Caden is a precocious and a very inquisitive child. He is 3 but questions me as if he is my parent. He supervises my helper and he speaks English like an American-cum-British kid. We never taught him to speak like that because my husband and I speak Singlish.
I exposed Caden to television when he was just 12 months. This was because Starhub had so many TV channels like Disney Junior channel, CBeebies and Momokids, just to name a few, to educate kids. The thing about Caden is that he is selective about what he watches and he never glues himself to the chair like a couch potato. On the contrary, he is a super active child and he just doesn’t stay in one place for too long. Yet, he will sit down to watch his favourite TV shows. He loves Barney, Handy Manny and Dora. When I researched about the programs and review their contents on Youtube, I realised that these programs have a lot of educational potential. Barney talks about Going to School, Learning your ABC and It’s Your Birthday. I simply love their theme Song “I Love You” very much and the song is really catchy.
My family thinks that my teaching methods are incorrect and I shouldn’t let my children watch TV until after they are 2. Well, to each his own. I allow Caden to watch TV and he learned his accent from watching Disney Channel and his ABC from Barney and of course from going nursery school which I have paid good money for. When Barney comes on TV, Caden will sing-along with Barney loudly, and not forgetting to mention that he learned how to dance (awkwardly) while watching Barney. A lot of experts say parents should not put children in front of the TV before they are 2 because it will affect their mental development. I put Caden and Charles in front of the TV. The songs from the kids’ channels are well-written and the characters are very well-animated. And, the cartoon characters are absolutely entertaining. I am a proud mother of a 3-year-old who speaks like an American-cum-British kid and who can string so many sentences without going to Lorna Whiston or MindChamps English enrichment classes.
Of course, I make very sure that Caden and Charles do not stare at the TV for a long time but watch the relevant and good quality children’s programs. Momokids channel is a good tool for me to introduce Caden to Chinese and they have a lot of songs and dance too, so I like it. It is obvious that you must limit the amount of time you expose your child to TV. I limit Caden to 20 minutes for one program and Charles to only 10 minutes.
I guess you can surf the web and read as many parenting books as you want, but I believe children are individuals and they function just like any normal human being. If you expose them to violent cartoons like Ben Ten and Transformers, they are bound to be more violent than other kids but if you carefully choose your programs and expose them to good children programs like Barney and Cbeebies, you can get a kid who speaks English fluently by the time he is 2. Come on, even we adults can get violent if they watch too much of brutal shows or play too many violent graphic games like Diablo.
In actual fact, I watch the cartoons myself and I enjoy them. I like Handy Manny and Mickey Clubhouse. The animation is so well-done and the colours in Hi-Definition incomparable. The cartoons are attractive, enticing and they teach. I believe each child is different and of course, you try to do your best as a parent. I let Caden and Baby Charles watch TV, I read to Caden at night and I try to think of all the good nutritional foods and vitamins to give them so that they can reach their developmental milestones.
In fact, I learn from my kids everyday. They are individuals and you must listen to them and understand their needs. You cannot read parenting books and try to mold your child to the views given by the authors as they are only meant for reference. It is paramount to observe your children and then expose them to the right programs after you have reviewed the program contents carefully. If your child is already violent and likes to beat up his little brother, then exposing him to cartoons like Ben Ten and Transformers will be an AWFUL mistake. My parenting methods may seem unorthodox to a lot of people including my family, but I observe and provide my children with what I think is the best for them as I believe they have their rights as individuals to ask for what they like and what they want. TV is an avenue and a tool to educate my children and keep them entertained for awhile. I believe the producers, writers and animators have worked very hard to come up with good children’s programs and cartoons.
Another thing to add about Caden’s fluency in English is that I never treat Caden like a kid. I use the same English to speak to him as I would to any adult I speak to. I do not use baby language and whenever he does something naughty, I reason with him and I ask him for his opinion on what he thinks is right. We discuss on how to solve the issue together. Listen, observe and learn from your child so that you can give him or her the very best.
Caden’s Favourite Youtube Links:
1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsKO_r76kfQ (Barney- I LOVE U)- I love this song!
2)http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ODPtsAJXgM (Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Theme)- I love this song too!