As the seasons change, we’re heading into the time of year when we spend less time outside, and more time inside. We allow more TV time during the late fall and winter than in the spring and summer, and enjoy the chance to rest a bit more after a busy farming season.
But I don’t want to just mindlessly watch TV. To encourage critical thinking, even when watching a show, here are some questions to pull out this winter.
Remember that television shows follow many rules of literature. Writers paid attention to the plot, setting, and characters. With a few guided questions, you can help your child build literacy skills by discussing the show you are watching.
Here are three questions that will help develop literacy while watching tv:
1. What do you predict will happen next?
Best asked during a commercial break, this question requires your child to connect the events that have just happened, and make a prediction. This question has no correct answer–it’s just a prediction.
You can keep an eye on how well your child is following along by the answer given, and you may find that some time spend reviewing plot is important.
Literary Connection: Prediction is crucial in literature, as it helps your child to begin painting a mental image, and taking the characters to where he imagines they should go. Creative writing skills and reading comprehension are some areas addressed by this process.
2. Who is your favorite character, and why?
Ask this question after the show is over, so your child has all of the information she needs to make a decision.
Literary Connection: Character analysis is a skill used all the way through high school in English. Help you child grow comfortable discussing characters now. You can discuss character traits (looks, habits, activities, etc.) as you talk about why each character is a favorite.
3. Did this show remind you of any other show?
Did the voice actor for a character remind your child of a different show? Was the setting similar to another program? Encourage your child to notice anything that made him say, “That reminds me of…”
Literary Connection: You’re helping your child to make connections between two or more programs. This can easily be changed to connections between two or more books. Being able to take information from one source and relate it to another is essential.
These questions won’t take much time, but they will help turn a passive activity (watching TV) into an educational opportunity.
I’ll still be keeping an eye on the amount of television time, but being proactive, watching it with my children, and having discussions will help this time not to be a complete waste of time!
What questions do you ask during TV time?