Sunday, February 14, 2010

TOS Review: Young Minds Math and Numbers

Truth? I loathe the idea of television for very young kids. I wasn't always like this; Jo watched more than her fair share of kiddie pap as I struggled to learn how to balance household chores and keeping a toddler safe. Right up until Logan was about two, I still shoveled out an embarrassing number of videos each week. Why? "I just need half an hour to make dinner." "I need twenty minutes for Jo's school work." "I just had a baby, I can't do it all." "It's the only way to ease him out of a bad mood/nap/you name it."

So my little ones watched videos. Probably about one a day, if I'm to be honest. I felt vaguely guilty about all of it, but I justified it by reminding myself that it was commercial-free, carefully-selected, and of an educational value. After all, if you learn the word "jump" in Spanish, it's a good thing, right?

Fast forward five years, and my current littles have near to zero screen time. Why? Because frankly, I just don't need it anymore. I've finally learned to cook in a way that the babies can be present and involved, employ my older kids when need be, have enough distractions on hand to keep little hands busy, and otherwise train certain little people to occupy themselves for the short stints that I am really, truly unavailable.

I am not supermom. I am just a mom who came to the conclusion that if I am deeply uncomfortable with something, I should quit making excuses for it--and acted on this conviction. I don't feel that everyone who routinely allows their toddlers and preschoolers to watch television is a blight on society. I do, however, feel like a lot of people get stuck in the rut that I was so firmly entrenched in. After all, it's just so easy. Put on a movie, and the kids miraculously go away for twenty minutes, half an hour, or more. When I confronted that truth in myself, I didn't like what it said about me as a mother. So I chose to make a painful change and learn to parent without the benefit of the electronic babysitter I'd so joyfully employed.

Aside from a rare, rare "treat," Oli and Mani are simply clueless when it comes to movies. Oh, yes, they still ask for them. They are well aware that the big black box sits vacant in the garage, ready to blast them with colorful edu-tainment. When they catch sight of it, they moon, "moooooo-ie!" But, like chocolate, they just don't get it that often--even though we have a whole bag of Mr. Blandings' M&Ms in the cabinet at all times.

I have not yet seen a downside to this, except for the fact that some doctors seems mystified by it all.

"Can he identify his favorite cartoon character?"
"He doesn't have one."
"He doesn't know any?"
"Well, no. But that's only because he doesn't get to watch them."
"Oh. O.k. Huh."

As I said, there are occasional treats. Moments when I decide that yes, this warrants a little passive and pacifying entertainment. For those moments, I do have on hand a select library of stuff that I actually want my little boys to be able to watch. Funny ... most of what once qualified as heavy rotation favorites are now long gone. In their place are just a handful of titles designed to fill a need while also being completely in line with our values.

So what has stayed? The good stuff. Things worthy of the precious minds of my babies. Things like Young Minds Math and Numbers from

I received a review copy of this dvd, and was very impressed. First, eliminate all thoughts of blink-inducing high-speed images from your mind. This is a gently paced video, beautiful shot and majestically presented. There are no cheesy cartoon character. No objectionable content. The sound effects (cows mooing, fighter jets speeding past) are authentic and not shocking. The images are artistic and truly worth looking at--not the usual Ball On A White Background that one expects in vids for tots. On top of all of this, there is a delicate soundtrack of classical music that doesn't overpower the senses. Add it all up, and this is a counting video that you won't mind seating your little ones in front of.

Yes, this video series is a bit more pricey than your average studio-produced song and dance extravaganza for the diaper set. At $19.99, it's an investment. But honestly, the quality is evident. You are getting what you've paid for.

Young Minds Math and Numbers is the kind of "mooooo-ie" I can endorse ... even for my toddlers.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

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