In my previous post, I spoke about parenting choices in times of #COVID19.
The choice, to take a pause and reflect upon lives we presently live; the choice, to share with our children our core values and also teach them basic life skills; the choice, to find inspiration within our homes daily experiences.
There is, however, also a need to connect with the world outside our homes. In times when we find ourselves physically restrained, the digital medium has become an essential utility in true sense of the word. Digital connectivity enables a crucial bridge to our key relationships, as does digital content to a daily dose of learning and recreation. This is as true for our children as it is for us adults.
Imagine the excitement of reporting to grandma the loss of your first milk tooth over FaceTime; or the joy of learning a new slime trick on YouTube. If they were already part of our children’s every day experiences, in these unprecedented times they are now akin to survival tricks.
Yet when some of us think of media use by children, it evokes feelings of guilt, anxiety and even helplessness in most of us parents. How much is too much? How do we keep our children safe from dangers ranging from bullies and predators?
There are some excellent recommendations shared by the American Academy of Paediatrics for ages 0-5 years and 5-18 years that I have aggregated in my previous posts (see hyperlinks).
The key takeaway for me in these recommendations is the need to focus on the kind of content being consumed, and not just the viewing time. Good media content can help our children gain exposure to news ideas, raise their awareness on key issues, offer opportunities for civic engagement and give them access to valuable support networks.
I have shared below a list of media recommendations that I have enjoyed watching with my child. Do take a look and do share your favourites too.
We are constantly told to monitor if the content our children are viewing is ‘age-appropriate’. Yet good films for children are scarce and most of us are left with no choice but an overdose on Disney movies (which are often great). But what can do beyond beyond that?
Enter School Cinema by LXL Ideas ‘an innovative film-based learning module’ and ‘the largest producer of short films for children in India’. During this period of lockdown, they have curated a series of must watch children’s films from across the world, where every day they share access to a film from their library (and will continue to do so till 20 April). We personally loved Myna and Asterix and the Waterfall both of which bridge the gap for the urban-bred kids with the rich and often challenging experiences of rural India. Watch them before the access expires!
If there is one children’s film that I have enjoyed immensely in recent times, it has to be the delightful animation Gopi Gawaiyan Baga Bajaiya based on Satyajit Ray’s Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne released on theatres last year. We have been ardent fans of the film’s songs and were excited to hear from Karadi Tales, who produced the film that it should be available on Amazon Prime in May. We can’t wait to watch and highly recommend to parents and kids of all ages.
Stories decoding #COVID19 for kids
Finding balance between sharing facts and addressing our children’s bewilderment at why they need to be away from their school friends & family, without exacerbating their anxieties has been a tough challenge. The Government of India has released this comic book Kids, Vaayu & Corona to share simple facts and precautions around #COVID19, as articulated by Vaayu, the superhero.
Karadi Tales has the beautifully illustrated Farmer Falgu Stays at Home, which explains in children’s parlance the need to stay inside. I love that it’s available both as an e-book to read and as an audio book.
Another engaging e-book is ‘The Mystery of The Missing Soap’ published by Katha Books. It borrows from the folklore tradition, deeming the evil as ‘GermaAsura’ who plots, along with the coronavirus army, to steal all the soaps, but is outwitted by the intelligent children from the village who create their own soap. We really enjoyed this one and our little one can’t wait to pressure cook reetha seeds to make her own soap. The book is downloadable in English, Hindi, Marathi, Tamil and Assamese.
Storytelling and storytellers galore
Leading the front has been Karadi Tales, which just concluded the first season of its Katha with Karadi series featuring storytelling sessions with authors, celebrities, musicians on Facebook Live, apart from free books and activities. We were only able to catch the one featuring the inimitable Usha Uthup , her voice and presence lending me comfort, and her original Karadi rhymes got the little one reminiscing about her school’s Annual Day. All the past sessions are available on their website as well as Facebook page. They have a fresh season starting from 16 April 16 and goes on till 30 April, watch out for that.
My dear friend Divya Bawa has been sharing some old favourites and new ones on The Story Band’s YouTube Channel, do take a look.
LilTrails has been another interesting initiative featuring meaningful sessions for parents as well as live storytelling sessions for children featuring seasoned storytellers such as Janaki Sabesh.
Finally, Audible has opened its vast library of audiobooks for children for free access. I find audio to be a very therapeutic medium. While visual content distracts and addicts, audio helps me focus and listen. The little one insists on listening to the same story over and over again – could it be that just like here mom, she too is in love with Saeed Jaffery’s voice? J
I have highlighted the resources from India as I noticed the ones from the west were prolifically shared by parents over Whatsapp. You could still check out the WideOpenSchool by Common Sense Media for a one-stop shop of grade, subject and skill wise repository of resources though it’s optimised for the American family.
I do hope you enjoy checking out some of these. If you don’t find the time don’t fret about it.
The sanest piece of media I have encountered is this quote by parenting expert Dr Laura Markham:
When you feel overwhelmed, it means your internal resources don't feel adequate to manage all the incoming demands. So stop demanding so much of yourself. You are under unprecedented pressure right now. Don't add to that by expecting yourself to become a terrific teacher or take up a new hobby. Keeping your family healthy, food on the table, and your own mood emotionally generous is your priority. Your children need your good cheer much more than they need you to educate them.
Ultimately in these times, we are all optimising for emotional generosity to ensure wellbeing – our own and that of our loved ones.