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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Won't You Sing Along with Me? is a special episode of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood that focuses on Daniel's difficulty with sheltering in place during an outbreak of an unnamed illness (COVID-19 is not mentioned by name). This special speaks to the fears and frustrations children have during this time, such as worries about infection and the difficult of staying home without seeing friends or family. It also addresses more ordinary fears like thunderstorms and fast-moving streetcars, illustrating in songs and visuals that kids can ask questions about what's going on, and do many things to stay safe (including washing hands and spending time at home with their family). Preschoolers are encouraged to think critically about current problems and are offered positive examples of ways to cope. Characters model positive ways to handle challenges, and offer empathy for the young kids and others struggling during this time. Communication, teamwork, curiosity, and compassion are also themes.
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What's the story?
As DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD: WON'T YOU SING ALONG WITH ME? begins, Daniel Tiger (Jake Beale) is excited to go to the neighborhood carnival. But Mom (Heather Bambrick) and Dad (Ted Dykstra) disappoint Daniel by reminding him that the neighborhood carnival is canceled this year, and that Daniel and everyone else in his neighborhood has to stay home right now to prevent passing germs. Daniel's sad and frustrated. But his parents and friends teach him some better ways to handle a tough time, and remind him all the things he can do to keep himself happy and safe.
Is it any good?
Parents don't always know how to explain the COVID-19 pandemic to their kids, but this lovely, thoughtful animated special can help. Daniel is miserable when he finds out that not only won't there be a neighborhood carnival this year, he also can't have any of his friends over or visit their homes. The reason, his mom and dad gently explain, is that everyone must stay home in order to stop the spread of germs (the flu, and COVID-19, are never mentioned by names). That makes Daniel feel sad and frustrated, and he's not alone. Mom and Dad are sad too, and no one knows exactly when this will be over. But as sweet, simple songs remind Daniel and viewers, grownups are there to take care of you, and kids can ask questions about what's going on and follow the adults' plans to be safe. Visuals spell out all the ways that kids can help, including coughing into their elbows, sneezing into a tissue, and washing their hands carefully.
Daniel also struggles when Dad works from home, but doesn't have time to play with Daniel. Again, a song comes to the rescue as Dad reminds Daniel that one of the best ways to be a helper is to find something to play with or work on independently when a grownup is busy. Daniel could draw a picture, hug his stuffed animal, or send a letter in the mail to someone he misses. He can also spend time with his family, taking walks, doing arts and crafts, and making music together. Daniel's take-away message in Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Won't You Sing Along with Me?: "Things have been different, and that makes me feel a lot of feelings. But being with my family and asking questions makes it a little better." This gentle animated show may make kids feel a little better, too, and that's worth something.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Won't You Sing Along with Me? was made and who it's made for. Is it intended to reassure children and parents? To make them ask questions? To answer these questions? How is the issue of germs and infection soft-pedaled so it's not alarming for young viewers? Is this special helpful for families with young children? How?
Kids: What problem did the characters face in this episode? How did it make them feel? How were they able to deal with it? What, if anything, would you have done differently?
How do the characters in Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood: Won't You Sing Along with Me? demonstrate communication, curiosity, and teamwork? What about compassion and empathy? Why are these important character strengths?
- Premiere date: August 17, 2020
- Cast: Jake Beale, Ted Dykstra, Addison Holley
- Network: PBS Kids
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models
- Character strengths: Communication, Compassion, Curiosity, Empathy, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-Y
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: April 4, 2021
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