What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this classic educational series sometimes deals with strong emotions -- such as missing a friend, suffering from low self-esteem, and being worried about a new sibling's arrival -- but the messages for kids are always positive and self-affirming. The Muppet characters are sometimes slightly irreverent, but that tiny bit of edge is what makes the show fun for older viewers to watch, and it never gets in the way of preschoolers' learning or enjoyment. And, of course, there's the show's superb educational content, which supports early skills in literacy, math, and science and exposes kids to a variety of cultures through music, dance, and language.
What's the story?
SESAME STREET is a groundbreaking preschool series that introduces and reinforces early educational skills like letter sounds, numbers, colors, and patterns and encourages kids' curiosity about the world around them. The series is set in an urban neighborhood where longtime Muppet characters like The Count, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, and Oscar the Grouch live alongside their people pals like Maria, Bob, and Gordon. Recurring segments in each episode center on letters and numbers of the day, phonics skills, and interpersonal relationships. The show's ever-evolving curriculum also instructs kids on other issues like healthy eating and caring for the Earth, topics that are blended into the format through a range of engaging music, dance, and cultural segments.
Is it any good?
Still going strong after several decades, Sesame Street continues to set the gold standard for preschool media by incorporating early educational and social-emotional skills into a wholly entertaining show. Created by educators, the show capitalizes on kids' natural love of learning and celebrates diversity by exploring different cultures and incorporating both Muppet and flesh-and-blood characters of all ages, colors, races, and physical abilities.
Parents who grew up with the classic Sesame style might find some of the show's more recent changes a little surprising -- including a revamped theme song, multiple visual styles, and even segments that alter the appearance of longtime characters (claymation versions of Ernie and Bert, for instance). One noticeable shift is in the show's recent move toward audience interactivity, which allows kids to predict what's coming next. While not as reliant upon repetition as Blue's Clues, this change to Sesame Street's format means fewer of the funny, slightly irreverent Muppet segments that made even big kids laugh. But overall there are enough old-school ties to ensure that parents won't get bored when they tune in with their kids.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the topics that each episode tackles. What did you learn about numbers and letters today? Watching with your kids will give you many creative play ideas -- try carrying a theme from the show into activities when the TV shuts off.
Kids: How do the show's different styles and stories help you understand the featured topics? Do the songs help you remember some of what they're trying to teach?
In what ways does the show reflect American culture? How do the characters represent their cultural heritages? How do the show's music, dance, and language teach you about the world's diversity?