One thing I'll be exploring here is my own effort to raise my kids bilingual. I've found that it's a lot easier to give other parents advice about that, than to implement it in my own household! Among these issues is whether showing Spanish teaching DVDs is actually helpful.
Of course I realize that the American Pediatric Association recommends almost NO TV at all for kids under 2. And a recent study says that DVDs like Baby Einstein don't help language and intellectual development at all, but rather harm it!
Wow as I say this my oldest, Bubby, is watching the Lion King on PSP - Sony's handheld device that can play movies - which
I guess I should feel terrible about!
But I don't. For me, being a stay at home mom means sometimes having to use a virtual babysitter - which DVDs can sort of be. This doesn't mean I think he should watch DVDs all day long, or that I shouldn't be super picky about what he watches. A kind auntie sent him Kung Foo Panda for Christmas - and after a few minutes there were monsters fighting with balls and chains, and that DVD got axed quickly.
But trying to manage 2 children with household duties and working from home, it almost comes down to a choice between daycare or having somebody else come in and watch them for a few hours a day, and finding ways to keep me super exuberant and precocious toddler busy at key times when I just need him to be calm.
As for language development, I find it hard to believe any study that says that kids become morons after watching DVDs. In fact my son's vocabulary has exploded in recent months, and it's also full of words he picked up from his favorite DVDs. Also, I think watching programs has helped him understand social interaction a little bit - as being a stay at home mom leads to your kids being a bit isolated compared to kids who go to daycare. He does have a playmate who comes over once or twice a week, but as we live in Alaska it isn't easy to throw him in the car and take him to the local playcenter.
Now the key part for people interested in Spanish: can these DVDs help my child?
That's a work in progress! I've got about 6 or 7 different Spanish teaching DVDs. He does love the Professor Parrot one, and has learned several numbers and body parts already. But I also read to him in Spanish, and he has several bilingual toys as well.
I'm fascinated with the "Teach your Baby to Read" method, and am creating a custom DVD for Bubby and Julia that is an animated presentation of vocabulary and picture flashcards. I haven't had time to work on it lately, but I show Bubby this video on my computer a couple of times a week - and so far I can't say that he has truly learned to read any of the words. Still I think this could be a cool thing for Spanish learning as well, so I'll have samples up here soon. I'd like to also look around for some open source Spanish books for kids - preferably with color pictures - as I'd like to put up a storybook with audio that people could do with their children in the Home School Spanish Members Zone.
As I read to my kids every day, maybe that's why I don't feel as guilty as I should about letting my toddler watch DVDs!! I realize that many parents feel very strongly about this issue, so I welcome any comments people may have.