Tuesday, August 4, 2009
As a first grade teacher one of my biggest challenges is keeping my students engaged. Six year olds are much more sophisticated these days and do not have time to just be sitting and learning. They have things to do, people to talk to, and if they are not being entertained then you are wasting their time. I’ve come to learn that “my time” is about 20 minutes and then my students begin to unravel on the rug. Someone is sitting too close to another, so-and-so’s feelings are hurt, little Eddie’s tooth fell out, and the principal is calling to remind me a parent tour is coming in five minutes. Fan-tas-tic!
Before I had children of my own I almost always blamed my students’ lack of attention on what else: television and video games. I clearly remember thinking what kind of parent would allow their children to watch TV for more than 30 minutes a day? Doesn’t anyone know what books are anymore? Parent people! Parent!
Oh how the times have changed. I could write a glowing review on how much I love the Noggin channel and all the friends Emi has made on it. If dinner needs to be made, Emi can usually be found watching her friends Pablo and Tasha and their Backyardigan adventure. If mom has a deadline to write a post, Emi is hanging with Wyatt and her Super Why friends. Truth be told, there are only a handful of shows Emi watches, and from what I can tell they are very appropriate. No violence and there are no skanky girl characters in the lead roles.
Lately I’ve started to obsess about what will happen when Sesame Street and the Backyardigans are no longer her friends. How can I choose age appropriate shows or movies for my little one? Especially when my attention span is limited for animated movies.
Enter Common Sense Media, a website devoted to reviewing all media (books, websites, movies, video games & TV) and applying an age appropriate tag.
There is even a section for iphone applications. It’s genius. Users are also allowed to add reviews and parents can scroll through ages 2-17 for recommendations. Common Sense Media is an independent non-profit company that seeks grants from organizations not affiliated with the media, so there is no conflict of interest. You can read more about their FAQ and rating system on their site.
A teacher shouldn’t say this, but sometimes it’s nice having someone do the homework for you!