Here’s where you, the parent, come in. Watch this show with your kiddo.

  • Press pause intermittently and talk with your child about what the characters might be saying.  If she is irritated with you for pausing, act clueless and ask: “I don’t get it, can you tell me what’s going on?” Let your little one be the teacher.
  • If your child is working on social skills, ask: “How does he feel? How can you tell? What should he say?”
  • For emotional awareness: Explain and point to the character’s exaggerated facial expressions. Label the emotions if your child is unsure or is sticking with “happy/sad.”
  • Encourage your child to predict what might happen next. These episodes are sitcom format and become predictable when kids learn the routine.
  • Finally, laugh. Together. And share a silly moment. Kids who participate in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy often have to work very hard each day on skills that other kids pick up easily.

Enjoy a relaxed, happy, guilt-free, couch potato 30 minutes with your little learner today.

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