TV show 'benefits PSED'

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Watching the TV programme 'Sesame Tree', Northern Ireland's version of 'Sesame Street', has positive outcomes on children's personal and social development, according to a new study.

Researchers from the Centre for Effective Education at Queen's University in Belfast found that children aged three to six years who watched 'Sesame Tree' were:

- More willing to be inclusive of others

- More interested in participating in cultural events associated with their own and other communities

- More aware of the wider environment and the importance of recycling.

Researchers compared the behaviour and attitudes of primary school children who had watched three episodes of 'Sesame Tree' per week over ten weeks, to those who didn't watch the programme, and analysed the effectiveness of the outreach pack which accompanies Sesame Tree, when used in the classroom after watching the show.

They found that the use of the outreach pack resulted in a small but positive change to children's attitudes and awareness by increasing their recognition of emotions, their willingness to participate in cultural events and improvement to their language skills.

Professor Paul Connolly from Queen's University, who led the research, said, 'Too much TV can be harmful to children, but it's all about striking the right balance in the classroom. Combining episodes of "Sesame Tree" in the daily school routine will do no harm, and as the research shows sets good foundations for learning.

'It is important that teachers follow up the messages in the show by using the outreach packs or setting their own activities.'

The makers of the programme, Sesame Tree Workshop, along with the Education and Library Boards and Early Years, the organisation for young children, have developed new resources to accompany the second series of the show, which will be sent to all Northern Ireland nurseries and schools.The resources include DVDS with footage from the show, themed activity cards and detailed teacher's guides.

Sesame Tree activity cards and lesson plans are available to download at www.bbc.co.uk/sesametree.

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