Monday, October 4, 2010

To Each Their Own.

We chose a Waldorf Inspired school (Steiner for you Europeans) for the seven year old.
I spend a lot of time feeling like I have to defend that choice.

The main sticking point seems to be the media policy.
Our school recommends very limited exposure to media.

I liked that idea. It allows my child to use her imagination.
Once a picture from a film or TV is planted in your brain it is hard to remove.
Show a child from the Western world a clown fish and they will say "Nemo."

It also allows my child her childhood.
I am often told "I watched movies and TV as a kid - it never did me any harm."
If that's true - good for you.
It is not true for me.
I was traumatized by most of the movies I saw - Bambi for one and don't get me started on the child catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
Those images caused me nightmares and fear.

I"m not sure we need to experience fear to that degree when we're little.

I know snuggling up with your kids on movie night is a lovely experience but if the movie scares them - who was it fun for?
The formula for 'kids' movies always seems to involve the death of a parent and a scary character - so that good can triumph over evil.
In my experience kids under eight don't need a moral lesson. A story about a bunny who meets his friends in the woods, has a picnic and plays some games is perfectly entertaining when you are five.

Violent, brutally violent, TV is on or advertised 24/7 nowadays. Once the TV is on the chances of accidental exposure are upped significantly. In my view commercials have no place in a child's mind at all.
We once found the three year old downstairs at four in the morning watching a Jackie Chan movie.
She woke - thinking it was morning, got up and since no-one was around turned the TV on. She didn't know about channel changing so she watched the channel we had left it on.
Since it was 4am and she seemed perfectly happy, don't think I wasn't tempted to get her a bag of popcorn so I could go back to bed.

Don't get my wrong - I don't think there's no place for media.
I have used it as a babysitter so I could get a shower or just simply a break.
We use pre-screen DVD's with simple stories and slow paced editing.
The seven year old has seen our selections many times. It doesn't bother her.
The need for variety is usually parent driven.

In return my child sleeps peacefully, is wonderfully ignorant of scary characters and does not want to wear clothes more appropriate for a teen.
For me it's a trade that is worthwhile.
I have been asked what is wrong with High School Musical - it's right there in the title, there's nothing wrong with it - if you're in High School.
The themes in it are too mature for a seven year olds brain. That doesn't mean she can't understand it - it just means she might understand it in a way that's counter productive.

I want to read classic books to her and let her find her own vision of it. I want her to discover the joy of reading a fabulous book and have it spark a wonderful world in her head. If you've already seen the movie - I believe that opportunity is lost forever.

The fabulous library of movies I want to share with her are all still there - waiting until she's just a little bit older and ready to move out of the cocoon of early childhood.

The defense rests.


  1. It's sad if you really do need to defend your choice. No argument here on the TV thing (hey, we just cancelled cable after all...), and whatever choices you make for your child's wellbeing and education will never be wrong if they're considered thoughtfully and based on your own experience.

    I am all for public school education - my daughter is thriving in it but my own sticking point is I wish they would have a media policy too! It's tough explaining our choices as a family to other kids who are watching High School Musical, etc.

  2. I agree with Mosey. But in all honesty, my daughter loves Nemo and does scream it every freaking time she sees a clown fish, or most any fish. And I don't mind. It's one of a handful of movies she watches!


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