Wednesday September 18, 2013

By Gisèle Corinthios

When I started out as a TVOKids host in the late 1990s, I spent a lot of time poring over parenting books to learn all the tricks and tips to encourage early childhood learning.

Then I had three children of my own. Being a parent has had a deep and profound impact on me. I can think of no job more rewarding or challenging. And as any parent knows, you wear many hats—educator, counsellor, entertainer… 

But one thing I know, being on Gisèle’s Big Backyard has made me a better parent.  I've learned a lot about how to engage young kids and keep them interested in learning, by both entertaining and teaching. And I’m convinced that spending time hanging out with my kids helps me to be a better host.

There is a Gisèle’s Big Backyard segment called Pretend Play, where I communicate to the audience using lots of gestures and very little speech. All of the exaggerated facial expressions that I make are inspired by the reaction that I get from my kids at home. They have fits of laughter, so I try to give that same delivery to our viewers.

In 15 years, I feel as though I’ve helped to raise a generation of kids! I often think of the hundreds of thousands of viewers that I’ve reached over the years. I’m so proud to know that I’ve helped so many kids learn to read and write and to love math and science.

I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of children’s programming during such an imaginative era and at such an innovative media organization. We’ve often said that success in school starts in the Backyard.

As both a host and mother, I value the importance of preparing pre-schoolers for kindergarten. Helping set kids up for success in school is the single biggest contribution to the world that we can make.

And since TVOKids links all of our content with the Ontario kindergarten curriculum, we support children’s earliest classroom experiences. We always encourage kids to aim higher and learn more.

People often ask me for ways to help young kids learn. I say, make it fun. Play is essential to learning. Every time you can make a child laugh, you engage them. Once you have their attention, start sharing and teaching. (Sometimes, I do incredibly goofy stuff just to get my own kids’ attention.)

Overall I have learned that if we, as adults can be the people that we teach our children to be, we would all be better for it. To quote the great Mahatma Ghandi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”