A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that each episode of this endearing cartoon targeted at preschoolers and young elementary schoolers includes both a basic academic lesson and, more centrally, a social behavior lesson. That means that the kid characters mildly misbehave (picking a nose, running off during a field trip, etc.) in order to set up a learning situation.
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What's the story?
Starting school for the first time can be overwhelming for a small child, and the basic goal of BETSY'S KINDERGARTEN ADVENTURES is to help kids adapt from the home environment to the school environment. Created by kindergarten teacher/author Betsy Quinn, the show focuses not only on Betsy's academic learning -- little lessons about salamanders and arachnids help Betsy and her friends find a solution to each episode's given problem -- but also on behavioral lessons, such as being responsible and never going anywhere without telling an adult first.
Is it any good?
The good news that this show is reasonably true to life. The fact that Betsy (voiced by Daveigh Chase) lets out an agonized cry when she realizes it's the first day of school gives the show enough edge to balance the sweetness -- a plus for parents who want to watch it with their kids as part of easing the transition from home to school. (Parents, keep an ear out for other occasional sly bits of wit that are slipped in just for you to chuckle over.)
Betsy's classroom is racially diverse, although the main characters are all Caucasian. And you can see some different "types" playing out: There's Scott (Richard Steven Horvitz), the class brain; Molly (Vicki Lewis), the Queen Bee; and Billy (Nancy Cartwright), the hyperactive, hyper-curious boy in love with bugs and reptiles. Betsy herself is more of the Every Girl. Her adventures -- getting picked to care for Sydney, the class salamander, and not being very enthused about the job, getting lost in a museum when she's too scared to ride an escalator downstairs -- may be of the everyday type, but they're presented here in a way that's ultimately endearing. The kids do tend to be far more articulate than your average 5-year-old, but that seems to work for the show.
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