Like most things in life, all is good in moderation, and all has a time and place. I like to think of the television as an enjoyable source of enrichment and entertainment, but what place does it hold for the young child? In our home, a small one, and in conversation with other moms, I’m happy to know many share the sentiment. Before the age of two, the American Academy of Pediatrics states television as unnecessary. Other sources suggest later ages, up to five. With the convenience of television in our modern life, this could sound extreme, yet with the knowledge of development in our conventional wisdom, it makes sense. At a time of crucial language acquisition, relationship definition and movement mastery, what good can the passive state of screen staring offer? So, let’s muster a cache of substitutes, instead of’s, or better yet, necessities in which young children can engage.
At four and a half, little ev has embarked down the path of board and card games, the first in line: tic-tac-toe. As papa likes to point out, this row-making scheme requires no true skill but simply effort at paying attention. Perfect! For the novice at games, anything more would be complicated. In fact, paying attention to turn-taking, game-piece choice (“I want to be O this time”, says mamma.), rows both horizontal and diagonal, score-keeping, and end of game high fives are basic skills she’ll need to take on to the next level.
Keep the first few games simple. The first ten times ev and I played tic-tac-toe, we simply put our pieces down in turn. When I made a row, I walked my fingers over it saying “tic-tac-toe”. I did the same for her rows. Then we’d clear the board for the next match.
Progressively, I’d offer tips like “Can you block a row?” “Can you make a row?” When she mastered the row-making and paying attention to the point neither of us made rows, I said “Did you know we can keep score?” Then began the recording of our rows, to my detriment, as we now have to play to, not ten, but eleven.
Wait, did someone turn off the t.v.?