We love Sesame Street for a lot of reasons. It's one of the only children's shows that we can watch over and over and not get annoyed with. It's fun and entertaining, with engaging characters and story lines that teach empathy, acceptance, and being a good human. The songs are catchy, the muppets are adorable, and we always love to see who the special human guest star is going to be.
We watched Sesame Street as kids, and now our own kids watch it, and it's just keeps getting better. But aside from the entertainment and positive social messages on the show, there's another reason we'll keep letting our kiddos take a stroll down Sesame Street. According to a recently published study, kids who watch Sesame Street actually do better in school!
The study was actually co-written in 2015 by Wellesley College economist Phillip B. Levine and University of Maryland economist Melissa Kearney, but was only recently published in the journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics. The authors of the study contend that kids who watched the show before the age of 7 actually went on to perform better in elementary school. To come to their conclusion, Levine and Kearney studied the academic achievements and professional achievements of children who had access to the show when it first premiered, and compared it to children who didn't have access.
They used data collected from censuses in 1980, 1990, and 2000. Access to the show was determined by the strength of their television signal in their respective counties. Researchers presumed that children who did have access to the show probably watched it at some point.
Researchers used several factors to determine the academic and professional achievements of the kids, including what grade they were enrolled in, whether they went on to attend college and graduate or dropped out, and employment and poverty status. The show's impact on younger kids was the most evident. Children who had access to Sesame Street were 1.5-2% more likely to be in the right grade level for their age. Black children and kids from poorer areas seemed to be most impacted.
The study doesn't prove that the show was the cause of the improved performance in elementary. But it certainly suggest a correlation between the two.