PBS shows help improve kids’ early literacy skills


Over the past several decades taxpayers have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to a program run by the U.S. Department of Education called the “Ready to Learn” initiative. And new research shows that the investment is paying off for some of our youngest citizens.

Researchers at Northwestern University looked at all the research (which included nearly 25,000 participants) related to preschoolers’ learning from shows funded by Ready to Learn, including some of your favorites: WordWorld, Sesame Street, Between the Lions, Martha Speaks, Super WHY!, Barney & Friends, and The Electric Company. The study found that Ready to Learn programming is responsible for significant increases in preschoolers’ early literacy skills, including vocabulary and phonological concepts (knowing language sounds, associating letters with sounds, etc.).

These findings are important for one very large reason. Such early literacy skills are highly related to future reading, and as we all know, children’s reading ability is strongly related to success in school, and beyond.

In other words, watching certain TV shows and using their associated online content can help give your little ones a head start for kindergarten. In a time when parents seem busier than ever, and, yes, every now and then need to sit a child in front of a TV in order to get something done, I find it highly encouraging to know that such time is not wasted. In fact, it can be time well spent.

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