Children will learn best from media that is engaging and developmentally appropriate. Sesame Street is a good example of an educational show that allows you to extend the learning in creative ways.
Here are some steps to help you integrate Sesame Street into your child’s routine:
- You can use the information on Sesame Street topics that’s available through your PBS station and online.
- Plan questions to ask while your child is watching Sesame Street. Ask your child to name her favorite character. See if you can spur her imagination by asking what she thinks will happen next.
- Plan activities. Act out scenes, draw pictures, play games, or sing songs that build on what your child has learned. A song like Elmo’s “Riding a Tricycle” could encourage your child to express joy and pride when she is riding her bike. A lullaby, such as Ernie’s “I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon,” can create a loving, bonding experience at bedtime.
- Find related books and schedule a time to read these books aloud.
- Prepare your child. When you are ready to play a DVD or use the computer, tell your child what he can expect or what you want him to do. Mention some of the things the characters may be doing.
- Model healthy media use by balancing screen time with other activities. Turn the TV off and go model the healthy habits you see on Sesame Street.
- Set time limits. The deepest learning happens when your child learns with all of her senses, so alternate between screen time and activities that give your child an opportunity to touch and manipulate objects, move her body, and shift the focus of her eyes.
- Media can be an effective teacher. Your child learns from what he sees on screen, whether it is a violent program or an educational program. You can help him get the most from on-screen content by steering him towards age- appropriate educational programs and using related activities to enhance your child’s learning experiences. The activities you choose should reinforce program themes and lessons, help your child appreciate differences and similarities (racial, ethnic, lifestyle, gender, cultural, physical, language, family groups, and abilities), and include a wide variety of materials to encourage creative expression. Viewing, doing, and reading can happen in any order. The key is to use words to remind your child of the links.
Using Television, Videos, or DVDs
- Sing! Sing a song. Sing out loud. Sing out strong. Show your child through your own actions that it’s fine to sing, clap, dance, or play along with what she sees on the screen. Let her see that you think it’s fun to do all of these things!
- Help your child identify shapes, colors, and numbers by repeating them along with the show.
- Have your child explore her feelings by identifying emotions and naming what the characters are experiencing. For example, Telly often feels anxious when things don’t go exactly right, but with the help of his friends he learns to cope with difficult situations. Help her recall her own experiences and relate them to what she sees on screen.
- Respond to your child’s questions about things that are happening on screen. Help him understand concepts like cooperation and feelings by talking about the situations and characters he has seen. For example, Elmo and Zoe learn to share their toys because they can have more fun playing ball together than by themselves.
- Practice sequencing by asking your child to re-tell a Sesame Street story she has seen or to identify what happened in the beginning, middle, and end.
- With Sesame Street videos and DVDs, you can create an interactive experience by using the pause button. Pause the program and encourage your child to guess what will happen next. Keep in mind that too much stopping and starting may make it difficult for preschoolers to follow a Sesame Street storyline unless they have seen the program before. You can also use the rewind feature to practice listening skills and let your child check the program to see if his memory is accurate.