“Baby Einstein Made My Child Dumb”! Yeah, Right!

Learning begins at home. I am a staunch believer of that view point, and take my responsibility as my daughter’s first teacher very seriously. My husband and I try to fill our house with fun-yet-educational toys, lot of colorful books, and educational DVDs. Debbie is perfectly happy looking at her books or playing with her toys. She also has loads of time to play outdoors, and loves running around the house hollering and chasing a ball as much as playing a tame game of ‘cooking’ indoors.

She is also a BIG FAN of children’s videos on YouTube, and educational DVDs. She loves Baby Einstein videos, Sesame Street songs, Dora the Adventurer (her favorite!), and anything with lots of toys or animals, colors, and loud music! I admit that I have a very selfish reason for letting her watch them… that’s the only time I can get her to stop hating food long enough to eat it!! Don’t get me wrong, we do have really fun eating time, when we don’t watch TV and concentrate on finishing what’s on the plate. Debbie can feed herself, and she does enjoy doing it. But sometimes, she gets it into her head that she can live on love and fresh air! and there is nothing a mother can do to change her mind… other than switching on the computer or the television…

Apart from the obvious value of these videos and DVDs (!), I really believe they are useful to a child’s learning process. Which is why I was shocked at the study published by the University of Washington, that the Baby Einstein DVDs make children… dumb… (to be very blunt)! The study says:

The scientists found that for every hour per day spent watching baby DVDs and videos, infants understood an average of six to eight fewer words than infants who did not watch them. Baby DVDs and videos had no positive or negative effect on the vocabularies on toddlers 17 to 24 months of age.

Well, I don’t know about that. Baby Einstein videos have pictures of these large and colorful toys in the shape of animals and other shapes that a child needs to learn about. I think it is much better to let a child learn the names of shapes, animals, fruits, vegetables etc. through song, music and fun than through getting a book out, pointing at objects and loudly repeating the names!

And anyway, unless parents simply dump their children in front of a TV or computer for hours together, I don’t think these DVDs are going to do any major damage. If parents want to take the easy way out and let their children watch TV all day, I think the children were destined for limited intelligence, DVDs on not! As a parent, it is my responsibility to decide how much time my child watches videos, how much reading time she gets, and how she learns about the world. If I go wrong with my planning, I don’t think I have the right to blame any one else for my bad judgment.

The Baby Einstein Company seems to be doing something good for children across the world. They are parents too, so I am guessing they must possess some parenting experience! Give them a break! Come on!! They are normal parents who decided to make a fun video for their kids… we’re blaming them that they did not do their research?!!? Ok, so the scientists who made nuclear bombs do a lot of research, so I guess wiping away an entire country is acceptable… I mean, criticising their work is one thing, but thinking people deserve a refund!?!?! Really now!

Too many people now are looking to shift the blame on some one else for just about anything. If your baby is not an Einsten before he is 2, maybe that DVD is to blame; if your boy is roughing up classmates in school, maybe the teachers are to blame; if your child broke the law, maybe the society is to blame… when a person commits murder, maybe the people who ignored him at work are to blame…

When did mistakes stop depending on the wrong choices a person made, and start depending on everybody else’s behavior? When do WE take responsibility for our mistakes? And when will we teach our children that when they become adults, THEY are answerable for their mistakes, and that they cannot shift the blame?

I for one cannot believe that some DVD is being blamed for children’s lack of learning. What do you think?

The Finish Line

I have never run many races in my life so far, whether rat or otherwise. So I do not have any ‘record-breaking’ memories to choose from when I think of a finish line. What comes to mind, though, is a ‘Rabbit Race’ we kids ran, back when we were in grade three, and the world was a rainbow. Apparently, I was on the other (more rainy) side of the mountain…whatever.

Anyway, our teacher, a wonderfully sweet lady with a beautiful singing voice gave us our instructions to run the race (but not in the form of a song). She should have sung it, maybe then everyone would have listened….I digress.

Anyway, during rehearsals (yeah, we used to have dry runs, many, in fact), the teacher said that little containers of mango juice (my favorite kind) would be placed on chairs at the start line and each one of us (dressed as rabbits – rabbit ears made from pink chart paper, socks on our palms for paws, and socks on our feet for, well, rabbit feet..duh), had to drink up all, she said All… the juice as fast as we can, and run (no, hop) to the finish line. Sure, that’s easy, right?

Anyway, (Gosh, I sound like Ellen Degeneres), the big day arrived, and we lined up for the race, every little girl with paper ears, sock paws and hopping rabbit feet. Our teacher blew the whistle and everyone hopped to the juice containers, picked them up, started sipping (so far so good), and…dropped the containers and ran….Hey wait! You guys are supposed to Finish the drink, and then run. I was following instructions and the others were finishing the race… where do I come from, anyway, gaaawd! No prizes for guessing what position I finished in at that race. My mom still has a picture of me at that race – lopsided rabbit rabbit ears covering half an eye, drink in hand, and a “What The…” expression on my face!

I look at the winners of that race now, and I wonder if they still have the head start – cool jobs, cooler hairdos, parties, pets, apartments and travel photos – while I try to not to burn breakfast, then force-feed it to my daughter Debbie, and get to work on time.

And then I turn around and look at her toothy grin and the love in her eyes, and I think, well, Mama Rabbit’s going to sip this one in, moment by moment, before the next race catches up… We got time to sip the juices, smell the roses …. The finish line can wait.

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This is my entry to the “WriteAway” contest over at Scribbit for the month of January, 2009. Check out the contest and give it a go. She has great prizes every time around!

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