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December 17, 2012

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Talking to Children about Recent Events: Our Resources for Parents and Caregivers

By Dan Lewis


The tragic events from Friday morning left the nation shocked, horrified, and speechless. But while often, adults can’t find the words to express the anguish we’re feeling, the children in our lives still have questions and fears.

“What’s happened?”

“Are we safe?”

“I’m scared.”

As parents and caregivers, we want to help our children through this, and make sense of the words and imagery they are seeing on TV an other media. Over the course of decades, Sesame Street has been asked these very questions, and we’ve put together a packet of materials in hopes of helping families cope with these issues. Those materials, available here (as a pdf), are free for you to download. You may also view our Emergency PSA’s available on YouTube. While we can’t make the concerns go away, we hope these materials help you address the recent tragedy, and other emergency situations, with the children in your lives.

 

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December 17, 2012

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Sesame’s Best Practices Guide for Children’s App Development

By Mindy Brooks


Touch screen technology is revolutionizing interactive digital experiences for children. No longer do our little ones need to wait to learn to navigate a mouse or press keyboard keys in order to access a host of interactive content designed for them. Instead, we see toddlers and preschoolers confidently navigating their parents’ iPhones, iPads, and other touch screen devices with astonishing agility and purpose. The explosion of apps for young children is not surprising; there is high demand and high appeal.

Sesame Workshop, whose mission is to help children reach their highest potential, is learning as much as we can about these media platforms so that we can use them to best meet children’s educational and developmental needs. We scour academic journals and policy-based reports; we consult experts in the field, and we also spend as much time as we can with children and parents observing and talking to them while they use touch screen devices. Read More

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December 10, 2012

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An In-depth Look at Sesame Street’s Efforts to Take on Divorce

By Graydon Gordian


Since its inception Sesame Street has been committed to tackling the challenges that young children face, no matter how difficult or unorthodox it may be to discuss those topics with children. With this commitment in mind, Sesame Workshop is taking on the subject of divorce, an emotional trial many children go through. Yet many parents are uncertain how to reassure or even explain what is going on to their children.

Storyboard, a storytelling project by Tumblr’s Department of Editorial, took a deeper look at the way Sesame Workshop is handling the subject of divorce. They wrote this piece about our divorce-focused outreach efforts and created the above video. We encourage you to check out both. Read More

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September 07, 2012

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An Elmo a Day Keeps Apples on the Way

By Jennifer Kotler


Elmo is the man… err, monster these days! Headlines all across the nation are giving him credit for making apples more appealing.  A new study published this month in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine conducted by researchers at Cornell University found that children ages 8 to 11 were 65 percent more likely to add an apple to their lunch in their school cafeteria when Elmo stickers were placed on the apples compared to when the apples had no stickers. Sesame Workshop had no input or knowledge into this study until it came out in the press, but it reconfirms our own and others’ research on the power of beloved characters in influencing food choices and other behaviors.

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Keeping the ABCs Relevant: Finding New Ways to Teach Kids to Read and Write!

By Rosemarie Truglio


Ed. Note: This post was authored by Rosemarie Truglio, Jennifer Schiffman, Jennifer Kotler and Susan Scheiner of Sesame Workshop’s Education and Research Department.

N.B. Above is a playlist of Sesame Street ABC segments from throughout the years. Keep watching to see more examples of our educational alphabet content, or use the playlist icon to scroll through and find your favorite.

The alphabet hasn’t changed since Sesame Street first debuted in 1969. No letters have been removed. No new letters have been discovered. Similarly, the importance of providing a foundation for a lifetime of learning is just as important then as it is now. What has changed over time is the expectation for a child once he or she enters kindergarten. We’ve heard countless stories from parents who are concerned that activities that were appropriate for first and second graders have trickled down into kindergarten. Standards are more stringent and expectations are higher. However the country is still facing a literacy crisis, with newspapers around the country citing statistics indicating that many children are entering kindergarten ill-prepared.

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March 19, 2012

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Self-Regulation: its Meaning and Importance

By Graydon Gordian


Our mission at Sesame Street isn’t just to teach children numbers and letters. Encouraging socio-emotional development is also a major part of our curriculum. In particular, our goal is to encourage “self-regulation.” It’s a term our early childhood education experts use to describe a person’s ability to control his or her thoughts, actions and emotions.

Happiness, sadness, anger: These are all emotions that children feel. But they need to be taught to identify what they’re feeling if they’re going to respond productively. For instance, if a child has a toy taken away by another child, he needs to recognize what he is feeling – anger – before he can decide how to respond. Instead of, say, hitting the child who took his toy, if he knows he is angry he can realize that he has options for his behavior. One option would be to take a deep breath and ask for his toy back. Recognizing and labeling his emotions is a critical “skill” for a child to develop if he is going to think and then act instead of merely reacting.

