It’s been well over four weeks since I first read the overview of the paper published by researchers at the University of Washington and the Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Institute. I remember clearly when I skimmed through my Google Alerts that morning to read the reeling report published in the Journal of Pediatrics from these people. Its effect could be harmful to many parents who don’t take the time to study the study, to the companies specifically mentioned in the report along with those companies producing similar infant videos and to the educators continually searching for quality and sound educational products when compared to research and expert review.
WOW! I thought. How in the world does this type of press release about a study conducted via the telephone with its subjects’ parents (and not the subjects themselves) receive so much ‘air time.’ The morning after the s_i_ hit the fan the lead research dude was on the Today Show opposite Julie Aigner-Clark. I have to applaud Meredith Vieria who was the one conducting the satellite interview – she did not let this guy forget that this published study consisted of a small group of babies that fit the profile. She then made sure to mention that even though this team of researchers promotes interacting with your child to assist learning vs. plunking junior in front of a Brainy Baby or Baby Einstein DVD this team never once met their subjects much less interacted with them! (Who knew?!?!?! Unless you read the entire study, the press release gives you just the shouting-out warnings that they want the typical lay person to read and know.)
Now, I am no brain research expert. I don’t even suggest to hold a masters. What I do have is my years and years of experience as an educator in this country (with a teaching degree from my beloved Stetson University!). It is truly the years in the trenches that guide us on our journeys. The years of parenting three children whom – to date – far surpass their peers in most academic endeavors without ever once being placed in a ‘gifted program.’
And guess what? All three watched DVDs and TV prior to the age of 12 months! I still have yet to be locked up by the American Pediatric Society while maintaining my sanity as a new mom and as a single mom during one point of my life. Most of us do it (and if you don’t admit it then you are surely a closet DVD player!!!!)…..we catch the occasional shower during 7.5 minutes of a DVD we think is appropriate for our baby, we prepare some semblance of a balanced and nutritional meal for the rest of the family as little princess coos ever-so-contentedly at images of a puppet whirling up the old fashioned jack-in-the-box and we still can fall asleep at night knowing we did right by our baby and our family and our own self!
Didn’t our moms tell us to trust our instincts as new parents? Don’t we always have stories to share of just knowing we were right even when the Doctor’s office told us it was ‘just a cold’ that made our baby fussy (and it ended up being a fractured foot!)?
Here’s the bottom line – trust your instincts! You know how much is enough and how much is too much. There is a happy middle ground in this entire debate. Save your energies though, and don’t get involved in the debate. Let the experts have at it. Let Disney ask for the retraction from this team of researchers. And let’s you and I continue on with the business at hand. Raising our children to be prepared for a global society where language learning is applauded and not part of the budget cuts, where the arts are appreciated and not limited to once a week due to a funding slash in the educational budget of your state and to a home environment where you are your child’s best teacher.
Happy Educating! ¡Sea feliz educando!