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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the messages in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood about social responsibility, respect, and self-esteem are just as relevant today as they were at the show's start in the 1960s. The series uses music, make believe, and everyday tasks to illustrate kid-friendly themes like honesty, overcoming fears, and being a good friend. Field trips expose viewers to how common products are made, and the host's visits with his neighbors demonstrate how their jobs benefit the community. Occasionally the show explores sensitive subjects like divorce or the loss of a loved one, but it's always done in a responsible manner that's appropriate for kids.
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What's the story?
MISTER ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD is a long-running preschool series that stars Fred Rogers as the titular host who opens his doors to his TV audience and invites them to share in his daily experiences in and around his neighborhood. Rogers uses songs, visits with friends, field trips to factories and local events, and everyday tasks like caring for his goldfish to teach kids important life lessons in responsibility, overcoming fears, and respecting differences. A regular segment of the show also transports kids -- via a bright red Trolley -- from Rogers' living room to an imaginary place called the Neighborhood of Make-Believe, where puppet characters like King Friday XIII, Henrietta Pussycat, and Lady Elaine Fairchilde (all voiced by Rogers) interact with human ones and explore a problem related to the episode's theme.
Is it any good?
Since this series' start in 1968, Rogers has invited his viewers to be a part of everything he does, from lacing up his famous sneakers to taking a field trip to the circus, and every aspect of the show encourages curiosity, imagination, and self-expression. Throughout its 30-year run, the show explored nearly every imaginable concern that kids face, including competition, caring for the Earth, and even death, always with Rogers' trademark gentle honesty and in a way that preschoolers will understand.
What makes this series most notable is its adherence to wholesome social mores like loving your neighbor, showing kindness to others, and respecting differences. The show makes a point of including people of various ethnicities and physical abilities, and Rogers' own appreciation for each person's uniqueness set the tone for reminders to not only respect each other, but to truly appreciate the things that make each one special. For a generation of parents who were raised on Mister Rogers Neighborhood, the timeless nature of the show's messages is a great reason to settle in for some quality TV time with your kids.
This program is purposefully slow-paced, precisely because young children need time to digest the information they receive. The topics are big enough to hold interest, while the details of the set, the field trips, and general discourse have been well considered. Mister Rogers isn't afraid to tackle big issues like "What is love?" He discusses divorce, shyness, fear, grandparents, "being so angry you could bite," and being unique. Most of all, Rogers never loses touch with the notion that "We have to remember to whom the airwaves belong, and we must put as great an emphasis on the nurturing of the human personality as we can."
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about respect and how Mister Rogers is always respectful on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. What does respect mean? Why is it important to treat other people with respect? How do our differences make us special? What are some of your best qualities?
Kids: How does Mister Rogers' neighborhood compare to your own? How do neighbors rely on each other? What jobs are important in a neighborhood? How can you show you care about your neighbors and friends?
If you could create a make-believe land, what would it look like? Who would the characters be? What kinds of troubles would they face? How would they overcome them?
Mister Rogers teaches many different character strengths on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, especially compassion and curiosity. , and teamwork. How does he demonstrate communication, empathy, and gratitude? What about courage, and perseverance? Can you think of anyone who shows humility, integrity, or self-control? Why are these character strengths so important?
- Premiere date: February 19, 1968
- Cast: David Newell, Fred Rogers
- Network: PBS
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Arts and Dance, Music and Sing-Along, Numbers and Letters, Puppets
- Character strengths: Communication, Compassion, Courage, Curiosity, Empathy, Gratitude, Humility, Integrity, Perseverance, Self-control, Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-Y
- Available on: DVD, Streaming
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
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