About fifteen years ago, my daughter (and fellow Realtor) Courtney, decided to create a video for babies that would stimulate their senses while soothing them at the same time. She was then living in Scotland with two small children and had heard about the success of similar videos in the US, so decided to make something that would appeal to the European market. The video was called Tiny Minds and Paramount Pictures signed a contract for the distribution rights.
Several years earlier, in 1996, Julie Clark had introduced the popular Baby Einstein series, a line of multimedia products, including video programs, CD’s, books, and more. The videos, which were aimed at babies and toddlers, were known for their sequences of simple geometric patterns and visuals, often accompanied by classical music written by Bach, Beethoven, and Mozart. They were so popular that Disney purchased the company in 2001.
Fast Forward to 2019 and see what five-star rated books for babies are being purchased by parents for their modern-day “Baby Einsteins”. To name a few, HTML for Babies, Baby Code, and Java Script for Babies. You may ask yourself (as I have) “What in the world has happened that babies need to learn coding”? Is the next generation going to be tiny robots with computers? At first, I had that horrible thought but got some comfort researching exactly what it teaches.
As I understand it, the goal is to introduce STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) topics in a developmentally appropriate way. They are meant to present the concepts of sequencing, problem solving, cause and effect, and thinking step-by-step. By practicing these skills early, it creates a solid foundation for reading, writing, math and eventually, programming.
While I fully understand changing with the times, I can’t help but wonder whether future babies will still have the opportunity to enjoy all the simple ways we had of teaching our children about the world around them. Truly, I am filled with trepidation when a millennial tells me they can’t read my cursive writing or a school-age child tells me they cannot tell time on an analog watch. So for future generations I hope that in addition to their STEM topics, they also spend a bit of time teaching children using the “old timey” methods like nursery rhymes, playgroups, and family time.