Early programming for children was limited to cartoons or locally produced variety shows. Several television producers observed that children sat for hours watching television and decided to take advantage of that fact. Thus, the idea for “Sesame Street” was conceived in 1966 and the program first aired in 1969. It was designed to help prepare children for school and to teach cultural diversity and social skills.
Sesame Street was the first children’s program based on educational research. Initially the program was developed with less advantaged minority pre-schoolers in mind but later became popular with all groups. The program used puppets, animation, live actors and celebrities to teach the alphabet, counting, phonics, basic social skills and cultural awareness.
Studies over the years have shown that preschoolers exposed to Sesame Street and other educational television shows has created a generation of children who are more successful in school and better readers. In this sense, educational television has had a positive impact on a generation of children.
With an influx of spinoffs, educational television has changed the landscape of programming in a positive way. Now, parents, teachers and other caregivers look to educational television to supplement the education of millions of children.