As a former Waldorf class teacher, I've seen first hand how unchecked screentime from films, tv and computer games can adversely affect young children as they grow, but I also believe in doing what I can as a parent to educate and turn a potential problem into an opportunity.
So, while my five-year-old daughter doesn't play with computers or watch television at home, I've begun to watch films with her and expose her to the whole history of moving pictures in a way that mirrors her own growth and understanding.
My goal is to watch one of my favorite films, The Sound of Music (1965), with her but not before she's experienced far older and simpler films - all of which lead up to and inform the newer ones. The Sound of Music is a complex film in both story and effects, but certainly nothing like current films that use digital animation, fast editing and extremely mature dialogue to keep kids entertained.
She's going to eventually see a lot of stuff on the screen (at friends' houses if not our own) and I'd like to give her a really good background in where all these things come from so that she can navigate it in a really strong way. It's also proving to be an amazing education for me.
So, this year we started to watch films together at the rate of about one a month (we often don't watch the whole thing in one sitting), we often watch them over again (kids are great about this), and we always watch them together. We started with the oldest films I could find, which are silent and are just about to enter the talkies of the 1930's. As I've looked around, I've found some particularly good ones that I wanted to list, and which I'll keep adding to. If you have any recommendations, please add them in the comments. These are our faves so far.
These early films are short and all silent (Modern Times has sound effects and the the first words Chaplin ever spoke on film). One AM is only 20 minutes long, which is perfect for a five-year-old. The longer films we often watched over two or three nights.
DISCLAIMER: If this whole notion seems very antiquated to you or impossible to effect OR too liberal, my apologies in advance. It's certainly not easy to raise children and everyone has different home cultures, but I've just found that this works well for our home.
Seen at Age 5 - Silent films
Age 6 - Talkies from the 30's
- 1933-6 The Little Rascals
- 1965 The Sound of Music - Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer (couldn't resist)
- 1933 Duck Soup - The Marx Brothers
Age 7 - Films from the 40's & 50's
- 1940 The Great Dictator - Charlie Chaplin
- 1958 Mon Oncle - Jacques Tati
- 1953 Mr. Hulot's Holiday - Jacques Tati
- 1956 The Red Balloon - Albert Lamorisse
- 1947 Miracle on 34th Street - George Seaton
- 1946 It's a Wonderful Life - Frank Capra
Age 8 - Films from the 60's
Definitely: Singing in the Rain...
Age 9 - Films from the 70's
Woody Allen's Sleeper, The Pink Panther films...