Anger is a simple emotion, but self-regulation is also about identifying more complex emotions: pride, excitement, frustration, etc. At a Sesame Workshop curriculum seminar, an educational advisor once told a story about when her daughter came home and said she was angry. Her mom asked why and the girl said because a friend at school had a pink, sparkly coat that she wanted. Her mom told her she wasn’t angry, she was jealous. Identifying subtle differences between emotions like anger and jealousy is critical if a child is going to learn to be self-regulatory.

Identifying and managing one’s emotions and having self-control is just one aspect of self-regulation, but it is important when helping children develop social-emotional competence and achieve academic success. If a child learns self-regulation skills at an early age, it can help them be better prepared for school and for life. That’s why, when teaching children the building blocks of numeracy and literacy, we also help them learn social and emotional skills.

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March 14, 2012

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Happy Pi Day!

By Graydon Gordian


It’s Pi Day! We’re not sure how the mathematical constant is celebrating, but for us here at Sesame Workshop it’s a great opportunity to look back at Philip Glass’ “Geometry of Circles,” an animated short from 1979 set to the music of the famous minimalist composer. Using interesting animated shorts like “Geometry of Circles” to explain mathematical concepts is just one of the ways we help prepare children for their primary and secondary education. The origins of a child’s ability to understand complex concepts like pi (when you think about it, the notion of a number with an infinite decimal representation is, in the truest sense of the word, awesome) lies in the introduction to numeracy and basic mathematics that Sesame Street strives to provide.

Happy Pi Day! There ain’t no party like an irrational number party because an irrational number party don’t stop (literally).

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February 21, 2012

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The Meaning and Importance of Pro-Social Behavior

By Graydon Gordian


Sharing, taking turns, listening to one another: Sesame Street has been encouraging these kinds of benevolent actions since the show’s first episodes. Here at Sesame Workshop, our early childhood education specialists call these kinds of actions “pro-social behavior.” It’s a term we use often when talking about the empathy and kindness we try to engender in children.

But we can’t all be early childhood education specialists, which means we might not all recognize the term pro-social behavior right away. That’s why we wanted to take a few minutes and explain exactly what we mean when we use the term.

According to our early childhood education experts, pro-social behavior is when children show positive behaviors such as sharing, cooperating, empathy, and taking turns when interacting with others. These skills can help children build strong friendships and relationships and enable children to navigate different social circumstances in a constructive manner.

Put differently, children experience many of the same emotional trials as adults – interpersonal conflict, the loss of loved ones, even the challenges of economic hardship are not lost on children. If a child is not given the emotional tools to handle those trials, they can have a lasting negative impact on his or her life. The more emotional education a child can receive at a young age, the better. If children’s behavioral problems are ignored, they are more likely to struggle in school and act out later in life.

The value of encouraging “pro-social behavior” at a young age isn’t just a theory of ours. Our research and education team has demonstrated its importance and the effectiveness of our educational methods time and again. For instance, children who view Sesame Street episodes with pro-social messages exhibit significantly higher levels of pro-social behavior than those who do not watch, as much as 40% higher.

For more information about pro-social behavior and Sesame Street’s proven ability to encourage it in young children, check out our page on emotional wellbeing.

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Sesame Street Partners with 100Kin10 Movement to Promote STEM Education

By Graydon Gordian


Sesame Workshop is excited to announce that we are now officially part of the 100Kin10 movement, a collection of non-profits, government agencies, corporations and universities working to recruit and retain 100,000 new STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) teachers over the next ten years.

STEM education is already a major part of the Sesame Street curriculum. For two laughter-filled years we’ve incorporated STEM education into the show. STEM lessons are also integral to our online content, outreach initiatives and efforts to work with pre-school educators. For years our team of childhood development specialists has been refining our multi-platform STEM curriculum to make sure it’s not only fun but effective. That’s part of the reason why we are in a unique position to meet the challenges of teaching critical STEM knowledge and skills to children through the involvement of their teachers, parents and caregivers. Helping raise a generation of children that is excited about science, technology, engineering and mathematics is a critical part of our mission.

That mission is why we partnered with the 100kin10 movement. Founded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Opportunity Equation and NewSchools Venture Fund, the movement has brought together dozens of organizations that are concerned about the future of STEM education in the United States. Every organization brings something unique to the table. Sesame Workshop is proud to bring our expertise in early childhood education and firmly held belief that it’s never too early to encourage kids to be excited about science and math.

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