Preparing Toddlers For School

For nearly 40 years Fred Rogers and his program "Mister Roger's Neighborhood" was broadcast into almost every home in the United States.

During that time, his calm voice and gentle wisdom helped guide children through almost every learning experience. So, with back to school just around the corner, "Mister Rogers Neighborhood: Going To School" is now available on DVD.

Joanne Rogers, who was married to Fred Rogers for 50 years before his passing, tells The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler that the DVD is just a tool —parents are the ones who can really help their children.

"I'd like them to take away the fact that they are the most important people in their children's life," she says. "They can be the one to help them best. They know their child best."

It was part of her husband's philosophy to tell kids what to expect from new experiences.

Ellen Galinsky, a child development expert and President of The Families and Work Institute says, "Try to understand what they think and expect so, if they've got some outrageous expectations like you're supposed to know everything when you walk in, we can help and say, 'No, that's not true. School is place for learning.' "

The DVD comes with a companion booklet, featuring special care-giving tips to reduce stress and anxiety about school and help children to become better learners. Topics covered in the booklet include:

  • Helping Your Child Get Ready for Kindergarten
  • What You Can Do to Help Your Child Feel More Comfortable About Starting School
  • Once School Starts, How You Can Help Your Child Get Off to a Good Start
  • How You Can Help Your Child Talk About How Things Are Going at School
  • How to Help Your Child Enjoy Books
  • Everyday Ways to Help Your Child be a Better Learner
  • How Play and Learning are Connected

Galinsky suggest taking the kids to school for a visit, invite a child from the neighborhood who had, the year before, a teacher your child is going to have so that the older kid can explain what to expect.

One tip the DVD includes is pasting a family photograph in your child's lunch box as a reminder that the family will be together again at the end of the day.

"Psychologists call those, transitional objects," Galinsky says, "because they help kids make that transition.

"What Fred is so wonderful at doing is to help children understand those fears, but not to say, 'They don't exist; Oh, don't worry, it will all be fine.' That doesn't really acknowledge that the child is afraid."

Mrs. Rogers notes, "I think Fred had a gift of being in touch with the child inside. There is a very well known quote, 'All of us have a child inside. And sometimes it's active, and very active.' And his was seemingly very active."

The DVD bonus features include:

  • Crayon Factory Tour: the most-popular and most-requested factory tour
  • Two DVD-ROM Games: "Speedy Delivery Matching Fun" and "Build a Neighborhood"
  • DVD Game: "Help Pack Your Lunch"
  • Sing-Along: "Did You Know?"
  • Read-Along: "A Piece of Red Paper"
  • Recipe Fun: Alphabet Soup and Egg Salad Sandwich
  • Activities: "Making Modeling Dough Letters" and "Flashlight Fun"
  • Neighborhood Gallery
  • About Fred Rogers: Photo Album