Every day there are free or very low-cost options for viewing really great films and television programs. However, it is often difficult for people who have never thought of movies as schoolwork to make it into something truly educational. Never fear! I’m here to help you.
Having home educated for over 20 years, I used movies and TV constantly. One great way to use less educationally themed films is to ask your kids to create a sequel storyline. For instance, when we were watching “Spy Kids” about a decade or two ago, I would give them a starting point. For the second film, one where the girl has already had her time to shine, I told them that the boy should have a lead role. Then, I asked them how they would like to see that new movie play out. They had several ideas, but I said that since he had always been seen as a little boy, maybe a girl should come into the story. He’s reaching that age, I told them. Some said yuck, but not only did it all come true, but we even worked out that the president’s daughter should be the love interest! That prediction was spot on!
Historical films like “Selma” or “Saving Private Ryan” (please preview each movie and seek appropriate ages before introducing a film) should have a thorough review of the historical time period before and after. At first, you give a general overview leading up to the film’s subject. Afterward, you choose the path of study based on your children’s interest. For us when we watched “42,” for instance, my now-adult children and I discussed segregation, a topic that we all find disgusting yet fascinating. We talked about how it might feel to be the one person in the family kept from entering a restaurant. This was not just hypothetical, since we have family members across the color spectrum. It felt much more personal when they realized that their beautiful niece might have been told to stay outside and wait for us to finish our meal. Can you imagine?
Then, we watched the film, and several times, my sons stood up and shouted at the screen. They think I’m silly when I do that during suspenseful murder films, but now I had the right to giggle at them. Yet, no one was giggling. We were mesmerized. Afterward, we talked about different things that stood out for us, and at least one of us Googled (looked up) some information about the film. This is education in color!
My little nieces and nephews and I watched “Star Trek,” which is clearly not science class, yet while we watched the people communicating with handheld devices, I could tell them that nothing even close to that technology existed when I was a child. Phones were attached to the wall with a cord and you had to walk only as far as that phone cord could take you. They were impressed that science geeks who made this program could foresee a time when cell phones might exist. They also found that the phasers set to stun acted a lot like stun guns. We discussed when police should switch from stun guns to firearms. We discussed why police cannot immediately execute an obviously guilty suspect. We even talked about the food that they used aboard the Enterprise, which seemed to appear out of thin air. They are eagerly anticipating that technology!
Make a movie night for your family tonight. I received an email which gave me the idea. From now until March 8, 2018, you can rent one and get one free for one night at Redbox with this code: 7TV7DFKC
I hope you get to use it now, but if not, go through your usual movie and TV watching methods and come up with a free great movie night choice! The point is, talk, talk, and talk some more with your kids. You can use this idea to start influencing their thinking now, and turning it in a productive direction. Isn’t that a great plan?