Mister Rogers' Neighborhood has been relegated to the 5am Saturday morning slot on the Nashville Public Television syndicate. Therefore, I doubt many kids or their parents are actually up to benefit from this wonderful programming. While lacking the fast-paced pizzazz of much of the contemporary children's programming, the show (and website) offers a wealth of language-based learning opportunities for children and parents. There's a lot to explore on the website (e.g., classic songs with accompanying video clips like "You Can Never Go Down the Drain, imagination via the land of make believe, educational games on letter recognition and narrative creation, video "field trips" to places like an aquarium, musical set, doctor's office, and art museum, and much more). Everything is bound by a thoughtful consideration of what the 2-5 year olds' developmental perspective would be in a given situation. Mister Rogers strives to have meaningful dialogue with his television "neighbors." There are appropriate conversational gaps for "responses" and reflection. In my experience, children are not passive viewers, but actively engage with the material by audibly talking with/responding to Mister Rogers and the other characters. As such, some adults may find the show boring or plodding. However, the goal the show is to engage with and meet children at place whereby THEY can best process verbal information relevant to their real-world experiences and concerns and NOT to entertain parents. That said, most parents - myself included - are captivated by Mister Rogers. The website and program content, when collaboratively enjoyed by both parent and child, provide wonderful foundations for later family discussions and language-based activities AWAY from the TV/Computer. The show's philosophy, as taken from the website, sums up this mission nicely:
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood promotes values that are universally important to children and families.
Fads and fashion -- in television and in society -- change constantly, but the values on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood are timeless and universal. The basic developmental tasks of early childhood -- the things preschoolers need to learn and understand to grow into succeeding stages of life -- remain constant regardless of time, place, or societal changes. So do the values that enable families (and whole societies) to nurture their children and help them grow.
These values, shared by Family Communications, professionals, and families across the country, include:
- Children are precious, and their earliest years are exceedingly important in laying the foundation for who and what they become.
- Children grow best when raised in responsible and caring ways.
- The ability to love and be loved is supremely important in every person's life, and that ability is best nurtured in the early years.
- Discipline and control are essential to healthy living -- and the best discipline and control come from within.
- It is important to recognize the worth and the unique abilities of each individual child. Children can -- and do -- contribute in many ways to the life of a family.
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/monkey-match/id407251250?mt=8 or search for "Monkey Match" in the App store. Three games: Match upper and lower case letters, match words by initial sounds, match rhyming weds.
www.starfall.com: A great website for pre-readers and early readers. Appropriate for age 2 and beyond. The letter activities include lots of fun vocabulary and activities, making them enjoyable for all preschoolers. Great worksheets for parents to print out as well.