PBS KIDS Survey Finds Parents Consider Media and Technology Vital Resources for Elementary School Readiness

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Parents rank social skills most important to master before entering school

ARLINGTON, VA, August 14, 2014 – As children prepare to begin elementary school this fall, parents look to media and technology as an essential part of the preparation process, according to a recently released study by PBS KIDS. The national survey of parents with young children age 2-6 found that families are struggling to prepare their children for kindergarten, and five out of 10 parents worry their child won’t have the skills they need when they start elementary school.

In addition to academic skills like math and reading, parents recognize that a broader skill set is needed for early learning success today. When asked to rank skills in order of importance for learning success, parents rank social and emotional skills first, with 88% saying it’s important that social skills be mastered before school. Among the resources used by parents to help develop kids’ social and emotional skills, TV shows are No. 1 for both categories (56% and 59%, respectively), followed by books (48% and 53%), electronic learning toys (25% and 21%), computer games (25% and 21%), websites (20% and 19%) and apps (18% and 14%).

“The results of this study overwhelmingly show that parents understand the educational benefits of exposing their children to media and technology, and that resources like PBS KIDS are critical for parents, especially those whose children are most at risk,” said Lesli Rotenberg, General Manager, Children’s Programming, PBS. “PBS KIDS reaches more kids ages two to eight and more moms with kids under age 12 than any other kids television network in the U.S. and we are committed to ensuring that every child has an opportunity to reach his or her full potential in and out of the classroom.”

Eighty-nine percent of parents surveyed are in agreement that media and technology resources can be partners in educating kids. Three-quarters (75%) have used new technology – computer games/activities, websites and apps – to prepare their child for kindergarten. Of those, 82% have used new technology to help their child develop math skills, 75% for reading skills and 67% for writing skills.

PBS KIDS Tops the Charts 
According to the survey, PBS KIDS stands out as the most trusted and relied upon media brand for elementary school readiness, ranking first in delivering on every measured skill. When asked how well networks prepare children for school, 86% say PBS KIDS helps a lot/somewhat, topping the next closest network by 14%. Parents also rank PBS KIDS as the kids’ media brand most likely to offer activities and products that support basic math (86%), basic reading (83%), life skills (78%), social skills (77%), emotional skills (75%), personal hygiene (69%) and basic writing (67%).

School Readiness Tips for Parents 
To help children prepare for the first first day of school, PBS KIDS recommends the following tips.

1. Talk with your child. Ask your child about their thoughts, feelings and expectations around starting school. Talk through what they should expect during the day. When children know ahead of time what’s going to happen, they can prepare themselves for what’s coming. PBS KIDS’ new Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelingsapp helps build school readiness skills by empowering kids to identify and express their wide and complex range of emotions through socio-emotional activities. 

2. Practice your child’s new morning routine. A few days before school starts, walk through the morning routine, doing everything they would on a normal school day, from waking up to washing up on schedule. Routines help children feel comfortable, and establishing a solid school routine will make the first day of school go much more smoothly.  Download Arthur’s “My First Week of School” worksheet to plan with your child the important things that are happening each day the first week of school.  

3. Be involved and make learning fun. Help get your child excited about learning as he/she heads to school this fall through activities you can do together. The survey showed that parents are turning to tech tools to help get their kids ready for school, and PBS KIDS has a great new, free resource: the PBS KIDS Super Vision App, which provides parents with a unique view of the games and other media their kids are interacting with, allowing parents to easily track what their child is learning and playing on PBSKIDS.org. 

4. Tour the new school. If your child is starting school for the very first time, see if the school hosts an open house you can go to. Familiarizing your child with her environment will help put him or her at ease. Together you can meet the teacher, explore the classroom and check out the playground.

5. Connect with friends. A familiar friend can make all the difference when heading to a new place. You might try calling parents from your child’s class or from other activities and finding out which children are in your child’s class this year. Refresh these relationships before school starts by scheduling a play date or a school carpool.

Additional tips and information for parents can be found in the child development section of PBS.org/parents. In addition, PBSKIDS.org offers free educational games and activities to help children build early math, reading and social and emotional skills.

These findings follow recent industry recognition for PBS KIDS. In February 2014, PBS KIDS was named Channel of the Year and Best Channel Website at the Kidscreen Awards, which celebrate the year’s best in children’s media and broadcasting. PBS KIDS was also honored at the iKids Awards, which recognize the best digital media products and platforms, where PBS KIDS won for Best Website (Preschool) and Best Streaming Video Platform (Preschool).

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted January 11-25, 2014, by Smarty Pants. More than 1,000 parents with children age 2-6 completed the online survey. All respondents were aware of PBS KIDS and the survey base is representative of TV-viewing households with young children with regards to household income and ethnicity. Any statistical differences are at a 90% or higher confidence level.

PBS KIDS, the number-one educational media brand for kids, offers all children the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television, online, mobile and community-based programs. Kidscreen- and Webby-award winning pbskids.org provides engaging interactive content, including the PBS KIDS video player, now offering free streaming video accessible on computer- and mobile-device-based browsers. For more information on specific PBS KIDS content supporting literacy, science, math and more, visit pbs.org/pressroom, or follow PBS KIDS on Twitter and Facebook.

Atiya N. Frederick, PBS KIDS; 703.739.5147; anfrederick@pbs.org
Meredith Gandy, 360PR; 646.568.3238; mgandy@360pr.com