I’ve written previously about how Sesame Street transformed my learning experience as a pre-school child growing up in Zambia. At the time, programming in what was rural Zambia was very limited and children’s particularly so.
ZNBC, the state broadcaster had the foresight to see that Sesame Street, a 189 Grammy and 11 Emmy award-winning show was absolute genius. Over fifty years ago, the team behind the show realised that the average child had a short-attention-span, and if the proper curriculum and educational goals were packaged up in short live-action, animated and sketch sequences, roughly the length of a commercial, then the show would be an engaging, fresh and new learning channel for millions of children around the world.
For me, it was exactly this. Before I had started any form of formalised schooling, I could count to a hundred and I could also recognise the letters of the alphabet and read many short words. This had just happened through a process of sitting in front of the tv and watching, listening and learning. I clearly remember feeling excited each day as the time for the show drew nearer and the familiar sound of the theme tune would throw me into an immersive world of education tailored exactly for me.
Sesame Street, gave me a head start in life through the introduction at a young age of carefully designed children’s programming in a form that I could digest, and which held my attention. With fond memories, I’ve tried several occasions through a boxset of DVDs and YouTube to get my two and five-year-old son’s interested. But in this world of HD quality stream-on-demand, it seems to have passed them by.
Whilst we’re all dealing with the effects of the current global pandemic, online educational learning resources for children have suddenly become the thing. There are many which are particularly good, not least our own free VOD service designed for 21st-century global citizens. My colleague Tara has also compiled a fantastic list of great online educational resources.
In our household, Youtube is becoming king. My 5-year-old boy is fascinated by the weird and the wonderful. On top of the fantastic learning packs and links to online resources that we’ve been pointed towards by his school since their closure this week, we’ve decided to let him learn about things that he is interested in.
He is going through a period of “rare” at the moment. Rare is king in our house rare snakes, rare animals, rare cars, rare buildings, and all of it can be found in short, informational clips on Youtube.
We’re using the opportunity to inject some fun into his curriculum learning, coupled with a big injection of general knowledge around the things that he is interested in.
I suggest you do it too.