Bud has been eagerly awaiting the release of Sesame Beginnings, a new line of DVDs that feature beloved Sesame Street characters as babies and focus specifically on the relationships between the babies and their caregivers. For what seems like months he's been watching the video clips available on the PBS website and scanning the DVD aisles of every store we enter to see if they're in stock yet. Last week, thanks to partial funding by the Tooth Fairy, Bud was finally able to take one home.
I was surprised that the series held such allure for Bud, as babies have never been among his favorite things. I imagined that he'd pop the DVD in once, see that there were actual human babies sprinkled in among the Muppets, and abandon it entirely.
I was wrong.
Bud is absolutely captivated by this DVD. All week he has been seeking me out to re-enact parent/child moments from it - songs, games, interactions (though he is quite clear that in our version we must change all child-references from "baby" to "boy.") I watched him watch the DVD this morning; he was transfixed, grinning, his face only inches from the screen. And it wasn't just the Muppets. His big smile got even bigger when he watched real-life pop singer Brandy interacting with her 3-year-old daughter Sy'rai.
Then it hit me.
The target audience for Sesame Beginnings is children 6 months and older. Based on his intellectual and cognitive development, Bud should be far beyond it. But based on the work he and I have been doing together with RDI, I recognize that this is precisely on target with the level of his relational development.
I think Bud loves this DVD because, perhaps for the first time, he can relate to it. He knows why the babies and parents are relating to each other the way they are. He knows how it makes them feel. He knows why they continue to seek it out, and he understands the things that they each do to keep it going. Just like the 6-month-old children that the Sesame Beginnings producers had in mind when they put it together, Bud looks at the characters' interactions and he sees himself.
I looked at the Sesame Beginnings website this afternoon and saw that they describe it this way:
Sesame Workshop is breaking new ground through the introduction of an innovative research-based DVD series for parents and young children that encourages learning through parent-child interactions. Based on research that shows that young children learn best when experiences are shared with a loved one, these DVDs -- Sesame Beginnings -- are specially designed to help parents and caregivers encourage their child's curiosity and interest in learning during everyday interactions.
I was struck by how, with a few alterations in language, this description could be used to describe the goals of the earliest stages of RDI - the stages, in fact, that Bud has only recently mastered.
The folks at Sesame Workshop have come under fire with the release of Sesame Beginnings because the development of a line of DVDs for infants stands in stark contrast to the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics that children under two have no exposure to television. Perhaps I should give Sesame Workshop a call; it seems Bud and I may have discovered a whole new target audience.