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New Study Says Toddlers Learn Early Math Skills from Elmo |

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New Study Says Toddlers Learn Early Math Skills from Elmo
New Study Says Toddlers Learn Early Math Skills from Elmo

WASHINGTON(WUSA) -- Could watching Elmo actually make your child smarter?  Researchers from Children's Digital Media Center at Georgetown University think it just might.

According the Digital Media Center's recently released study,  “Toddlers Learning from Socially Meaningful Video Characters", toddlers were better at sequencing tasks when said tasks were displayed by an Elmo puppet than when they were performed by other puppets.

The researchers believe the findings demonstrate the "importance of meaningful characters for toddlers’ early learning".

“Very young children often have difficulty learning from videos,” said Sandra Calvert, the director of the psychology department’s Children’s Digital Media Center, who conducted the study along with Alexis Lauricella and Alice Ann Howard Gola.  “But when a trusted ‘friend’ delivers the message, learning is much better.  Thus, the social relationships that children develop with a character matters, even for toddlers.”

The study divided a group of 21-month-old toddlers into three sections. One of the sections watched a video with an Elmo puppet placing nesting cups inside each other, the second group watched a video of an unfamiliar puppet doing the same task, and the third group did not watch any video at all. 

Nesting the cups is a way to organize them by size, which, according to the researchers, is an early aspect of mathematical thinking.

The children who watched the video of the Elmo puppet were able to organize the cups much better than those who observed the other puppet or who didn’t see a demonstration at all. 

“Toddlers know Elmo and they are used to seeing him on a screen,” said Lauricella .  “This previous knowledge about the on-screen character may be helping children focus their attention on the novel cognitive features of the video rather than spending their limited cognitive resources on the character."

"For over 40 years we have used our Muppet characters as joyful and predictable models of learning, exploration, and curiosity.  Children and adults alike have developed strong relationships with them, providing Sesame Street with the opportunity to convey strong educational and entertaining messages,"  said Dr. Lewis Bernstein, Executive Vice President, Education, Research and Outreach, Sesame Workshop.  "We are pleased by the findings of the Children's Digital Media Center's study which indicate that learning, even for very young children, is enhanced by the strong relationships our characters create with their audience,"






For more information about the study, visit Children's Digital Media Center online.