Ok, first I have to confess that I am NOT fond of Elmo. His high-pitched voice and incessant laughter are grating to me so listening to any DVD that includes him - or worse, features him - is not appealing to me. But it's not always about what the parent wants because my 4-year-old daughter happens to like him. I tolerate him, not for her sake, but because I think the Sesame Street learning DVDs are entertaining and educational.
Let's get another confession out of the way: we all let our kids watch TV. I try to justify its use by trying as much as possible to steer my daughter towards programs that have some educational value. I've also realized recently after watching Preschool Prep's DVDs with my daughter that entertainment value is not to be underestimated either.
For example, repetition is the foundation of teaching a new skill or concept to children such as learning their numbers or letters, but I felt that Meet the Numbers and Meet the Letters by Preschool Prep were beyond excessive. The videos would show a number or letter and repeat it more than a dozen times (I stopped counting after that). Even my daughter asked, "Why do they keep saying the number over and over?" I'm not sure whether her reaction is proof that the suggested age range - 18 months to 5 years - for many of their DVDs is too broad but her response certainly showed she didn't enjoy it (and the fact that she hasn't asked to watch it since).
In contrast, Sesame Street's 123 Count with Me offers a kind of backstory to the numbers game with Ernie counting in real-life situations. There is repetition to enhance learning; however, it isn't delivered in a near monotone like Preschool Prep and the numbers are repeated in a larger variety of settings. Don't get me wrong, songs like "1 and 2 and 3" sung by three crows will certainly get stuck in your head but it didn't bother me as much as simply hearing a number said multiple times with basic animation.
I still cringe at Elmo's rapping about the number 5 on this DVD but it happens to be one of my daughter's favorite parts. I tolerate it to humor her and because overall the program offers a storyline, jokes and cute characters to present numbers in a fun as well as educational format.
I do think Preschool Prep's DVDs might be more valuable for a younger child. Personally, I think Meet the Numbers and the like are more suited for children under 2 years old and they might make a nice introduction to the concepts of letters and numbers for that age. However, I still think if you had to choose, Sesame Street's DVDs have much more to offer and really can be enjoyed by children of various ages; and as a mom who is listening to this stuff, the Sesame Street format is easier to tolerate.
Other Sesame Street DVDs worth trying include Learning About Numbers and Learning About Letters.
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