|“Children’s minds absorb an incredible amount of information each day.” — Jill Denlea, Brainy Baby
Videos and DVDs enchant infants and toddlers. The bright colors and fun songs in the most popular series help them learn shapes, letters and numbers. Today’s videos and DVDs go a step further, targeting specific parts of the brain to encourage specific reactions to their lessons.
“Learning, in a nutshell, is knowing something today that you didn't know yesterday,” Jill Denlea, marketing director of The Brainy Baby Co. (ToyShow), told TDmonthly Magazine. The Brainy Baby Learning Library comprises educational videos, books, games and toys for children ages 6 months to 5 years. “Children's minds absorb an incredible amount of information each day,” Denlea added.
Ranny Levy, president of the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media, agreed. “Our belief is that all programs are educational for children,” Levy said. “It’s a matter of what they’re teaching. Children are always learning behavioral techniques. They’re learning how the world works and how people behave in the world.”
Parents recognized this and jumped at the chance to grab an “adult time-out” that would also educate their children. “We’re suckers for anything called 'educational,'” a child psychologist who requested anonymity said. He added that although videos for infants and toddlers are not much more than momentary distractions, those for older children show promise.
“Educational” DVDs range from teaching the alphabet to more complex ideas. Brainy Baby Left Brain and Right Brain DVDs target the left or right sides of the brain. A new concept in DVDs comes from NiteLite DVD (ToyShow), a company founded a year ago by parents Kristin and Gerard Fusaro. NiteLite DVD uses controversial “sleep learning” research to embed its lessons in a child’s brain.
“Sleep-learning reinforces what is learned during the course of the day,” claims Kristin Fusaro. “[Our DVD] is constantly looped; if the child wakes up, the child will hear something familiar.”
Repetition keeps children’s attention and also helps them retain information, according to Levy. DVDs and videos, with parents’ ability to pause and replay parts instantly, are perfect media for that.
But what do consumers and retailers look for in such DVDs? Mary St. Onge, who has operated BabyPlace/ToyPlace for 22 years in Goshen, N.Y., told TDmonthly that she seeks “something a little different” in her store. Along with the Baby Einstein line of DVDs and videos, St. Onge likes “I Love Toy Trains” by TM Books and Video.
St. Onge also sees a market for parenting DVDs. Another draw is videos that encourage parent/child interaction. Levy recommends that retailers and consumers look for endorsement from known parent and children’s organizations.
Consumers view infant/toddler videos as educational toys, according to Heather Maclean, president of Little Laureate videos. “Both toy and mass-market retailers would greatly benefit by displaying infant/toddler videos with the other educational toys.”
The following DVDs are a small sample of educational choices available for babies and toddlers:
This NiteLite DVD was developed to aid children as young as 3 months in learning the building blocks of language through the use of repetition. This animated alphabetical video is composed to the soothing sounds of the Alphabets song. This DVD helps to create a positive learning environment, with its warm, gentle glow and soothing melody. Parents can select their child´s favorite video or play all three in sequence. The DVD features cows, fish and stars, and comes wrapped in a white infant t-shirt.
This 55-minute show features marvelous live-action scenes of both real and toy trains, educational segments and funny toy train bloopers — all set to whimsical original songs by award-winning composer James Coffey. Hosted by 12-year-old Jeff McComas, this is the final episode of this highly successful, 15-volume series.
Paintings come alive in time to a fully orchestrated score that includes Mozart and Beethoven, allowing children to experience the rhythms, textures and patterns in the art and the music. It is a viewing pleasure for both infants and their parents.
Spectacular live footage and traditional animation specially suited for young eyes is used to explore historical landmarks and works of art and introduce friendly native animals. Even parents will be entertained by this lively video.