Last night I attended a presentation put together by PBS and the SV Moms giving parent bloggers a behind the scenes peek at what it takes to create the amazing Super WHY! show (one of Bunny and Wallie's favorites). We met the creator and executive producer, Dr. Angela Santomero, and she essentially stripped the show bare giving us the "based-in-educational-research" reasons why the show was created, why and how the characters were chosen, and explaining the goals of the show and presenting evidence that it really does help children learn to read. (If you've ever seen the show, you know it does.)
We are a fairly PBS-loyal family and I think it's because I am of the (40 whatever) generation that grew up on Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Electric Company, Zoom, and 3-2-1 Contact. (Not having cable helps, too, because PBS is our only "kid channel.") There was no Nick or Disney channel in the 70's, and no cable where I lived, either. The reason why I love PBS is because I trust that if my kids want to watch a show, it's going to be kinder, gentler, and educational-er. Even if I've never watched the show before, I'd feel comfortable letting my kids watch any of their shows without me being in the room.
One of the things I have been thinking about since last night is PBS' attempt to keep the 6+ age group engaged in their programming. They recognize that they are experts on the preschool set and have programming (via their PBS Go brand) that speaks to younger elementary school kids, but increasingly it is hard to compete with other programming (Nick and Disney tween programming) as well as outside influences like what kids are exposed to at school. One of the they questions they posed to us (paraphrasing) was, "How do you keep your 6-to-8-year-old kids engaged in age-appropriate programs in light of all the media influences they are exposed to."