Wednesday, November 7, 2001

Clifford Fosters School-Readiness and Character Development

Everyday, GPB shares the Clifford the Big Red Dog Series with pre-school aged children in Georgia as part of the PBS Ready To Learn Program. Clifford imparts not only entertainment, but also important social and academic knowledge in the form of Clifford's Big Ideas and the integration of specific subject area skills.

Clifford, as a Ready To Learn program, offers children a foundation of academic knowledge. Ready To Learn, in conjunction with the United States Department of Education, has identified nine subject areas to guide child development in preparation for school-readiness. These areas include: social and emotional skills; critical thinking and problem solving skills; language and literacy skills; physical and motor skills; cognitive skills; science and discovery skills; life skills; understanding and appreciating diversity; and music and art appreciation and performance skills. Each of these skill areas carries with it specific goals developed by the National Educational Goals Panel's Technical Planning Subgroup on School-Readiness. Every episode of Cliffordaddresses one of these educational goals. For example, the goals associated with cognitive skills include classifying objects, recognizing similarities and differences, and understanding spatial relationships.

In addition to its academic instruction, Clifford also offers character education. Every episode of Clifford presents one of Clifford's Big Ideas, a set of ten positive character traits, through the vehicle of storytelling. Additionally, each episode concludes with a one-minute spot where Clifford and his friends reinforce one of the following Big Ideas:

* Be a Good Friend
* Be Kind
* Be Truthful
* Be Responsible
* Believe in Yourself
* Have Respect
* Help Others
* Play Fair
* Share
* Work Together

Children who watch Clifford learn about the social and emotional challenges they must face as they grow up. Clifford and his friends offer a model of these ten character traits children need in order to master those challenges. Each of these ten Big Ideas incorporates important developmental issues such as communication, conflict resolution, consequence, appreciation of diversity, self-confidence, teamwork, and cooperation.

Use Clifford the Big Red Dog in your classroom and visit the website for activities that you and your students can do together.