Should you let your baby watch TV?

by Lucy Windevoxhel

Driving is something most people do every day. You drive your children to school, camp, daycare, the grocery store. I don't know about you, but I probably spend at least 40 minutes a day in the with my daughter and although sometimes I appreciate some silence in the car, I also love to spend that time with her playing fun games. It is part of our bonding experience, it gets our mornings off to a good start and the games we play are not only fun but also help develop skills that aid in language development and pre-literacy skills. So here is a list of our top ten games!

  1. Guess the song: I hum a song for as long as she needs to figure out the song and then she names it or sings it. Then it is her turn. Every once in awhile she cannot guess and I'll give a clue (while humming I'll say a word or two from the lyrics).
  2. Words beginning with a specific letter sound: We play this one a lot! One of us will say a sound (not a letter, but the sound the letter makes) and then we all start naming words that begin with that sound (e.g., if the sound is /M/ we start listing: mouse, mean, mom, marbles, etc). If she says a word that has the sound in it, but not in the beginning I'll acknowledge that. For example, if we are doing the /m/ sound and she says "Amy". I'll say " I heard the mmm sound, but I heard it in the middle ammmy".
  3. I spy: "I spy with my little eye" (or red, or green). We may give additional clues (it's in the car, or outside). We take turns describing the item until the other person guesses.
  4. Singing songs: We love to sing in my house. We sing exclusively children's songs. Sometimes to change things up we may sing the same song but make it fast or slow, loud or soft. This way we can introduce new concepts, in terms of their meaning and in terms of being opposites.
  5. Traffic light: At my house we started this as soon as she understood colors. We taught her the meaning of red, and green. In the car she used to tell me "MOM, stop, it's a red light!"(never mind that we were a block away from the red light!).
  6. Blinkers: During one particular boring day with slow traffic I decided to show her what the different lights on the cars meant (stop lights, blinkers). I showed her how when I turn left, I first turn on the left blinker. I remember as a child being very confused about left and right so we have started working on that concept VERY early on.
  7. Categories: I'll just name a category and she has to come up with as many items in that category as she can think. So if I say animals, she has to list all the animals she knows. If she runs out of animals I may give her clues so she can remember more. This is a wonderful language and memory activity. The child in turn can name a category and then you list items in the category. You can also name the items and your child can tell you what category they belong to (so if you say apple, pears, bananas, your child can say FRUIT!).
  8. Rhyming: Think of rhyming words. Sing songs and add verses using words that rhyme. Practice saying nursery rhymes. Make up your own songs using a known tune and practice your rhyming skills that way.
  9. Find the ____: Find a letter "D", or find green things, or help me look for a number 2. There are so many colors, letters, numbers and items on the road. You can find and count all kinds of things. You can count school buses, cement mixers, green signs or anything else you or your child are interested in.
  10. Story telling-change obvious parts: "Once upon a time there was a little girl who always wore a PINK hood". Get it? Tell a story that your child is familiar with and make mistakes. Your child will most likely DELIGHT in correcting you and it's a fun way to practice the language used in narratives or story-telling.

Before you start driving and playing with your child just a few suggestions. Remember that your most important job when you're driving is to transport your family safely so don't do anything that will distract you. In order to avoid frustrated children don't try to play games that require new skills . You cannot teach your child in the car, but if he just learned colors, or rhyming, or letter sounds it will be fun practicing it in the car. If it's not fun--DON'T DO IT--. The point is to bond with your child at the same time he experiences the JOY of learning.

Please feel free to email me other games you play so I can add them to the website!

Have Fun and Drive Safe!!!

About the Author

Lucy Windevoxhel

Lucy Windevoxhel

Bilingual Speech-Language Pathologist

Originally from Venezuela Lucy has resided in the United States since 1993. While pursuing a graduate degree she received specialized training in working with individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She is a certified leader in the Hanen Programs: It Takes Two to Talk and Target Word, as well as The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing (LiPS) program and Visualizing/Verbalizing. In addition she has specialized training in oral motor therapy through Talk Tools and Beckman Oral Motor Assessments and Interventions.