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 although this documentary/reality series is very mild and engaging overall, real kids are its focus, and their experiences and misconceptions aren't always filtered. Some younger kids may be startled to learn, for example, that "if you touch fire, even a little bit, then you get burned all over and then you die" -- which is how one of the kids on the show responded to a question about fire. The camera also catches moments of disappointment or emotion that the teacher doesn't always see, which could worry younger viewers.
What's the story?
KINDERGARTEN follows 23 diverse kids as they go about their day in a real-life kindergarten classroom. For kids watching at home, each episode offers a letter ("F"), a related theme (ex. firefighters), and a little education about both. The latter takes the form of very short cartoon intros to different sections of the TV kids' day and segments in which viewers listen to the teacher and students interact. In between, the kids themselves address the camera to discuss what they liked about the last thing they did or what they know about an upcoming topic. Not surprisingly, these moments can be inaccurate or even a little confusing to children watching at home, although probably no more so than any conversation with another child.
Is it any good?
Kindergarten is meant to appeal to both kids -- with its Sesame Street-esque "real kids" feel -- and to parents, offering a peek at the life of a kindergarten classroom once the doors close on Mom and Dad. Kids, especially those around kindergarten age, will find it fascinating. They want to know all about these other children.
For parents, the show is less successful. The producers refrain from creating the kind of ongoing stories and characters that are typically built into adult reality programs (even those about kids), and the result is a little boring. But it's a nice show to sit down and watch with your child, especially as he or she enters school, and it could create lots of opportunity for discussion about classrooms, kids, and teachers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about these kindergartners and their families have chosen to do this. Do you think they want to be "famous"? Kids: Would you like to have your classroom filmed for everyone to watch? What do you think might happen? Families might also find themselves talking about topics inspired by certain kids -- like the one who always wants to "go first" -- or by the classroom's diversity. Parents may want to consider what their kids could be taking away from the program: Expectations about the structure of reality television? A sense that no experience is valid if not filmed? Etc.
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