Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unschooling Tools: Television

A cozy nest 

A little over a year ago we didn't watch television or movies except for the occasional family movie night maybe once a month. Lyle would bring the tv up from the basement and we'd hook it up for the night, and afterward it would go back in the basement. At the time Josh was in preschool at the local Waldorf school, and we'd never been much for tv in the first place so it seemed like a good idea at the time. And honestly, we were quite happy that way at the time.

We had planned on unschooling from an academic perspective from the time Josh was very young. Preschool was not part of our plans (just a temporary detour, never meant to be more than that) and we had no intention of him continuing at the Waldorf school or any other school (this is all a long story for another time), but for us at the time unschooling was about education and not about parenting or the way we lived together as a family. Now that seems nonsensical, but that was where we were at one year ago. Then last April we went to a radical unschooling conference and started shifting toward this different way of living and partnering with our children. With that came the relaxations of limits we had placed on many things, including food, computers, video games, and television/movies.

So here we are a year later and the kids watch as much tv (or videos) as they like. We don't actually have a television subscription right now, but we have found we can pretty much find any show we want online somewhere or through our library. We rent newer movies through Redbox. Most of the time our kids prefer to watch the same things over and over so DVDs and youtube seem to be the primary way we view television these days.

 Chillin' in a hotel room 

For us it looks like this:
  • Winnie the Pooh -- The new one that came out in 2011 was the first movie Lucy ever saw in the theater and it cracked her up.
  • Lego movies like Ninjago and Clutch Powers
  • The Muppets (old and new movies)
  • Spirit (a dreamworks animated movie about a wild mustang)
  • Curious George (the movie and episodes online)
  • Wild Kratts
  • My Little Pony -- This is a huge huge HUGE favorite around here. We have watched every episode from their two Friendship is Magic seasons multiple times. At first I was kinda eh about it, but honestly after watching a few episodes Lyle and I found that we really enjoyed it as well. Seriously!
  • Ruby Gloom -- If you haven't seen this, try it! It is a cartoon from a few years ago and it is entertaining for us adults as well as the kids. I love the intro song and the kids love doing the different character dances along with it. 
  • Looney Tunes and other old cartoon clips -- Recently we've started watching a few old cartoon clips like Animaniacs, Chip and Dale, and Looney tunes on youtube and the kids love them.
  • The "Buddies" movies (Treasure Buddies, Space Buddies, etc.) -- What can I say, these movie people know what they are doing. My kids love talking puppies. Lyle and I laugh at these movies because honestly, they are pretty ridiculous. But the kids love them and it is fun to see them smile and laugh and get so excited over them. 
  • Up -- We all love this movie. It makes me cry. Love it.
  • Tangled -- This is another big favorite of both of the kids. We have watched this more times than you would think possible, and I really don't mind it at all.
There are lots of other movies and videos they have seen, but these seems to be the long-standing favorites along with some of their newer favorites that we've watched recently. Right now we have the Disney animated Robin Hood and Cheaper by the Dozen (the new one) checked out from the library, but we haven't watched either one. That seems to happen a lot. We'll check out a stack of movies from the library and only wind up watching one or two of them before we have to take them back.

I have to laugh a little looking at the two photos above, both of which I took specifically to have a photo to go along with this post. My kids rarely look like this while watching movies. For us, television doesn't seem to be a very sedentary experience. For the first photo, I actually asked them to sit still for a minute so I could snap the photo. I kept trying to get a photo but at least one of them was always a blur, which is a familiar sight around here. Most of the time they are jumping up and down and running around the room, playing with others things as they watch, jumping from the couch to the beanbag or spinning around on the floor. Honestly, I think reading tends to be a far more sedentary activity around here (though even then, Josh tends to hop around as I read to him).  We often snuggle up on the couch together to watch, and more often than not Lyle and I find ourselves having trouble hearing or paying attention to the movie because there is too much other activity and noise in the room (they don't seem to stay snuggled up for long!). Anyway, that is just a little observation from our personal experience. I know a lot of people talk about tv like it turns kids into zombies who can't drag their eyes away from the screen, and that just hasn't been our experience since we stopped placing limits on television.

Check out Stephanie's post on Unschooling Tools: Television.


  1. Love this post and I love that our kids have such similar taste in movies and TV! MLP and Ruby Gloom are definitely family faves here! As I type this the girls are watching the MLP wedding again and I'm sure there will be more RG watching later too! :)

  2. Big big MLP fans over here too, Annie! We've watched all the episodes more times than I can count. In fact the theme song is running through my head right now, ha ha! Tangled as well is a favorite. They also love the Backyardagains, Winnie the Pooh, and old Mickey Mouse/Donald Duck/Chip and Dale clips on YouTube.
    Oh yes, and TV watching is not sedentary at all in our house as well! It's actually really hard for Nick and I to pay attention to a movie if we try to watch it with the kids because they are too loud!

    1. Also, I love Lucy's lack of clothing in both the pictures :)