A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that BEGINNING TOGETHER is expressly designed for children as young as six months. Both Common Sense Media and the American Academy of Pediatrics advise against allowing children younger than 2 to watch television and other screen media. Studies have raised concerns that early exposure to television could be detrimental to attention span and cognitive development.
That issue aside, Beginning Together is a high quality production teaching positive skills to parents of young children while presenting engaging images and characters that young children will enjoy watching. As you'd expect from Sesame Street, the DVD portrays a variety of family situations and makes an effort to be culturally diverse.
What's the story?
This DVD features baby versions of Sesame Street Muppets -- Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and Prairie Dawn -- along with their caregivers. While the DVDs are designed with youngsters in mind, they also help teach parents how to integrate learning into daily activities and how to turn common parenting challenges into successful exchanges between caregiver and child. In one scene, Elmo's father struggles to give a squirmy Elmo a bath. Dad begins to sing a song, "Wiggly Giggly" that asks Elmo to point to parts of his body as his dad washes them. Most of the Muppet lessons flow into scenes with real-life caregivers and their babies. "Together Time Tips" reiterate or add to the lessons. For example, the tip "Tune into your child's approach to the world" features Cookie Monster's grandmother using Cookie's energetic attitude to engage him in the diaper-changing process ("Let's see how fast you can find a diaper!"), and advises parents to read their child's cues to understand his or her individual temperament.
Is it any good?
Overall, the material is up to the standards one would expect from Sesame Street -- great characters, educational lessons, fun music, and the occasional celebrity appearance. BEGINNING TOGETHER is the first DVD in the "Sesame Beginnings" series produced by Sesame Workshop in partnership with Zero to Three, an educational organization co-founded by famed pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton. The DVD is designed for babies 6 months and older. With this series, Sesame Workshop and Zero to Three flout the American Academy of Pediatrics' (and Common Sense Media's) recommendation that children under 2 avoid all screen media (TV, computers, DVDs, videos). This decision has prompted outcry from some child development experts, including Brazelton himself.
If you decide to hold off on this series until your child is 2, she will probably still find the material engaging despite the emphasis on younger children. But since much of the material is designed for the caregiver of a baby, viewers with kids past 2 will find the lessons less useful.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how they can apply the lessons modeled in the show, such as finding fun ways to carry out regular routines, like dressing and bathing. Caregivers can use the technique of adding songs and other imaginative communication to their normal interaction with their kids.
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