Thursday, March 31, 2005

Baby Van Gogh – An Obvious Choice for an Artist’s Son!

Being the child of an artist (his father, not me!), getting the Baby Van Gogh video (from the Baby Einstein series) seemed a good idea. We didn't expect it to do anything more than entertain our child, but since it concentrated on colors, and had a lot of puppets and classical music, we thought this would be good stimulating fun entertainment for our toddler to watch as an alternative to his beloved Baby Mozart video.

It arrived and we put it straight into the machine to watch it. My son, by that time on his feet, was "cruising" around the living room and stopped to come and sit down beside us - about 2 minutes into the tape. He, like us, watched the entire video without moving. It didn't concentrate so much on the work of Van Gogh, although his major works are featured in small sketches, as on colors, and the antics of the puppets in particular a blue goat hand puppet by the name of Van Goat! He loved it, and even laughed at some of the antics the puppets got involved with. When it finished, he stood up and went over to the machine, wobbling on his still unsteady little legs. We rewound the tape and started it playing, and again he sat straight down and watched it all the way through. It soon became part of his daily routine!

As we were already working on his colors with him, I didn't really think he was learning anything new from the video until one day, when he was about 2.5 years, and I was browsing through a magazine. My son, sitting eating his lunch, looked at the page I was reading, leaned over and pointed saying "Van Goat!" To my astonishment he was pointing to a small copy of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" painting which was advertising an art exhibition. Ok, so Van Goat isn't Van Gogh, but it's not that far off, easily correctible, and more than many non-arty adults would have known. To say I was impressed is an understatement! My 2.5 year old can identify a Van Gogh painting. How about that? I couldn't wait to tell my husband when he returned home from his studio.

The learning curve of a toddler can obviously not be too overstated, and I'm glad that we were so careful about the things we allowed him to watch in his baby years. I never expected him to get anything intellectual from the video, but it's amazing how his brain has managed to retain what information does come through the play and music. Today, aged 4.5 years, he still enjoys these videos when he sits down to watch them with his younger brother. We've certainly had our money's worth from this video.

Katie-Anne Gustafsson

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