My wife and I took our daughters with us to the polls yesterday afternoon. While our infant won't remember the experience, both girls were decked-out in "Future President" garb from Washington D.C. (a t-shirt for the tot, a onesie for the baby), recently brought back from our Nation's Capitol by their Grandma. I'd promised Addie an "I Voted" sticker, which was a mistake. At our polling place, we were informed that "the stickers have been discontinued." I'm not sure who made that decision, but it was crap. Sure, the stickers might be seen as an unnecessary expense by some, they're a long-running tradition, and a symbol of pride for voters. Stickers or not, Addie knew that we were there to make a choice about something.
On PBS KIDS, there's a fantastic new show called DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD. If you read The Rock Father often, you've probably already heard me mention it on a few prior occasions. It's the best new series for preschoolers, and it's given CAILLOU a run for his money as Addie's ultimate favorite. Based on the works and legacy of Fred Rogers and his characters from MISTER ROGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD, DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD is not only fun to watch - it's highly educational.
Each episode features two similarly-themed animated stories that are connected by a live-action sequence to reinforce the lesson being taught. It just so happens that Daniel Tiger recently debuted an episode devoted to voting. Originally aired on October 26, and repeated yesterday,"The Neighborhood Votes"/"The Class Votes" (both viewable in their entirety at PBSKIDS.org) were the perfect way to introduce a young mind to the process of voting with a simple theme: Stop, Think and Choose.
The Neighborhood Votes
The Tiger family is going to Clock Factory Park today to hear a big announcement from King Friday. Daniel has to make several choices throughout the day, culminating in one BIG group decision: King Friday announces that the children can choose one new piece of playground equipment by voting for the one they want.
The Class Votes
At school Daniel and his classmates get to choose their new class pet. Teacher Harriet explains that they can either get a bunny or a turtle. The children learn what it means to ‘vote’ and that sometimes it doesn’t always turn out your way. Each of the children find something to love about their new pet, ‘Snowball’!
After her first viewing with me (we've watched these twice), Addie was already starting to explain the process as she gave my wife an after-work rundown on what we did for the day. DANIEL TIGER'S NEIGHBORHOOD does a fantastic job of teaching, while providing scenarios for parental discussion. As Daniel and his friends had to decide between a swing-set or a slide for their new playground equipment, this gave me an opportunity to reinforce the message by asking Addie what she would choose if given the opportunity to vote. She said "the swings," which was not surprising since they tend to be her favorite activity in our frequent visits to the park. Voting aside, this was an important lesson about making choices, and a step toward teaching the little one that you can't always have everything at once - nor will you always get what you want.