This is a sponsored post for Angela Santomero’s new book for parents, Preschool Clues as part of The Motherhood influencer network. As always, opinions remain 100% my own.
The first season of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood aired when my oldest daughter was a toddler. I fully credit the episode on potty training (and the catchy song from it that I can still sing in my sleep) for getting my strong-willed daughter to ditch her diapers. In fact, it seems like every episode speaks to behavioral hurdles I face with my kids on a regular basis. And more importantly, the catchy jingles and messages work! Daniel Tiger creator, Angela Santomero, clearly understands how children learn best… and now she’s sharing it with parents directly, in her new book, Preschool Clues: Raising Smart, Inspired, and Engaged Kids in a Screen-Filled World.
Angela Santomero Shares How Children Learn Best
When The Motherhood agency reached out to ask me if I would be interested in asking Angela Santomero a few questions leading up to the release of her new book, I pretty much jumped out of my chair at the chance. I got to pick the brain of the maker of Daniel Tiger, the show thats messages have helped me hurdle everything from tantrums and potty training, to picky eating and sharing, with my kids.
Below is my Q&A with the highly successful children’s television producer. Learn everything from how they come up with those catchy Daniel Tiger jingles, to what she thinks about screen time and how she got started in this business… and why you’ll definitely want to pre-order a copy of her new book Preschool Clues as we all face raising children in this digital, screen-filled world.
How do you think children learn best? And how do you incorporate that into the design of your shows?
I believe they learn through play. We can see the results of play right away. When preschoolers play, they are cooperative and communicative. They take initiative and creative risks, and engage in hands-on learning that promotes intellectual change. And in the long-term, play makes preschoolers smarter by supporting their growth, self-direction, and sense of worth.[clickToTweet tweet=”‘Play makes preschoolers smarter by supporting their growth, self-direction, and sense of worth.’ via @angelasclues #PreschoolClues #playmatters #parenting” quote=”Play makes preschoolers smarter by supporting their growth, self-direction, and sense of worth.” theme=”style2″]
Throughout all of my shows we use “interactive” play along with scripting to ensure that kids are thinking, pointing, learning, using their voice and choosing and being part of the action.
You’ve created several hugely successful children’s television series, adored by kids and appreciated by parents. How do you choose the theme for each show? They always seem perfectly timed with an issue my child is facing right now.
I feel like a mama to all the preschoolers who watch my shows. And once my own kids hit that age group — everything I did was elevated. I was determined, more than ever, to put easily replicated clues in our programs that preschoolers and their parents could use every day.[clickToTweet tweet=”‘I was determined, more than ever, to put easily replicated clues in our programs that preschoolers and their parents could use every day.’ via @angelasclues #preschool #ece #parentingtips” quote=”I was determined, more than ever, to put easily replicated clues in our programs that preschoolers and their parents could use every day.” theme=”style2″]
Here is a behind-the-scenes look at how each of my shows’ themes came to life:
- Blue’s Clues is inspired by a “game show” and teaching preschoolers everything they needed to know before they got to kindergarten.
- Super Why was my masters thesis and inspired by research on using media to teach reading skills.
- Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a passion project and love letter to Fred Rogers! It promotes socio-emotional skills that we ALL need!
- Creative Galaxy promotes an arts-based curriculum with hands-on crafts that kids are inspired to do after the show is over.
- Wishenpoof is based on Ellen Galinsky’s Mind in the Making, teaching executive functioning skills — skills kids need for life.
Who writes the songs for Daniel Tiger? They are amazingly catchy, and we sing them on repeat in our house – especially “You should try a new food because it might taste good” and “Keep trying, and you’ll get better!”
I believe singing and laughing makes parenting easier! Knowing our preschoolers and how much they love to learn, play, be silly, and move, tapping into the power of humor and music are two powerful clues I use in every single episode of preschool television I write.
For Daniel Tiger, the songwriting process starts with our fabulous writing and production team. We work with the Fred Rogers team to identify some of Fred’s key songs, write updated lyrics and strategies inspired by them. Then we hand them off to our fabulous composers at Voodoo Highway to make them into the catchy ear worms they are!
As someone who has made a career out of creating children’s programming, what is your philosophy on screen-time for children? What matters more – content? Or overall time in front of a screen?
You know how everyone in real estate says “location location location” — I say content, content, content! It’s all about content. And not all content is created equal – so look for shows that are educational – interactive – and not only entertain but excite, empower and inspire your child![clickToTweet tweet=”‘Not all content is created equal – so look for shows that are educational – interactive – and not only entertain but excite, empower and inspire your child!’ via @angelasclues #PreschoolClues #screentime #parentingtips” quote=”Not all content is created equal – so look for shows that are educational – interactive – and not only entertain but excite, empower and inspire your child!” theme=”style2″]
We live in a plugged-in, screen-filled world. As a fierce advocate of the positive potential of media in kids’ lives, I feel passionate about changing the discourse surrounding screen time to one that loses the shame and guilt and instead recognizes what a powerful tool high-quality programs for children can be, for both for the young viewers and their parents!
What is your professional background? How did you get involved in children’s television?
I have a masters in child development psychology and instructional technology and media. I got into children’s television because I wanted to use the influential nature of media to inspire and teach.
With my book, Preschool Clues, I wanted to empower parents to not only understand exactly what their children are learning from the shows they watch and why their shows are so effective at communicating that learning — they’ll know exactly how to apply that same tried and tested approach to the way they parent their kids, and with the same powerful results.[clickToTweet tweet=”‘They’ll know exactly how to apply that same tried and tested approach to the way they parent their kids, and with the same powerful results’ via @angelasclues #preschoolclues #parenting” quote=”They’ll know exactly how to apply that same tried and tested approach to the way they parent their kids, and with the same powerful results” theme=”style2″]
Learn More About Preschool Clues
Preschool Clues is a must-have guide for parents to help them make informed choices about the shows their children watch. Screen time isn’t all bad – it’s the content you allow them to watch that makes a difference. Choosing quality preschool programming that conveys important social, emotional and cognitive skills, while also entertaining and engaging your child is what matters most.
Preschool Clues will help you use recognize high quality programs you can share with your child and use as a powerful tool learning tool for them, as well as a parenting tool you can use with them later. Preschool Clues will launch on April 3 and is available for preorder now.
Does your family love Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood? What’s your favorite Daniel Tiger song? If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out my review of The Whole Brained Child, one of my favorite books to help understand my toddlers and preschoolers. You can find both of these, and all my parenting tip favorites, on my Practical Parenting board on Pinterest.
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