If your child has a favorite movie or television show, rather than sitting them down in front of the TV and letting them watch, make screen time educational. We’ve previously discussed three good television shows for your child, but do you know how to make the most of them? While you do need to limit your child’s screen time, limited sessions won’t hurt.

Encourage Engagement

Whether it’s learning about math or other cultures, encourage your child to engage in the show. Is there singing? A prompt to point out certain features in the show like a cat wearing a suit? Have your child follow along and actively watch. Watch along with your child and participate in the show as well by making active statements like, “Why don’t we sing and dance along?” In doing so, you’re showing your child that you’re interested in knowing more about what they like and want to spend time with them.

Ask & Listen to Questions

Television shows and movies can be a great way to start a conversation about a topic with your child. If the topic is new your child, like science, ask them questions about what they’ve learned and encourage them to ask questions as well. Especially if it was something they didn’t understand or especially curious about. Promote that curiosity.

If they ask you a question that you are unsure of, don’t respond with, “I don’t know” and leave it at that. Instead, say “Let’s find out together.” That way you and your child can learn together and spend valuable time bonding.

Make Real-World Connections

After each show, have your child make connections to the real word and their own experiences. Did the show make them remember the time the whole family went camping or of the time they had trouble with math? Ask your child to explain why the show reminded them of those moments and how they overcame a problem to promote critical thinking and memory retention.