One of the English learning exercises I enjoy playing with my class is “Finish the story”.
I start telling a story and then stop, and each child in the class adds on one more exciting sentence.
This is a wonderful, fun exercise that builds towards sentence and creative writing skills.
To my dismay, what should be a time of great laughter and participation, children have great difficulty visualizing or thinking of possible events to add to the story.
The children who find this exercise easy and fun are those whose parents usually read bedtime stories to them.
Which makes me question why watching television with all the exciting, action-packed programs available should not give children the same advantage?
Children have vivid imaginations, which should be encouraged by allowing them free time to participate in imaginative play. For example, children pretend that they are someone else and that an object represents something else, and creativity, where they can generate many novel or unusual ideas.
As imaginative play and creativity have so much in common, I will look at the effects that television viewing and story reading have on a child’s imagination.
For learning to take place, there should be involvement, understanding and a change in behaviours which often occurs with practice.
Reading is an immersive experience in which the child experiences all these areas of learning. Still, through play, they are given the opportunity to exercise their brain and use their imagination.
Hours spent passively watching a device such as a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or television is exciting and fun, but children are not required to use their imaginations or solve situations.
They often watch alone, so little guidance is given about values seen and mimicked, and they usually prefer lying on the couch than actively enjoy playtime outside with their peers.
The debate is still on which is better, books or television!
However, as a teacher, I have seen that children who read books tackle their school subjects and assessments with more confidence and diverse thinking.