MR ROGERS

Did you grow up with Mr. Rogers? I didn’t – it wasn’t on TV in England. I discovered it when my two boys were little. We loved the program, and would watch it together. There was something about it that was so appealing. It was slow, it was gentle, it was entertaining and educational. It was also meaningful. Fast forward a bunch of years, and I find myself creating a podcast for young children and, shockingly, begin comparing my work to that of Mr. Rogers. Gulp!

Now in no way is my podcast anything like Mr. Rogers’ TV show. My podcasts are purely auditory. BUT, I feel the same sense of simplicity, of purity and of honesty in my podcasts that is evident in everything about Mr. Rogers.  The podcasts are serious, but still fun without being ridiculous, just like Mr. Rogers. Each podcast is 14-19 minutes long and contains three songs and a short story. We always begin with a “hello” song as I want the podcasts to be inviting, asking children to come listen and participate. Kind of like Mr. Rogers changing his shoes and putting his cardigan on every day. The other two songs sandwich the story and mostly are connected to the story in some way.

The songs are short and repetitive. We sing lots of verses with minimal change in the lyrics so they are easy to sing; and children even get to contribute lyrics to the songs. So empowering and validating for children. Just like Mr. Rogers, we spend time doing something. No zipping through one activity in a rush to get to the next. Everything is thoughtful and important.

When I began developing the podcasts, I met with a friend, Sue, who is a web designer. We knew each other quite well, as her children had been part of my preschool community. I explained what I wanted with a website and she immediately understood as it reflected my philosophy of working with young children. She listened to the podcasts. “Oh,” she said. “You’re like the Mr. Rogers of the podcast world.” What a compliment!

If you look around the website you will see it is simple and it is honest. What’s missing? Gimmicky stuff, cutesy stuff and distracting ads. I wanted the website to reflect the content of the podcasts – and I believe it does. I hope this has given you a little insight into my world of LISTEN TOGETHER PODCASTS. I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved, and strive continually to improve and create content that I believe is worthy of your time and a little investment. I invite you to listen to any or all of the three free sample podcasts and see what you think. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoy creating the songs and stories.

SHARING

YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHARE!

Have you found yourself saying to your child “be nice; share your toys.” We’ve heard other parents say it, so it must be the right thing to say. If children are squabbling, it’s so easy to say “Jack, you have to share, remember!” However, sharing is not always appropriate, and we shouldn’t expect our children to always be ready to comply. An example I would offer is this.

Jack is sitting at the table working on a puzzle. It is quite a hard puzzle and he’s been working on it for quite a while. This particular puzzle has far more pieces in it than any he has finished before. Finally he is down to just three pieces left to fit in the puzzle, when along comes Sally saying “I want to help.” Sally picks up a puzzle piece and is about to insert it when Jack yells ‘No!” and grabs it back.

A parent or teacher seeing this might well say, “Jack, you have to share.” But this is not an appropriate sharing opportunity. Jack is on the brink of a major achievement and wants the completion of the puzzle to be his own work.

So what is the right adult reaction?  Gather facts. Let Jack explain. That’s all it takes for an adult to realize this is important to Jack. Explain the situation to Sally. Once the puzzle is done, Jack may well be ready to do it again with Sally’s help, or turn the puzzle over to Sally entirely.

In my preschool, rather than telling children they have to share, we would encourage Sally to ask if she can help, and respect Jack’s answer if he says no. If Sally really wants to work on the puzzle, then her next question should be, “can I do it when you’re finished?” And the problem is usually solved.

So often adults are ready to jump and fix things without giving young children an opportunity to work things out. But children need the tools first. They need to know it’s OK to say no. They need to practice using the right vocabulary to resolve the problem. Our job as parents and teachers is to help and guide children to become problem-solvers, and resist the temptation to do everything for them.