Regardless of any SpongeBob controversy, I’ve always believed that TV is an uber powerful medium. If created with intent to teach, we can use it to further develop reading skills, thinking skills, & positive socio emotional behavior. But creating with intent to teach is not an easy thing to do. My shows have a foundation in child development, an understanding of how kids think, of how kids learn & how they watch TV. My colleagues and I know that when you model something on television, chances are that kids who watch will model it, too. That’s why, in the midst of all the negative research onTV, I’ve always wanted to turn it around to the positive!
Yes, kids model what they see. Kids want to be part of the action. Kids want to help. So, what if instead of slapstick comedy where characters fall down and hurt each other, we showed characters thinking, solving problems with REAL strategies, and asking kids at home to help? Could that be interesting and actually fun for kids? YES!
Blue’s Clues, Super Why and Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood came from years of work perfecting the way we present stories and curriculum on television for kids so they laugh, learn, and grow. We don’t just throw something up on the screen because it’s funny. We don’t promise to teach something we don’t deliver on. We don’t believe in over stimulating kids, or having them nervously scream at the television – just because we’re afraid they will turn our show off.
We believe in good storytelling. We believe in great characters. And we believe in kids. If we give kids the important formal features of adequate pacing and a strong curriculum so they can think and learn, we know that we will be impacting millions of kids in a positive way.
They will learn to read.
They will score better on kindergarten readiness skills.
They will know & practice important life skills.
Sometimes I feel that our shows are the newly ripened avocados of the children’s television world. We sit there, like an avocado, full of vitamins and minerals. We taste awesome, but we don’t have all this fancy packaging that screams out “HEY! We Are So Very COOL!“.
No, we avocados just sit there and patiently wait while, one by one, they figure it out. And soon enough, someone picks us up and says, “Wow, this avocado tastes great. And look, our brains are growing and we’re healthier too!”
And see, when you choose “avocado” everyone wins. 😉