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Early childhood skills pave way for later success

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Parents can use free resources to help their children develop skills necessary for academic success.

Advancements in digital media are helping young children use technology to develop important social and emotional skills as they enter school, and a new PBS Kids resource aims to give children the resources they need to improve those skills.

Social and emotional skills form a large part of a child’s learning foundation, and children are not going to be successful with academic content if they aren’t able to do self-regulatory things such as focus on a task, get along with others, and sit still, said Roberta Schomburg, an early childhood education expert and associate dean and director of Carlow University’s School of Education.

Preschool teachers spend much time helping children develop those self-regulating skills, and families can engage children in out-of-school activities to help them develop those skills, which also include problem-solving, self-confidence, and risk-taking.

To that end, PBS Kids recently launched Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, a new television series, mobile app, and robust website that builds on the classic PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

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Schomburg said the free resources—television show, website, and app—help children understand and manage their feelings, because young children often can be confused by feelings and can struggle to identify which exact feeling they are experiencing. The website features games, videos, and printables.

Each episode of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood consists of two engaging stories that center on a common early learning theme, such as dealing with disappointment. The series uses musical strategies to reinforce each theme. Every story includes an “imagination moment” in which Daniel plays out a preschool fantasy set to music. Then, the day’s strategy is reprised in a full song at the end.

“We’re really in a whole new place since tablets have come on the market, and the touch screen is more prevalent,” Schomburg said. “Young children often have trouble with the concept of a mouse. The tablets are so intuitive.”

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