Is it OK to let my preschooler watch TV in the morning before school?

Here's a secret: Almost all parents use the TV when they absolutely, positively have to get something done. That's OK. So long as your preschooler has plenty of active and imaginative playtime in addition to lots of time with a loving caregiver, she should be just fine.

Here are some easy ways to manage the time your preschooler spends watching TV and to improve the quality of his or her TV-watching experience:

Choose mindfully. Preschool TV shows that offer real substance are out there -- you just have to find them. If you can, record the shows so when an episode is over, your preschooler knows TV time is done.

Use the shows as a jumping-off point for related activities. Say there's a segment on Sesame Street about butterflies. When you can, visit a nature preserve, or get some books or rent movies that delve deeper into the topic.

Split it up. Instead of two shows in the morning, make a deal with your child. One show before school and one show after (so you can make dinner!).

Consider mixing things up. Many of the new apps available for smartphones and tablets provide a kind of hybrid experience of watching and interacting. Also, specialized learning tools such as LeapFrog's LeapPad and Leapster Explorer provide entertaining and educational experiences. Your preschooler is old enough to do a bit of self-directed learning for short periods.

Ask Our Experts