Good films and movies can teach us lessons about ourselves and lives, if only we are open to learn. Take the movie experience even further and engage in an informal chat over a meal with your kids; ask them how they felt about the movie. Ask them what did they like, dislike, who were their favorite characters and why, what actions they felt were good or bad, the list of questions goes on!
TNAP lists down our favourite movies for children, and what they can learn from these movies. For Part I, go to http://thenewageparents.com/best-childrens-movies-part-i/
- The Sound Of Music
The Sound of Music is based on the true story of the Von Trapp Family Singers Maria, a young nun in an Austrian convent. Arriving at the Trapp home, Maria discovers that her new boss is cold and aloof, and his seven children virtual automatons – at least, whenever the Captain is around. Otherwise, the kids are holy terrors, as evidenced by the fact that Maria is the latest in a long line of governesses. But Maria soon ingratiates herself with the children.
As Maria herself begins to fall in love with the Captain, she rushes back to the Abbey so as not to complicate his impending marriage to a glamorous baroness. But the children insist that Maria return, the Baroness steps out of the picture, and Maria and the Captain confirm their love for each other. But their happiness is short-lived, as the Nazis march into Austria. The Captain wants nothing to do with Nazism, and he begins making plans to take himself and his family out of Austria – and they make their escape.
What kids learn:
Any child will be won over by the spontaneity and optimism of Maria, and giggle at the antics of the Von Trapp clan. As well, the music is catchy and memorable. Perhaps what is most valuable are the lessons that family is to be treasured, trust is to be earned, and that there are some things in life worth fighting for.
A young pig fights convention to become a sheep dog — or, rather, sheep pig! The title refers to the name bestowed on a piglet soon after his separation from his family, when he finds himself on a strange farm. Confused and sad, Babe is adopted by a friendly dog and slowly adjusts to his new home. Discovering that the fate of most pigs is the dinner table, Babe devotes himself to becoming a useful member of the farm by trying to learn how to herd sheep, despite the skepticism of the other animals and the kindly but conventional Farmer Hoggett
What kids learn:
Most of the film’s dialogue is between its case of animal characters, however it is done so beautifully that children will be able to experience the emotions felt by these characters, and find themselves moved in the process. The story of the brave little pig, Babe, and his journey of self discovery, can be useful in introducing the concept of life purpose and giftings to young children, while also inspiring them to dream of what they want to be in the future.
- E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
Elliott, a young boy, lives with his single mother, his older brother Michael and his younger sister Gertie. Elliott often seems lonely and out of sorts, lost in his own world. One day, while looking for something in the back yard, he senses something mysterious in the woods watching him. And he’s right: an alien spacecraft on a scientific mission mistakenly left behind an aging botanist who isn’t sure how to get home.
Eventually Elliott puts his fears aside and makes contact with the “little squashy guy,” perhaps the least threatening alien invader ever to hit a movie screen. As Elliott tries to keep the alien under wraps and help him figure out a way to get home, he discovers that the creature can communicate with him telepathically. Soon they begin to learn from each other, and Elliott becomes braver and less threatened by life. E.T. rigs up a communication device from junk he finds around the house, but no one knows if he’ll be rescued before a group of government scientists gets hold of him.
What kids learn:
Courage is not always easy, but little steps lead to bigger ones. That sometimes, the people, things or events we fear the most are not half as scary or intimidating as we imagine them to be. All of us have fears, but courage is not the absence of all fear – rather, it is the willingness to go out on a limb in spite of those fears, to do the ‘right’ thing no matter what.
- The Land Before Time
Littlefoot, a brontosaurus child, must fend for himself when his mother is killed (shades of Bambi). With several other orphaned dinosaurs, Littlefoot seeks out the fabled Great Valley, where food and shelter is plentiful. Along the way, the kiddie dinos learn several vital (and politically correct) life lessons, all the while keeping themselves scarce whenever the fierce tyrannosauri gallumph into view.
What kids learn:
Besides getting insight into the harsh realities of death and mortality, the adventures of Littlefoot drives home the point that “if we hold on together, our dreams will see us through” – that there is power in numbers, in unity, and in perseverance.
- Free Willy
Jesse is a kid without parents who has bounced from one foster home to another and is living on the streets. Now he’s sent to stay with a new foster family, Glen and Annie Greenwood, with whom Jesse has an initially stormy relationship. Part of Jesse’s punishment involves cleaning up the damage he caused at the park, where the new attraction is Willy, a killer whale who is being trained to do tricks. Jesse and Willy, both stranded without families in a place where they don’t fit in, develop a close emotional bond, and with Jesse’s help, Willy begins to display aptitude as a performer.
However, Dial, the owner of the park, doesn’t much care for animals and isn’t happy with the slower-than-expected progress of Willy’s training; having insured the whale for $1 million dollars, he figures that Willy is worth more dead than alive, and Jesse, Rae, and Randolph have to rescue their aquatic friend and return him to the ocean when Dial seems ready to live up to his threats.
What kids learn:
Life isn’t always easy, and sometimes adults just don’t understand a kid’s world – but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for children to disobey or rebel. Jesse doesn’t give in to the downward spiral he seems to be in at the start of the movie. Instead, he finally decides to make good on his opportunity, and turn over a new leaf. Like Jesse, our children need to know that there are second chances, but they won’t be there forever. And like the Greenwoods, every parent is trying their best to make things work, and hopefully young viewers will be able to see that in their parents too.
Like Jesse and Willy, all our children need and want someone to believe in them, to cheer them on, regardless of their offences, mistakes or failings. Therein lies a powerful lesson for us as parents, too, as we seek to be their cheerleaders through life.
Movie synopsis extracted from http://www.rottentomatoes.com
By Dorothea Chow
Do you have any children movies to recommend? Share them with us!