18 January 2007
Assuming that it is not overused I believe the Television can help babies and children to develop, and give parents a bit of a break. The second being just as important as it can help reduce stress creating a better environment for everyone. Here's a brief run down of some of the TV channels and DVDs available for Babies, Toddlers and young Children.
TV for Babies and Baby Einstein DVDs
There is a baby channel available on Cable (e.g. VirginMedia) and Sky, but it is not available on Freeview / terrestrial TV.
The baby channel is not particularly good, it does try and achieve a similar thing to the Baby Einstein DVDs, but is not as professionally done.
I'd personally recommend either the Baby Einstein DVDs, or the Baby Bright DVDs.
The Baby Einstein DVDs use a combination of music, toys, puppet shows, animal video footage and children to create an enjoyable experience for babies and young children. Something they both enjoy watching, but also educational as in one example it shows different animals and saying their names.
Baby Bright uses computer animated babies that perform activities on the screen. This can include making references to colours, shapes and sizes etc.
TV for Pre-school Children - CBeebies
There is more choice available for Toddlers and young children, but we just use CBeebies, or DVDs. CBeebies is a digital channel from the BBC aimed at pre-school children. It's available on Cable, Sky and Freeview, and even if you don't watch any other channels makes it worth the cost of getting Freeview (if supported in your area).
I've not been a big supporter of paying the TV license before, but the BBC are creating some very good content and CBeebies has some great programming. It's nice to have a channel that is purely designed for children, with no compromises made because of the limited market for advertising or other factors. It's also nice that the channel is not bombarded with adverts for sugar coated cereals, sweets or the latest toy.
The programmes tend to repeat during the day. Most are shown twice a day, and during the main part of the day a number of the programmes are signed.
Here are a few of the programmes. There are many more programmes, and the schedule does vary, but these are ones particularly relevant for us.
This is our daughter's current favourite program. There was some controversy when Teletubbies was first broadcast on the BBC. One of the concerns was from the baby sounds that the Teletubbies make, saying Eh-Oh, instead of hello etc. Being the parent of a 1 year old baby I can now see that the Teletubbies really do benefit young children. Those sounds are the ones our daughter can make and as a result she associates well with the characters.
More information is available on my earlier post Teletubbies TV, DVD and Game Reviews.
Another of our daughter's favourites is Balamory, a live action programme. This is based around the fictional Scottish island village of Balamory, which is mainly filmed around Tobermory on the Isle of Mull. The stories are introduced by Miss Hoolie, a Nusery School Teacher, and often includes children from the nursery. It is based around a few main characters which the children come to know very well.
One of the things that Balamory does really well is to incorporate songs into the stories which our daughter really enjoys.
This is one of the programmes that an adult can watch without needing to prop your eyes open with match sticks :-).
We did look at visiting Tobermory when on holiday with our daughter, but in the end decided it would be too far for that trip. I think it will still be interesting to go there on a future holiday. See Days Out Diary - Scotland holidays and Days Out.
Me Too is another live action programme following a similar theme to Balamory based around a fictional place called Riverseafingel. This is filmed around Glasgow, Edinburgh and Newcastle Upon Tyne. Rather than being based around a nursery, the stories in Me Too are around the parents going to work, leaving their children in the care of Granny Murry. The story switches between the child and parent. Like Balamory there are a handful of main characters, and songs are used throughout the programme.
Tikabilla is a modern day Equivalent of play School which used to be on when I was a child. It even features the conceptual square, round and arched windows reminiscent of the original play school programme.
Tikiabilla includes actors from other CBeebies programmes / features and so are familiar to regular CBeebies viewers. It includes a fury dragon puppet character called Tamba, who acts like a child for young viewers to associate with.
Doodle Do is an art based programme with a presenter and then gloved hand characters. I'm not that impressed with doodle doo, but mainly because of the presenter. He acts and speaks as though he really doesn't want to be there. If he smiled or showed a little enthusiasm then I think it could be a lot better, but very disappointing as it stands.
Something Special is a programme designed for children with learning and language difficulties. It uses Makaton sign language throughout the programme. It is also quite an entertaining programme for those without learning or language difficulties, although older children may find it doesn't really keep their interest. This is one of the examples where it is good that the BBC is funded by TV licenses, as it's unlikely that commercial channels would get the return they would want out of a programme targeted at a fairly small audience.
As I've posted before we've been teaching our daughter baby sign language, and after the book and DVD we bought Something Special is one of the best ways of learning Makaton and then teaching it to our daughter. I great programme and it's good to see some of the TV license money being used for this small, but very important, number of target viewers.
The DVDs for Something Special only appear to be available from the BBC Shop, but the price is quite high, and the most have been unavailable for over 2 months now.
One other programme I'm not particularly keen on is Tot's TV. It's a puppet based programme that uses both English and French speaking characters. Whilst I appreciate that teaching children a foreign language at a young age can be beneficial I don't think that the CBeebies age group is really the right age. Many of the viewers will be still learning their first English words and that is too early (in my opinion) for trying to teach them another language, unless the parents already speak that language around the child as well.
Fimbles and the Roly Mo Show
The Fimbles are a puppet based programme around some stripy colourful creatures, with a slight resemblance to moles, one of the characters Roly Mo, is supposed to be a mole, but I think the others are supposed to be fictional animals. There are also other characters including a frog, a bird and snoots (fox like creatures in the Roly Mo show). Like the Teletubbies this is a programme designed and enjoyed by young toddlers.
The Roly Mo show is a spin off where Roly Mo tells stories to Little Mo, a young mole that is Roly Mo's niece. This programme is more about encouraging children to read books, which is a common theme across some of the other CBeebies programmes.
Other CBeebies Programmes
The programmes above are just a very small selection of those on CBeebies. Although programming schedules change here are more of the famous CBeebies programmes: Teletubbies; Tikabilla; Balamory; Roly Mo Show; Tweenies; Charlie and Lola; Smarteenies; Something Special; Fimbles; Tots TV; Razzledazzle; Boogie Beebies; Bob The Builder; Big Cook Little Cook; Me Too; Numberjacks; Jackanory Junior; Andy Pandy; Barnarby Bear; Bill and Ben The Flower Pot Men; Binka; Bits and Bobs; Bobinogs; Boo; Brum (visit the real life brum at the Cotswold Motoring Museum); Clifford; Come Outside; Dotty; Doodle do; Fireman Sam; Gordon the Garden Gnome; The Koala Brothers; Lazytown; Little Red Tractor; Little Robots; Lunar Jim; Muffin the Mule; Pablo; Pingu; Postman Pat; Pinky Dinky Doo; Rubberdubbers; The Shiny Show; Step Inside; Story Makers; Todd's World; Tommy Zoom; Underground Ernie; Wide Eye; and 64 Zoo Lane.
See the CBeebies web site for some games to accompany the programmes.
Also the guidance for parents on the CBeebies Grownup page - Babies and Screen time.