The post is sponsored by The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.
Mothers have been plagued with guilt for years.
It’s nothing new. Screen time guilt tops my list.
When I was pregnant with my son, my daughter’s screen time was increased substantially. Suffering from all day morning sickness was extremely difficult. Television shows such as “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and “Blue’s Clues” helped me get through those hard days with my daughter at home.
I felt guilty and I am not sure why. It’s not like they were horrible shows teaching my child to be a bad person. It was quite the opposite. After reading Preschool Clues I am no longer feeling any guilt about screen time because I know I am picking the right content for my children to watch.
Imagine my excitement when I had the chance to interview Preschool Clues author Angela Santomero.
Her work has influenced our children for years through hit shows she created like “Blue’s Clues”, “Creative Galaxy”, “Super Why!”, and “Wishenpoof”. She is inspiring, extremely smart (she loves research) and passionate about what she does.
A conversation about screen time for kids
A love for early childhood education is born
Santomero’s love for children developed when her younger brother was born. She was fourteen when her little brother arrived.
“Watching him grow up was a child development in itself. I was always a babysitter and around kids.” Santomero said.
Her mentor from a far, Mr. Rogers, influenced her path. While studying education Santomero wondered what it would look like to put curriculum on television to reach a mass audience instead of a few classrooms. There wasn’t very much on television she was proud of. Creating Blue’s Clues was the first entrance into her new found idea.
Should parents feel guilty about screen time for kids?
“We have been talking about screen time guilt since Sesame Street premiered,” says Santomero. “The idea that can we use media for good and is it education is out there now”.
Santomero explains that parents don’t have to feel guilty because there is media out there that is enhancing our kids’ education.
Santomero and her team have done numerous research on the television shows they produce.
“Studies have proven that kids are learning from shows like ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’. Our team has a ‘ridiculous’ process of making sure that kids love our shows, are engaged and feel bonded,” says Santomero.
“My goal is to make sure that anything they are watching they are better off for watching it.”
In Preschool Clues, it suggests that not all content is created equal. What does that mean?
“It means we don’t have to feel guilty if we are choosing the right media for our kids to watch,” says Santomero.
“Keeping a healthy media diet is important.”
What makes your television content beneficial for our children?
Santomero explains, “We have a point of view and a mission: empower, challenge and build kids’ self esteem while making them laugh. We think about the need and what we want them to do. In ‘Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood’, it’s not just modeling good behavior but giving children the tools they can use in their lives to practice good behavior. At the end of the show kids twill understand it and use it. That type of meatiness is what makes our shows different.”
Santomero adds, “We call it a Media Smoothie which includes: Engagement, education and interaction. When kids are participating they are owning that material.”
Creating worlds kids enjoy and learn from
Creating hit shows that are fresh, creative and engaging time-after-time is not easy. So, how does Santomero keep doing it?
Santomero says, “We have an amazing team who are invested and passionate about what we do. We are in with kids and preschoolers all the time and we get some influence from them. Also, I think it’s about seeing what needs are being eliminated. When we hear they are cutting programs like art education, we need to do an art show. What would that look like and be like?”
With a smile on her face, Santomero adds, “That’s the best part and my favorite thing is to think about what that world would be and would look like.”
Is it too late for older kids?
Is there a point of no return when practicing new parenting strategies?
Definitely not according to Santomero.
“What I have found is older kids are just big preschoolers. Active listening, diffusing humor, being more playful and the power of pausing are all strategies that can be used for for any ages.”
What makes your book different than other parenting books?
“We don’t get nutrition labels on media, we don’t know what’s good and what’s not and we need to demand it. As parents, we can demand what is great for our kids and the networks, creators will listen. Understanding what to look for and how we are feeding our children’s brains is helpful no matter how old they are. I also have a lot of extended activities that parents can be doing with their kids to teach them how to think not what to think.” Santomero says.
Follow the sparks, there’s nothing we can’t do as women
Curious to know how she keeps going during times of stress and failure, she leaves our conversation with a wonderful piece of advice.
“Follow the Passion and Spark. Being inspired and finding a spark four our kids, for example. When you see them light up when they kick the ball and you make sure they do it over and over to see the spark continue” Santomero explains.
“I’ve been following the sparks. The little moments that make me happy. Then, it starts to grow. Opposed to focusing on the negative, I focus on the positive which keeps me going. Once you put your mind to it, there’s nothing we can’t do as women.”
In a world filled with negative influences on our children, it’s refreshing to know someone like Angela Santomero. Someone who produces quality, educational content that all families can enjoy.
Preschool Clues is now available for purchase and here to help parents make smart choices for kids in this screen-filled world.