In many communities across America the complaint is the same; “I want to help my children learn about other races, religions and cultures, but my community isn’t very integrated & my circle of friends is not diverse, what do I do?” It’s true that although we are a country of diverse backgrounds, most people tend to seek out groups of friends of the same race, religion and/or ethnicity. It is easier to find common ground and the language barrier is not present when spending time with others who share in our culture. However, parents would like their children to be accepting and tolerant of other cultures even though they may not be exposed to them on a regular basis, what’s a parent to do?
Enter the wonderful world of children’s television programming. With the choices our children now have, you can expose your children to multiple cultures, languages and traditions all in the same afternoon. A new study released recently from the American Academy of Pediatrics reveals that high-quality educational programming can have a positive effect on young children. These programs assist in the acquisition of general knowledge and improve cognitive learning among children ages six and younger. The report also states that educational programming which emphasizes cultural and racial diversity can improve children’s attitudes to those subjects.
So, the television now becomes the ultimate cultural teacher & not the “boob tube” that parents once thought it to be. The one possible drawback to this seemingly perfect answer? There must be culturally diverse and age-appropriate shows for children to view & learn from.
Luckily for us parents searching, children’s programmers have responded. There are any number of shows on television today featuring characters of different races, with disabilities and even those that speak different languages. Three child-oriented stations are leading the pack with their high-quality, diverse and educational television programs.
PBS, the trailblazer in this category features Sesame Street, which has abc kidstaught generations of children around the world their ABCs and how to count. Much more than that, since the inception of the show 35 year ago, there have been racially diverse characters & characters with disabilities & they all work together to promote the overall the message of acceptance and togetherness. Even today, there are strong female characters, multi-lingual characters that teach “words of the day,” & they have featured adopted families, non-traditional families & characters in wheelchairs all enjoying their time on 123 Sesame Street.