I'm not quite sure how it happened, but one day when I was seven years old, our TV mysteriously broke. We could no longer spend several hours a day watching sit-coms and cartoons, and thus it remained for six more years. My parents wisely broke the addiction that stifled our creativity and growth. Soon we realized that the worlds of music, art, literature, and gardening were more exciting and productive than Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch. My brother and sister and I all ended up with a lifetime love of learning. Many of the skills we pursued in our TV-free childhood days have served us well as adults. I fondly recall the many hours spent with my sister, reading side by side, designing our dream houses, writing zany stories, and going to Saturday morning music theory classes at the conservatory. My brother helped me with the piano. Mom and Dad took us to concerts and ethnic restaurants, and we never missed a school musical with John on the trombone or keyboards, or Barb at the cello. Dad later taught me computer programming and prepared me with a job skill that paid my way through college. As a family, we had become unplugged, but not unglued.
In our own household, we haven't totally gotten rid of our TV. We enjoy educational videos, some PBS, and the evening news. Putting limits on time is always a challenge! We occasionally put the TV in storage for a few months when it has consistently gotten out of hand. You can also buy a set with a “parental control” feature so you can block out TV access for hours at a time or filter offensive content.
Families need regular hours for the 3Rs of recreation, relaxation and rejoicing with one another to affirm their commitment. Why not try a few of these TV-free activities?
♥ Read aloud a chapter from a long book or choose short picture books.
♥ Write appreciative notes to relatives, missionaries, shut-ins, or each other.
♥ Produce an annual family newsletter.
♥ Write and illustrate your own books.
♥ Play thinking games, like chess, 20 questions, or Scrabble.
♥ Design your own game!
♥ Try sign language, Braille, or Morse code. Take a blindfold walk.
♥ Have an art contest or draw self-portraits.
♥ Bake cookies and deliver them to someone who needs a lift.
♥ Walk around your neighborhood and chat with whoever you meet.
♥ Take a nature walk and make collages with your specimens.
♥ Work together on a special household or garden project.
♥ Have family worship time with songs, prayer, story, and craft.
♥ Look at photo albums, show slides, or listen to old records.
♥ Tell stories of when Mom and Dad were young.
♥ Put on a talent show or dress up for skits. Make sure the camera is ready!
♥ Let the children try the old guitar or clarinet.
♥ Have a family discussion about topics like where to go on vacation.
♥ Go to a concert, play, art museum, or zoo.
This article is excerpted from my first book, The Real Life Home School Mom: http://www.virginiaknowles.com/thereallifehomeschoolmom
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