A growing body of research is confirming what Fred Rogers knew all along: social and emotional competencies are the very foundation of academic achievement and a full life. Two and three year-olds are only just beginning to explore a world outside of their home and learning to become increasingly independent, but they still need a great deal of guidance from adults to help them navigate new social situations and new places. Although children of this age might be learning pre-academic skills, such as the alphabet and counting, they also need to learn pro-social skills, such as sharing, taking turns, self-control, listening, and developing positive self-esteem. Only with these skills are they truly ready to learn.
Child Development Strategies
With Daniel Tiger as our guide, the series offers a fun, safe place for young children to explore their ever-expanding world, and teaches them developmentally appropriate pro-social strategies. Each episode has one social-emotional theme, explored in a way that’s relatable and generalizable, but never preachy. Examples of the theme are repeated more than once in different situations, to ensure comprehension.
Music plays an important role in the series, as it did in the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Daniel is an expressive, artistic and imaginative character, and music highlights his fantasy life. In each episode he has an “imagination moment” where he plays out a fun preschool fantasy set to music. For instance, on a picnic, he wonders what it would be like to be as small as the ants! The singable, repeatable strategies taught in the series are reprised in a full song at the end of each story – a fun and useful take-away for kids and grownups.
Research tells us that preschoolers who are engaged and interacting are preschoolers who are learning. In this series, Daniel shares his thoughts and engages the home viewer with open-ended questions to draw them in. And for a three-year-old, there’s nothing more engaging than humor. The fun in Daniel evolves from the characters and situations, is preschool-appropriate – visual and silly – with no sarcasm, irony, or subtlety.
The stories in the series have all been written with extensive input from a wide range of early learning specialists, formative research with children, and the benefit of the legacy of over forty years of the work of Fred Rogers. It all adds up to a powerful tool for parents – an entertaining but thoughtful parenting guide for today’s families that integrates music, interactivity and a research-based curriculum.