The Three Best Tips on How to Introduce Our Grandchildren to Sesame Streets’ Breakthroughs, As Relevant Today As They Were Fifty Years Ago

Sesame StreetSesame Street is 50 years old!  For us Boomer grandparents, that means that our children were the first to experience Sesame Street.  The concept was revolutionary at the time.  No commercials to tempt the young ones to overdose on sugar or for them to ask us to buy the newest fad.  It was and is revolutionary to teach basic learning skills through light and bright colors and sound, catchy music, catchy puppets, and more.  To this day, I sing a song to our grandchildren that I sang to our children every morning which I believe came from Sesame Street, but I cannot seem to locate its origin.

“It’s a beautiful day today

And what are we going to do?

We are going to laugh and dance

And sing and play today.”

Repeat.

My son-in-law commented that he loves that I sing that to his children in the morning when I am there.  Yes, I dance and sing with them as I sing the song.  It is so uplifting and happy and sets the tone for the type of day we want for our children and grandchildren, especially when they are with us grandparents.

On its 50th birthday, the Sesame Street origins and its secrets of success are being shared in the media.  To learn more about how Sesame Street evolved and succeeded, read, “Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street? by Gabriela Sama, November 26, 2018, National Museum of Natural History.

Among the Sesame Street breakthroughs was the demonstration of the belief that those of different cultures and ethnicities could live together in harmoniously in the special place of Sesame Street, shown through puppets and the real people that interacted with them.  Our children’s worlds were expanded to learn about different cultures, traditions, and rituals.  What I loved was that the Muppets had different characters and personalities and they lived together too.  Big Bird was the innocent child, perpetually around age 6 and then there was Oscar the Grouch.  We could relate.  We Boomers learned along with our children so many life lessons, getting along, and friendship skills and more all the while by being thoroughly entertained.  Life skills and school learning was combined in a perfect package.

The themes also expanded horizons.  Conflict resolution was taught along with numbers.  Today, themes have expanded to include discussions of divorce, homelessness, disabilities, and more.  Inclusion, love, kindness, the importance of family, and meaningful relationships, are themes that resonated with this Boomer when our children were little.  See The Washington Post article, emphasizing the reasons why Sesame Street is a 2019 Kennedy Center Honors Recipient, “A friend to everyone As ‘Sesame Street’ turns 50 and accepts the Kennedy Center Honors, its lessons in niceness are still as easy as 1-2-3,” by Hank Stuever, December 2, 2019.

Another breakthrough was that the music was multicultural, too. For the history and evolution of the musical and famous performers side of Sesame Street, see the New York Times article, “How ‘Sesame Street’ Started a Musical Revolution,” by Melena Ryzik, November 26, 2019.

Our children were introduced to all kinds of music.  In my reading of different articles, I learned that Sesame Street music had several functions. It served as backing tracks for animation and film clips and as songs for the human actors and Muppets to sing, but most of all, one of the smartest breakthroughs that created the buy-in among parents and caregivers, it included live performances by well-known guest artists, singers, actors and other performers.  We Boomer  parents fell in love with the show and watched it with our children, a win-win for us to be present to reinforce skills, and to dance and sing along with our children.

We parents loved the musical guests like Pete Seeger, Carly Simon, Linda Ronstadt, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Billy Joel, Celine Dion, and so many more. We tuned in to see them perform, read books, tell stories, all that captured our interest as well as our children’s interests.   On any show for adults or children, how can you beat Stevie Wonder, singing live on Sesame Street to an audience of real children dancing and enjoying the performance.  See it on the link to the New York Times above or on the You Tube link.   As said on one of the You Tube comments to the video, “People of different races working and playing together, and the whole thing is being led by a man with a disability.”  It does not get better than this for all of us and what we want for our grandchildren to experience.

As you can see, I loved watching Sesame Street with our children.  I just assumed that our youngest grandchild loves Sesame Street too.  On my last visit to our youngest grandson, now almost two years old, I saw him watching Paw Patrol.  His mother said that it was his favorite show.  I was surprised and vocalized my surprise that it was not Sesame Street.  She said he had never seen Sesame Street.  He watched Paw Patrol when his older siblings watched it, they tried to keep him from television as much as they could, and they did not have HBO, which is now where Sesame Street is shown.  I said, what about You Tube?  I took that little precious grandchild and turned on my I Pad to a clip of Sesame Street songs.  Sure enough, he immediately started smiling, dancing and bouncing to the Muppets.

My first best tip as a Boomer Grandmother is to use You Tube to introduce Sesame Street to your young grandchildren, following their parents’ rules as to when and how to introduce them to watching television.  Throughout our time together, I periodically danced and sang with our grandchild to YouTube Sesame Street snippets and recoiled as he periodically watched Paw Patrol and especially commercials!  I selected short musical segments appropriate to his age and attention span.

My second best tip was we gave him a holiday gift of HBO by direct deposit of the monthly cost to his parents’ account.  Actually, we realized that the gift of HBO was one the entire family would enjoy!  But now we know that there is access to Sesame Street current programming and hope that the parents of our precious youngest grandchildren get hooked in too.  Maybe even the older siblings will be interested in some of the segments.  The new musical and performance guests are doing hip hop and rap and should get them watching too.

My third best tip is for us Boomer grandparents to reminisce by watching some musical segments from the shows from our children’s childhood with our grandchildren on You Tube, like the Stevie Wonder segment. We watched with our children. We will appreciate the “golden oldies,” the historical ones from 30-50 years ago. We can see reruns with our grandchildren. The youngest grandchild won’t care about the difference between rock n’ roll and rap, and the purpose of Sesame Street is to expand their horizons.  It is all new to them and we may want to watch those performances in addition to the new bands, singers, and performers with

 

Joy,

 

Mema

 

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