Courtesy Super Simple

Playing "Santa Shark" On Repeat Can Actually Boost Your Kids' Language Skills

by Kristina Johnson

The time your kid spends scrolling through YouTube videos isn't just a great way for moms and dads to get a break from chasing them around the house — it can also be educational. A couple of new videos from Super Simple, "Peekaboo Christmas" and "Santa Shark", are speech pathologist-approved, as they can help your kid learn new words pronto.

I should warn you that "Santa Shark" is a riff on "Baby Shark" (do do do do do do), so it might be a little bit irritating to hear on repeat several times a day. Kids love that kind of thing, however, so moms and dads will have to take one for the team. Writing in a blog post for Super Simple, speech language pathologist Andi Putt noted that the new videos are designed to help kids build vocabulary through repetition of simple phrases. Putt also wrote that the videos open up new avenues for creative play, because you can use them as a jumping off point for games like helping Santa Shark fix his sleigh or wrapping up all those presents.

I spoke with speech language pathologist Laura Brown via email about "Santa Shark" and "Peekaboo Christmas" and she agrees that there are some great educational aspects to them. "Santa Shark is good in providing opportunities for the child to work on 'WH'- questions — Where do sharks live? What are they making? Who is he dressed as? When does Santa deliver gifts? Why do we wrap gifts?"

Brown also notes that having a cute song and video to sing and dance along to is helpful. "It has been proven that play and other motor activities facilitate language development. Encouraging a child to get up and dance while singing, or pretending to be a shark swimming around is great to increase the likelihood that these concepts are going to be remembered and recalled later."

Super Simple has tons of other videos similar to "Santa Shark" and "Peekaboo Christmas", and they also get Brown's stamp of approval. "I highly recommend them to parents to engage with the child. I have used them in my special day programs, and have personally used them with my [3-year-old] son to encourage his language development. They are my [go-to] videos when I let him have screen time."

But Brown also has a big caveat about kids watching videos like these: "Videos can be effective, if, and that can be a big if, the parent is involved. Placing a child in front of a screen and just having them watch a video, is not as effective as when the parent is sitting with the child, and engaging in conversation about the video. Nothing can replace personal interaction when it comes to language development." That means the best way to get the most out of learning videos like "Santa Shark" is to watch with your child, sing along with them, do the hand motions, etc.

Brown suggests taking a different mindset when it comes to learning videos. "The parent needs to view videos like they view books. With a book, you sit and read to the child, and engage with them while reading the story." If you can put up with listening to "Santa Shark" on repeat a few million times, your kid just might reap some huge benefits.

After a very frustrating first birth experience, this Deaf mother wanted a change. Will the help of two Deaf doulas give the quality communication and birth experience this mom wants and deserves? Watch Episode Four of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below, and visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes.