This post is part of a collaboration through The Motherhood. Although I received compensation for sharing this information, all thoughts are my own.
Becoming a parent for the first time raises a lot of questions, and media use is often brought up in online mom support groups. To help change the conversation around screen time, child advocate and co-creator of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Super Why!, Angela Santomero will release Preschool Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World this spring. The new book highlights ways to apply what children are seeing in the media to help compliment parents’ efforts and activities to extend the learning from these shows.
Preschool Clues is said to debut early April 2018. You can preorder your copy here.
Santomero hopes to offer parents a different approach to media use through her new book. “I want to change the conversation around screen time with an understanding that not all content is created equally,” she said in an interview with Motherhood Through My Eyes, “and doing so with regards to a healthy green smoothie.”
She then explains how the two correlate in the following: “If you’re choosing educational (the greens), interactive (the proteins), and entertaining shows (the sweets) that spark that passion in your child, then I think what’s happening is that you’re moving the needle into what it is that they’re learning.”
Parenting From A Child Advocate’s Perspective
Santomero began co-creating children shows since her mid-20s before she became a mother. After becoming a parent, Santomero took on a different approach.
“When I became a mom, I was like mama bear about everything,” she said during the interview. “I also became even more opinionated about what it was that [my kids] were watching and what it was that we were putting in as producers and writers in our shows.”
Although Santomero always had a point of view about what went into the shows, she began to pay attention to what was being shown on television. She added: “Even things that seemed small — such as having a character stand on the chair — it wasn’t something we’d like our children to mimic so it was changed.”
A few truths about children and media:
– Media can be an incredibly positive and powerful educational tool for preschoolers
– A preschooler’s favorite shows are in reality some of their best friends and most influential teachers.
– Kids’ media can be a bonding experience that brings families together – to laugh, bond and learn.
– And most important, we can all lose the guilt.
Preschool years are considered to be some of the most critical for brain development. In fact, preschoolers may be different from one another in how they grow and develop and their individual learning styles, but there are a number of aspects of child development that are universally the same.
Below are a set of development-based universal truths developed by Santomero that are common to every preschooler. Through these commonalities, she has developed a universal language to engage, inspire and connect with children during this critical growth phase:
– All preschoolers play to figure out their world.
– All preschoolers need time to Pause.
– All preschoolers like to Repeat.
– All preschoolers imitate their parents as the “stars” of their show.
– All preschoolers, universally, want to help – they are innately empathetic, and we can strengthen their empathy muscles through everyday activities.
For Santomero it’s all about the connecting the characters to their audience. “I believe strongly in the idea of interactivity,” she said. “When you’re talking to someone and looking them in the eye, giving them your attention and pausing to let them communicate — that’s what we [like to] do on TV as well. It’s a sense of giving your child a voice. As a mom, it was important that the shows I would allow them to watch would give them the same response.”
Listening To Parents’ Feedback
Getting feedback from parents of the children who watch Santomero’s shows is essential to her research. During the interview, we brought up a scene from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood that never sat well with my husband and I. As parents, we try to keep an eye on what our children are watching during screen time.
Santomero discussed why certain scenes from the Daniel Tiger episode 211 Daniel Can’t Get What He Wants will be changed. It turns out, we weren’t the only ones who didn’t agree with the “Stomp Three Times” song. “A lot of people were upset about this song because it made them feel as though the kids were just stomping because they were having a tantrum and we were allowing that,” noted Santomero. “The purpose of the three stomps is to give the child a place to go with your feelings. We didn’t want it to look as though you have a strong feeling and you take a deep breath to make it go away. Some kids can do this, but not all. We wanted to offer different strategies, and this was one of the strategies we learned through child development.”
Although this is something her team believes would work from a child development point of view, Santomero understands that the key to her shows is to be helpful to parents and their children.
Preschool Clues is a must-have guide for parents, families, friends, and educators, helping them to make smart, informed choices about children’s media and understand how high-quality preschool programming powerfully resonates with, entertains, and teaches young viewers important social, emotional, and cognitive skills.
Be sure to preorder your copy today!