By Michelle Wyatt of Life in the Nerddom
When the “experts” tell us to limit our kid’s screen time it’s hard to wrap our minds around it being perfectly OK to homeschool with TV and movies. However, TV can be very educational if used in the proper way and in moderation.
Using TV and movies in our homeschool has saved my sanity, and it just might save yours too!
Every year is the same. That first day of school looms, and I find myself fluctuating between excitement and panic.
You’d think after ten years of homeschooling I’d be past this.
There is nothing to panic about, and I know this! Still, there’s this feeling that I’m going to miss something that we should have bought, or organized, or read, or…ugh!
The pressure that I put on myself to have everything “just so” before that first day of school is ridiculous.
Last year, I decided to try something new, and it worked so well that I’ll be doing it again this year!
I started the school year with TV shows and movies! Yep…screen time, and lots of it!
It was such a relaxed way to begin the school year that the kids didn’t even realize we were in fact “doing school” and I was able to ease into the year without all the pressure.
It was fabulous!
This post may contain affiliate links; you can find my disclosure here.
How Did It Work?
It was pretty sneaky.
I had already purchased most of our curriculum so I knew what topics we would be covering during the school year. I found videos, TV shows, and movies on those topics my kids could watch to spark their interest.
Since everything was strategically chosen to align with our curriculum, I was armed with the resources needed to follow up on questions they had about the show’s content. We moved naturally into our curriculum, and the kids didn’t bat an eye over it.
Told you it was sneaky.
Where to Find Videos
There are several different sources that I use for content:
- Amazon Prime
I’m sure there are lots of other resources out there, these are just my personal favorites.
We access all of these with our FireTV Stick, but you can also access them with a SmartTV or even your laptop, tablet, or phone.
Setting It Up
Before we get into the details of setting things up, you may want to download the free printable planning pack that I made for you.
The planning pack will help you strategically plan a week (or more) of educational programs based on the topics you’re covering in your curriculum!
It’s not necessary, just helpful. You can always write everything on a sheet of notebook paper.
Step 1: Choose Your Topics
The first thing to do is make a list of topics that you’re covering. This is most easily done by looking at the table of contents in your curriculum.
Science and history are pretty easy to find videos for, but you can also cover PE, music appreciation, phonics, math, nature study, geography, and much more!
Step 2: Find Your Videos/TV Shows/Movies
When searching for the topics that you’ll be covering, try to be as specific as possible. For example, instead of searching “human body” I might search “human body for kids” or “digestive system.”
The more specific you are with your search terms, the better your results will be.
Step 3: Decide What to Watch When
I don’t get too complicated with this step because I want to leave room for flexibility, but I also know that if I don’t have some sort of plan the kids will end up watching DanTDM all day (love you Dan, but the educational value is somewhat lacking).
I use the planning printable to write down three to four videos or movies that we’ll watch each day, making sure to mix things up with a little science and history as well as something just for fun.
Step 4: Make Sure You’re Ready for Follow-Up
Before you begin watching the videos make sure you’re ready for any potential rabbit trails.
I use the topic planning page to make a general list of books to check out from the library, crafts we might do, websites that provide additional information on the topics, pages in our curriculum to refer to, etc.
Here you can see our planning pages for one topic (Space Science) and one week of planning that includes videos and TV shows for science, history, PE, art, and nature.
This only works if you watch the shows with your kids. If you’re not watching with them, they are less likely to ask questions, or if they do, you’re not there to capitalize on that curiosity.
Discussion and learning won’t take place, and it’ll just be semi-mindless TV watching. This works with all ages. Just make sure that you choose age-appropriate content.
If you start a TV show or movie and decide you don’t like it or notice that your kids are getting that glazed over look while watching it, just turn it off and choose something else. Don’t keep watching it just to finish it. They’re not going to get anything from it, and you’re just wasting your time.
Using TV and Movies in your homeschool isn’t just limited to the first few days of the new school year. This also works when you’re sick, you need a break from “regular school” for a few days, or even if you just want to incorporate more TV into your days.
Don’t be afraid to add TV shows, movies, and documentaries into your every day learning. My kids have learned so much from watching things over the years, and so have I for that matter.
Television can be a powerful tool for learning if used properly. Finding enriching and educational content is key.
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