Want to turn TV time into learning time? Free streaming videos from services like Netflix and Amazon are a boon to parents committed to a well-rounded education for their children—and not opposed to a little screen time on occasion.
How cool is it that we can now harness the power of the Internet and decades of film footage to buttress our children’s learning? As E.D. Hirsch Jr. has argued for a quarter-century, the early elementary years are the ideal time to introduce children to the wonders of history (natural and otherwise), geography, literature, art, music, and more.
By providing a solid grounding in the core domains of human civilization, we are providing two wonderful gifts for our children: A store of knowledge that will help them better understand the complexities of our universe as they grow older and a rich vocabulary that will make them strong, confident readers in these early, formative years.
Via Walking with Dinosaurs, for instance, my five-year-old already has a rudimentary understanding of evolution (paving the way for many scientific and theological conversations in the years ahead) and has absorbed key vocabulary, to boot (carnivore, herbivore, omnivore, Cretaceous, Jurassic, etc.).
Movies are powerful devices for teaching and learning—why else would so many of us pay good money to see documentaries? The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, PBS, and the other purveyors of lifetime learning know how to make educational content come alive.
– Mike Petrilli, President of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute