Friday, June 2, 2017

How We Survived the No TV / No Tablet Rule for our Toddler

Television and gadgets (tablets, smartphones) are surefire ways to keep kids busy for hours nowadays. Aside from keeping the kids entertained, some parents swear by the educational benefits they give to their precious ones.

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem!

However, several articles and studies can be found on the net regarding the adverse effects of television watching and too much exposure to gadgets at a young age.

Can Screen Time Cause Speech Delays?
Study: Kids heard 770 fewer words from adults for each hour TV was on
Relationship between Television Viewing and Language Delay in Toddlers: Evidence from a Korea National Cross-Sectional Survey
Doctors Raise Red Flag: Young Children Should Avoid Using Tablets
10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12
Researchers: Using an iPad or smartphone can harm a toddler’s learning and social skills

It's a good thing that our 2-year old son, Gavin, has learned to live without the TV and iPad for more than a year now. But previously, we'd let him watch Baby TV while my wife was doing household chores. Baby TV became Gavin's eating companion; without it, it would be very difficult for us to make him eat. My wife also downloaded Baby TV, Pocoyo, and Chinese tutorial videos from Youtube and saved them on the iPad so there's something to entertain him whenever we eat out.

Gavin's delayed speech development, however, prompted us to remove the TV and iPad from his system; according to research, kids who often watch TV are prone to delayed speech development. With the limited number of words that Gavin can pronounce and his inability to construct phrases, our pediatrician even advised us to visit a speech therapist. We felt that consulting a speech therapist that time was a bit too early, given that Gavin is usually delayed in the development milestones (for example, crawling, rolling and walking). Perhaps it's because Gavin was close to being a premature baby, being born 2 days after my wife's 37th week of pregnancy. So instead of heeding our pediatrician's advice, we decided to do some changes to his daily activities, which include the removal of watching shows from the TV and the iPad.

Below are some of the things that keep Gavin busy everyday, things that make him NOT miss the TV and the iPad.


You'd be surprised to know that even though Gavin hasn't watched a single episode of "Thomas and Friends" and "Cars", he knows the name of a lot of characters from the said shows. Thanks to the "Thomas and Friends" and "Cars" books that we have, he probably knows more characters from the show compared to other kids his age.

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Die Cast Toys from Cars The Movie

To others, the trains and cars may just be ordinary die cast toys that kids push (or throw). But if you think about it, parents can actually use them as learning tools.

  • The kid's memory is exercised when memorizing the names of the characters
  • It can be used to introduce various vehicles to your kid (trains, ship, helicopter, cars, tow truck, forklift, etc.). You'll be surprised that Gavin can recognize the actual vehicle, and call it by name, when he sees one.
  • It can also be used to teach the different parts of a vehicle (windshield, hood, roof, trunk, wheels)
  • Since the toys come in various colors, they can be used to introduce colors to your kids. Before, we'll ask him to get the red car, blue car, blue train, green train; what's the color of this car, that train?
  • The trains have numbers in them, so it can also be used to teach numbers. Before, we'll ask him the number of Thomas, James, Percy; sometimes, we'll ask him to get the train with a particular number.
  • Trains can be used to teach the concept of position: who is in front, who is at the back?

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! Die cast toys from Thomas and Friends

We also have wooden toys such as peg puzzles and wooden puzzles. Aside from being used to introduce new objects to him, they can also be used to enhance pattern recognition skills. From the start, we already knew that peg puzzles are educational toys, so my wife made sure to buy a couple of them. Little did we know that these puzzles can also be used to gauge your child's patience.

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- peg puzzles, wooden blocks

Our love for Lego started when my mom brought home a Lego Duplo set for Gavin from their Japan trip last year. Initially, we just built the suggested ideas on the box, as per Gavin's request. It was a fun activity for me and my wife since we can no longer remember the last time we played Lego. It took a while, however, before Gavin was finally able to make his own Lego creation. He just didn't have the patience and control in stacking the Lego Duplo blocks. But eventually, he got the hang of playing with the Duplo blocks. He surprised us when he made a crane (based on a Thomas and Friends character), a forklift (based on a Cars character), and a double decker bus! We then appreciated Lego more. Aside from providing a fun family bonding activity, it also helps in enhancing a child's imagination and creativity.

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! - Lego Duplo

I eventually got hooked to Lego as well (Lego Classic) and focused on building cars that Gavin can play with. He surprised us again when he started combining the parts from different cars to come up with a different, yet fully functioning creation!

 No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Lego Classic

Why we love Lego?

  • It can be used to study colors
  • It can be used to study numbers. I believe we can also use them as props next time when we start counting; study addition, subtraction; learn fractions.
  • It can be used to create designs based on a child's imagination
  • We can use the Lego Minifigs to teach different professions (pilot, fireman, construction worker, racecar driver, etc.)

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Lego Minifigs

Educational Stuff

Since we've decided not to enroll Gavin in daycare / pre-school yet (we felt he's not yet ready for it and it will just cause unnecessary stress to both parties), my wife just researched about homeschool / montessori activities from the net instead. If the homeschool / montessori learning resource is not available locally or is too expensive / impractical, we resort to DIY stuff. Anyway, it's easy to get DIY ideas nowadays from Pinterest. She also gets ideas / advice from homeschooling and mommy groups on Facebook.

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Homeschool and Montessori Toys

Arts and Crafts

We also want to expose Gavin to arts and crafts, so once in a while, my wife schedules arts and crafts activities. Often, the age-appropriate activities / ideas come from Pinterest and homeschooling / mommy groups on Facebook. I believe my wife also enjoys the activities; aside from being a mother and child bonding activity, she gets to try arts and crafts activities that they never did in school before. :P

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Arts and Crafts Materials


I want to raise a music-loving child, so this early, we already exposed Gavin to different types of music. Are you familiar with Vincent by Don McLean, Yellow Submarine by The Beatles, or Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Loggins? These are some of the songs that Gavin listens to and sings, on top of the usual nursery rhymes. My wife also added instrumental music to teach him the sounds made by different musical instruments. Lately, he enjoys listening to Chinese nursery rhymes, and sings with it (sometimes, dances with it too :P). We use portable / bluetooth speakers at home to play his music collection.

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Bluetooth Portable Speakers

We also bought some musical instruments so he can learn how to create music. As much as possible, we buy the real instrument (or something close to it) instead of the toy counterpart, so he can still use it when he grows up.

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Musical Instruments


If you ask me the activity that Gavin can't live without each day, it must be the book-reading / story-telling session. My son is such a book lover; even though he can't read yet, he loves going through the pages of his books to look at the illustrations. It's amazing that he checks even the smallest details, and you'll often here him say "what's this?" or "what's that?".

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Books

But aside from the illustrations, we're glad that he really listens to the story and tries to understand it; sometimes, he even memorizes the lines! One time, I was reading to him The Polar Express, I tried to test him by letting him "fill in the blanks" (usually, the last word or last two words of the sentence). The first time we did that, I was really surprised because he knew the answers! There were also times when you'll hear him recite the lines of the characters even when he's sleeping. :P

Because of Gavin's love for books, my wife learned to recognize and appreciate Caldecott awardees (I don't even know that a Caldecott Medal exists before!). She also developed the knack for choosing the books that Gavin would love. (I must admit, I'm not familiar with most of Gavin's books, and would probably not buy them because I don't know them, so it's a good thing I have my wife. :P) 

To encourage book reading at home, I installed a couple of floating bookshelves around the house, so whenever Gavin wants to read a book, he can easily choose a title.

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Floating Bookshelves 1No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Floating Bookshelves 2

No Tv? No Tablet? No Problem! -- Floating Bookshelves 3

Right now, you won't see a trace of delayed speech development in Gavin. He has exhibited good comprehension skills and he's very keen on details. He has also developed love for music; you would often hear him sing and at times, purposely change the song lyrics. Certainly, we've spent a bit more on the toys, art materials, musical instruments, and books to keep him busy. But definitely, we have no regrets on keeping him away from TV shows, cartoons and kiddie apps -- those things can wait.

Shameless Plug: Since we've already collected a bunch of baby / toddler books (both brand new and pre-loved), we decided to make a business out of it. :P Please follow Play and Learn Manila (@playandlearnmanila) on Facebook and Instagram if you're looking for brand new or pre-loved children's books. Aside from making sure that the stories / contents are something your kids would love, we pay special attention to the physical quality of the books we buy and sell. If it's something that we won't let Gavin use, we won't sell it; that's our assurance that you'll be getting excellent quality books. Need I say that our books are very affordable? :D

If you have questions or need book recommendations for your little ones, don't hesitate to send us a message on Facebook or Instagram. My wife, Jaimie, will gladly attend to your inquiries. :)

Lastly, since June is Daddy's Month, I'll ask my wife to include a freebie when you order from us. Just mention that you saw the promo in The Curious Daddy blog. Promo valid until June 30, 2017. :)