I love the idea of raising children in a realistic setting, rather than surrounding them with technicolor toys or unattainable role models. I’m also a big proponent of forever learning – the concept that just because we’re all grown up and no longer in school doesn’t mean we should close the books on a great history, science or art lesson. Recently, “The Kid Should See This” caught my eye as a smart way to combine these two passions while throwing in a bit of entertainment along the way…
Curated by mother Rion Nakaya and her two children (ages 2 and 5), “The Kid Should See This” is a Tumblr playlist filled to the brim with kid-friendly (but not kid-intended) videos that stretch the imagination and educate the mind. A fresh change of pace from over-the-top animations and silly music, the videos are often high quality, thoughtful and span a variety of disciplines – always seeking to further knowledge in any capacity.
“About two years ago, I was looking for scat examples [to share with my son] and stumbled upon the most exquisite black and white video of Ella Fitzgerald scatting on stage in 1969,” Rion writes. “I showed it to him and he liked it so much that he was scatting all week. His excitement for Ella really affected me. I wanted every kid to see Ella scat and I figured that most probably hadn’t had the time or opportunity to seek something like that out. I wanted to share the old swing tunes that my Grandma liked. I wanted to surface the kind of content I watched as a kid: Mikhail Baryshnikov dancing, Jaques Cousteau specials, and Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom. These weren’t programs made specifically for children, but were made to be meaningful to anyone of any age.”
So Rion registered the URL and began gathering videos she’d already been sharing with her kids. Since then, the site has gone viral with teachers, parents and kids enthusiastically sharing inspiration and knowledge through a variety of platforms. “I don’t post anything that I think underestimates the intelligence of children,” Rion writes. “For example, I avoid “made for kids” animal videos that feature zany narrators, guitar riffs, and wacky sound effects. Why dumb it down when the subject matter is so compelling on its own?” (Sounds familiar!)
Although I’m only seven months into my journey as a parent, I think there’s some serious truth to this. I’m continually watching my infant daughter crawl around in our office, passing her vast array of toys for something more interesting – power cords, chair casters, backpack straps, shoelaces. It’s as if she can sense the reality and function of these objects, distinguishing them as objects from a decidedly more grown-up world. And although there’s something to be said for baby-proofing for safety sake, I’ve always wondered if, later down the road, kid-proofing is a cure – or the disease? I like Rion’s perspective:
“From being a kid and from my own parental experiences, I’ve seen how capable children are,” she writes. “When trusted, they rise to the occasion. They flourish when they’re not indulged. They learn how to make smart choices when given more information. I think that socializing young kids with adults can provide greater context for their experiences. When our kids are with us, they’re not as separated from our hopes, passions, questions, challenges, failures, and solutions. They witness our stories and can hopefully reference that as they grow up and create their own stories.”
Rion’s hope with her project is that she’s connecting kids, parents and teachers with high quality online content that can spark curiosity, conversation and further offline exploration. “I’m thrilled that the blog has tapped into a community that values education, creativity, and inventiveness,” she writes. “We’ve been embraced by people who love to learn things, and it doesn’t get better than that.”
I’ve shared a few of my favorite videos Rion has collected throughout this post. Here’s hoping you’ll find a few moments to share these with your own littles throughout the weekend. I’m bookmarking a few for when Bee’s older! Happy Friday, friends.