Documentary Brain Food

How selective TV viewing can help your child to get to the top of the class

TV or not TV? That is the Question. 


Research from Ofcom has found that children tend to be more in control than ever when it comes to choosing what they watch on television and on screens. And the ever-growing number of screens per household is making it harder to control screen-time.

I am old enough to remember the days of watching TV with the family when there were only three channels - and one screen. If someone wanted to watch To the Manor Born, then we watched To the Manor Born. There wasn’t really a choice. On Thursdays we watched Top of the Pops at 7pm followed by Tomorrow’s World. And then years later - I was on Tomorrow’s World! Who would have thought that might happen?! (Obviously, Top of the Pops wasn't meant to be...)

We no longer turn on and tune in to watch a specific programme at a specific time because technology has made it possible to watch whatever we want whenever we want to. And the discussion about whether or not to watch TV revolves around the idea that it might be harmful to our children.

Television has been used to explain away many of the ills in society: violent behaviour, obesity, attention span and so on. I believe that it depends on what you watch, where you watch and how much you watch. I encourage you to research what's out there, and then select appropriate viewing for your child, things you think he or she might like. Screen time should be monitored carefully, and it’s a good idea to have a ready made list of TV suggestions, particularly if your child has the tendency to choose something that you know is probably not a great choice. I'd also suggest you watch with your children: spend some time together and talk about what you've seen.

This week, the 7 gems of wisdom are to be found inside my extensive DVD collection (can you believe I still own DVDs?!). I have so many I can't even begin to count them. (That's hyperbole by the way ... a literary technique your child should learn to spot ... page 44 of Revision Fun for Clever Kids.)

This is your chance to sneak in some stealth education. Their general knowledge will improve and they might even feel as if they are relaxing … but really - fingers crossed - they will be LEARNING!!!!

BUT MAKE IT FUN …. Give them popcorn! 




Seven Worlds, One Planet

Another incredible documentary from Sir David Attenborough and the BBC’s Natural History Unit.  This seven-episode series focuses on the extraordinary wildlife stories and unseen wilderness of our seven unique continents. Watch it on BBCiPlayer.

And if you want to remind yourself of another spectacular, environmental epic from the BBC, watch Planet Earth I and II. The bonus 10 minute films at the end of each episode take a behind-the-scenes look at the challenges of filming the series. An amazing clip of iguanas vs snakes can be seen here - nail biting stuff!


How Earth Made Us

Professor Ian Stewart shows us how geology, geography and climate have shaped our history, revealing the importance of the power of our planet. Epic storytelling, stunning camera-work and extraordinary locations. Buy the DVD here.


Kings and Queens - The real dramas of Britain’s greatest monarchs

Dr. Nigel Spivey tells us the story of twelve of Britain’s kings and queens with dramatic reconstruction and storytelling. An easy way to build up history knowledge ... from William the Conqueror to Elizabeth II. In my family, this is a classic and you can find many episodes free on YouTube.


Artists, Explorers and Scientists

Three DVDs telling the stories of 5 famous figures in colourful 10 minute films. Rembrandt, Columbus, Pasteur, Newton … the list goes on. The DVD comes with an activity booklet. Great for school years 1-4.


Horrible Histories

Why wasn’t history presented like this when I was a child? Brilliant actors act, sing and dance their way through history. My particular favourite is the World War 2 Pilot Song from Series 4 - any parent who remembers Take That will not be able to resist a smile.😊 Many episodes available on BBCiPlayer.

Kevin McCloud’s Escape to the Wild

Kevin McCloud travels to remote parts of the planet to meet British families who have decided to relocate to the ends of the earth. Escape to the Wild with them in this documentary, available on DVD, which rolls travel, adventure and architecture into one. 

The Face of Britain

Simon Schama looks at the stories behind some of the most powerful images in the history of British Art, exploring the development, character and meanings of British portraiture. His introduction can be seen on YouTube, and the whole series is  available on DVD.


Go on. Watch something this coming week … even if it's just one of these. 

Until next time.



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