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Making the Most of Screen Time


Questions During Learning At Home

During the first half of WITF’s Learning At Home Block , from 10am-Noon, you will sometimes see questions appear in the lower part of your screen. Open-ended questions get us talking together about what children are watching and can help your child connect what they see with what they already know or may want to know more about.

Here are a list of the questions that may pop up and what they help your child learn and think about:

This question allows children to make a prediction or an inference. They can then watch to see if they were right or wrong. We need to make guesses like this all the time and practice of this skill helps children be able to make inferences in science, math and literature.

This question encourages children to think critically about what they are viewing, to become active in the program. Critical thinking is important in all areas of learning.

This question encourages children to think critically about what they are viewing, to become active in the program. Critical thinking is important in all areas of learning.

This question helps children to reflect on what they are watching and to make connections. Connecting what children are seeing to other things they might be learning about helps them to make sense of information and use it.

You can learn a lot about your child’s interests by paying attention to the things they get excited about.  Following your child’s interests, allows them to take control of their own learning, an important part of motivation in school.

Thinking about how characters in a program are feeling and how they might feel the same or different is important in building your child’s social and emotional intelligence. Children often identify with characters in a program and discussing those feelings can help build empathy for others.

This question lets children know that they should be wondering while they are watching. What questions do they have for you? What interested them? What might have felt confusing?

Trying to think about a big theme or purpose to an episode helps children to make both guesses and connections to what they are seeing. Connecting what children are seeing to other things they might be learning about helps them to make sense of information and use it.

Making The Most Of Your Child’s Screen Time

Watching television programs with your child can be helpful for your child’s emotional and academic development. Viewing together or “co-viewing” helps us see and hear what our children see and hear. Television and movies provide our children with information — some is factual and some is not. Images on the screen can also bring out strong feelings. When we watch TV or a movie with our children, we can ask questions to help them think about what they see and learn.

We can also help children make connections to what they learn at home and in school. If your child is watching a Wild Kratts episode, ask your child which animals are the same as those in a book that you have read. Where else have you seen this animal? Maybe you saw it on a trip to the zoo. This changes just viewing a program to active learning.

Programs might also reveal your child’s interests. If they are excited about a Pinkalicious and Peterific episode, you might decide to paint together using your child’s favorite color or maybe explore patterns like Peg + Cat.

Co-viewing TV or movies with our children lets us talk about important ways to behave. An Arthur episode might show someone being a good friend and may also show someone not being a good friend.  You can also talk about how it feels good to be liked by others and how to handle peer pressure. When families and children watch media together, you share ideas and feelings, which presents an opportunity for learning.

Other ways to extend learning:

  •  Find books that highlight the content of programs your child enjoys.
  • After your child watches a program, encourage her to draw a picture about what she saw or heard.
  • Plan to do activities with your child that relate to the theme or story of a program he watched.
  • Encourage your child to talk to the television or screen when she is watching a program.
  • Choose programs for your child that encourage creative and critical thinking and make her want to learn more.
  • Help your child make connections between what he sees on television or a screen and his own everyday life.

Different Kinds of Questions

There are lots of different kinds of questions you can ask to help your child think about what they have just been watching. The goal is to try to ask “open-ended” questions—questions that don’t really have a yes or no answer. “Did you like school today?” can be answered yes or no but “What are some things you learned at school today?” allows your child to answer with a broader response.

Bloom’s Taxonomy helps educators shape their questions and progress into questions that will really get children thinking.

Bloom starts with KNOWLEDGE questions which ask children to remember or recall something like “what color was the girl’s baseball hat?”

Next comes COMPREHENSION questions which require children to summarize something in their own words like “Can you explain what was happening in the baseball game?”

The next few question types promote a little more deep thinking. Educators try to ask these types of questions more frequently.

APPLICATION questions ask children to apply or transfer learning to their own life or in a way different that how it was taught. “How does this baseball game compare to a baseball game you may have played or seen?”

ANALYSIS questions encourage children to think of material as parts and to describes patterns and relationships among those parts. You may ask “What is the relationship between the girl and the pitcher? Do you think they like each other? Why or why not?”

SYTHESIS questions encourage children to create something new by using a combination of ideas. You may ask “How would you design the team’s baseball hat? Where is another interesting place this story could occur besides a baseball field?”

Finally, EVALUATION questions ask children to form opinions and make decisions. Questions like “Which character was your favorite and why?” or “What was your favorite part of the story?” allow children to think critically about what they have seen.

Ideas For When You Can’t Watch Together

We are not always going to be able to watch every show or movie with our children. Children are exposed to television and movies everywhere they go — doctors’ offices, friends’ houses, restaurants and schools.

Take an active role and ask open-ended questions after your child has watched a program — whether or not you were there. Some great questions are:

  • Tell me what happened in the show.
  • What did the characters do?
  • Do you agree with what the characters did? Why or why not?
  • What did the characters talk about?
  • How did you feel watching the show? Why?
  • What was your favorite part? Why?
  • What part didn’t you like? Why?
  • What questions do you have?

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