June 26, 2016 by The Best Dad Blog
I’ve been fortunate, over the course of my career, to work on some pretty amazing projects. Many of them have been integral to my professional and personal growth. And one holds a very special place in my heart.
It was a thrill to play a VERY small role in the launch of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood on PBS Kids several years ago.
Before I got to work on it, I fell in love with it.
I saw an 11-minute preview at SXSW breakfast in 2012, when Beanie was not even a year old. While this was a new show, it was effectively a sequel to one of my favorites, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. And, let’s be honest, Fred Rogers was THE standard bearer of educational television. So a show inspired by his work had a a huge responsibility to carry on that legacy.
Daniel Tiger and all of his friends, you see, are the next generation of the puppets in the Land of Make Believe. Even the theme music was derived from the original show.
It was easy to feel the heart of the show – it was so familiar, but updated for kids of today. I can put on episodes of Fraggle Rock, and my kids intuitively know it was not made for THEM, but rather for their ancient father. [I’ll make them Fraggle fans, if it’s the last thing I do!]
Following that SXSW event, I worked with the PBS Kids team on the social media strategy around the launch. Like I said, I played a small part. But enough to gain a lifelong rooting interest in the show.
Over the past few years, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has become required viewing for our entire family. We’ve watched it with all of our kids. We have “action figures” of the characters that are a bath time favorite. And we even have one of Daniel Tiger’s signature red sweaters!
We constantly sing the “musical strategies” that help kids learn processes and deal with emotions. And we’ve even created a few of our own along the way.
All of this is pretext for how amazing it is that the methodology behind the show has been proven to be a massive success.
New research from Texas Tech connected preschoolers who watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood to having enhanced social and emotional skills.
The kicker is that the development comes when parents and children talk about the show. So many kid shows are hard for parents to watch. Strange storylines, poor character development, lack of any educational merit — these all make it hard to sit and watch a show with your kids, let alone have a meaningful conversation about it afterwards.
However, Daniel Tiger is the opposite of it. The show is so warm and welcoming – and digestible with 11-minute segments centered around a key lessons and musical themes – that its impossible to have it on and NOT watch it.
Beanie has been less interested in the show in recent months – and Bug is influenced by Beanie – so we haven’t had it on as much. However, we explained to the kids that they need to watch the show so they can talk to their little brother about it. And now they ask to watch it when Squish is not around.
I love this show. I love what it’s doing for families. And I’m excited I get to share it with one more kid.