Before I was a parent, I knew little about public television. And, I was one of “those parents” — the ones who don’t allow their kids to watch television.
But eventually, like most parents, I broke down. When my daughter was 18 months old, I caved in and turned on Sesame Street. She was unimpressed, but fifteen years later, I’m still hooked on what public television has to offer.
Eventually, my daughter became more interested in TV, and we watched a lot of PBS. In fact, for a long while, it was the only station I allowed her to watch. Beloved characters from books, educational themes, animals (and the Kratt Brothers) and cultural diversity, all commercial free. As she grew older and more interested in the computer, we ventured onto pbskids.org, playing games that featured her favorite characters and taught her something in the process.
My daughter has long since outgrown those programs and hasn’t quite grown into the likes of Downton Abbey and Charlie Rose. And while I’m more likely to watch commercial television, I have yet to outgrow the parenting offshoot of PBS Kids: PBS Parents.
Though it’s definitely skewed toward parents of younger children, with tabs for birthday parties and fun and games, PBS Parents is also a good resource on child development and education beyond the preschool years. Their child development tracker covers development through the end of elementary school, and if you click on the “Child Development” tab and use its drop-down menu, you’ll find a section on preteens and teens as well. Click on “Parenting” and you’ll find information on raising boys and raising girls along with tips on talking with your kids and dealing with technology and media.
Want more? Click on the “Teachers” tab on the PBS home page to go to PBS Learning Media. Once there, you can watch the video of the day in science, social studies, math or literacy (my personal choice was the video on gridlock in Manhattan) and take advantage of the site’s learning materials as well. Or click on one of the educational partner icons to explore information on other topics (I ended up on the page where everyone from Gabby Gifford to Stephen Colbert to the Muppets recite the Gettysburg address…I guess social studies is my default setting) or do a search by grade and/or subject area.
I can always count on PBS to be kid-appropriate (or to warn me when it won’t be) and I can trust that the information I find there is accurate and supported by research and experts. The gridlock video, for example, featured transportation expert, Professor Anna Nagurney (along with fabulous views of Times Square). Support materials and Common Core Educational Standard alignments are also readily available.
My daughter might have outgrown Sesame Street, but I’m sure the time is coming when she’ll grow back into PBS. Till then, I’ll watch for both of us.
Copyright 2014, Lisa Hess