This longer read relates how Sesame Street is tackling tough issues that impact kids, such as foster care and family homelessness. Some are aware that the show has been starting to cover difficult real-world issues recently, but not many realise just how much research and consultation goes into making these topics kid-friendly while still conveying useful information. Alongside the TV content, Sesame Workshops also produces online resources for carers and professionals to help kids learn about everything from basic relaxation techniques to understanding autism.
Just as fascinating as the overtly educational resources is learning how the creators of Sesame Street take such complex and emotionally difficult issues and distill the key messages to convey to children, while at the same time keeping the tone light and playful. For foster care, for example, the writers focused on the key takeaway phrases “You’re safe, you’re strong, you belong”, and at one point in the show put these phrases in song form.
Other aspects of the Sesame Street approach will be similarly useful for those working with young people. When the show covers difficult emotions, it doesn’t dwell on what caused them but focuses on dealing with the emotions themselves. It avoids talking about long time frames that young children won’t understand, and strikes a balance between being honest about a situation without highlighting too much anxiety-causing uncertainty. It’s an exemplar of trauma-informed, evidence based education, and well worth reading up on.
– Julie Beck, The Atlantic
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