Last week, I attended a DC mom blogger event at PBS Kids in Arlington VA. I have to say, it was a pretty interesting event. PBS Kids makes a bunch of quality kids' shows, like "Clifford", "Sid the Science Kid", and "Word Girl" - all shows my kids have watched before. We got a behind-the-scenes look at how the show "Super Why" was conceived and what goes into each episode. If you're not familiar with "Super Why", it's aimed at pre-schoolers and not only helps teach them how to read, but also helps instill a love of reading and stories through the use of interactive storybook adventures.
The show's executive producer explained the research that went into developing the show, which takes into account how kids of different ages learn and what kind of content is compelling to them. I hadn't really thought much about what goes into making these kids' shows, but I was really impressed with the complexity of the reading education behind the show. My fellow DC Metro Mom, Leticia of Tech Savvy Mama, had an excellent synopsis of what we learned:
"SuperWhy" is amazing because it includes all the literacy concepts a child needs to know to move towards reading fluency... With shows that are only 30 minutes, "SuperWhy" packs in concepts like letter recognition, letter naming, word families, letter sounds, rhyming, retelling, word recognition, and spelling into shows that are based on classic stories like The Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel, Jack and the Beanstalk, etc.
PBS announced last week that research from two seprate studies has actually shown that children, especially from low income families, are learning early literacy skills from "Super Why", including letter and sound naming skills, symbolic and linguistic awareness, and reading comprehension.
When I think back on some of the shows my girls have watched on other channels, it makes me appreciate the quality of PBS Kids programming even more. It's not enough, in my book, that a show hold their attention or be entertaining - it should be teaching them something. And a show that demonstrates the value of books and reading, and encourages kids to explore books - what could be better? I am adding SuperWhy to the DVR immediately.