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Univ. of Maryland and Wellesley College Researchers Have Found the Surprising Benefits of ‘Sesame Street’

Children with teacher at school.
When the news broke in May that students in Washington D.C. and Maryland would spend less time on Common Core standardized testing, education experts and parents alike wondered how to proceed with academic testing and expectations.

The Common Core standards were introduced years ago in an attempt to raise the bar for public schools, but it’s now common knowledge that the tests don’t encourage kids to learn more, and the tests also don’t offer adequate assessments of each student’s growth and ability.

Education administrators have acknowledged the shortcomings of the current academic tests in Maryland, but have been unsure where to go from there.

The answer might be hidden in a simple TV show which many young kids already watch: in a study conducted by researchers from the University of Maryland and Wellesley College, it was discovered that kids who watch Sesame Street are more likely to do well in grade school.

According to Tech Times and the Washington Post, the benefits of Sesame Street are most obvious for young boys, African-American children, and children in low-income families. This isn’t too surprising; the average four-year-old child has about 437 questions per day, and when parents and guardians are too busy working to spend time with their children, many of those questions go unanswered — or worse, the children begin to think that their questions don’t matter.

Perhaps the characters on Sesame Street can’t talk back to young viewers, but the program reportedly encourages learning and creativity just as much as preschool programs do — meaning that the show could be a valuable resource for parents who can’t afford to send their children to preschool.

According to the results from the study, after the show was introduced in the mid-1960s, the areas in which the show was broadcast saw a remarkable drop in the number of children who were falling behind in school: about 14%, in fact.

While health and education experts don’t recommend that parents let their kids sit in front of the TV all day, each Sesame Street episode is created by teams of academic researchers and actually presents engaging content beyond what is typically taught in a classroom setting.

Not only do the scripts focus on basic education, but they also teach kids how to develop and express healthy social and emotional skills. They learn self control (or the consequences of having none) from Cookie Monster, and the value of positivity (or lack thereof) from Oscar the Grouch.

And best of all, kids actually want to watch the show.

It seems that maybe abolishing so many standardized tests isn’t such a bad thing after all for Maryland children.


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