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A New Study Says That Children Who Watched Sesame Street Had Better School Performance In Early Grades

A new study suggests that the The Count, Elmo and his friends from Sesame Street had a huge effect on helping prepare kids for school when the show first began to air.

A study posted in the American Economic Journal this week studied the effects of children who watched Sesame street when it aired in 1969 and their relative performance in school and careers and compared it to census data over the same time period. The study found that kids who watched sesame street before the age of seven had an overall higher performance rating in school.


Sesame Street (PBS) 1969 to present
Shown from left: Cookie Monster, Prarie Dawn, Ernie, Elmo, Bert, Oscar the Grouch, Grover



This isn’t a surprising find to researchers behind the study, but rather a confirmation of the show’s original purpose when it first began: “This show initially aired in 1969; its fundamental goal was to reduce the educational deficits experienced by disadvantaged youth based on differences in their preschool environment. It was a smash hit immediately upon its introduction, receiving tremendous critical acclaim and huge ratings.” This is why sufficient data exists on children who watched Sesame Street from that time period. 


The original cast of Sesame Street, 1969


What makes the findings so extraordinary is that the positive impact this show had on economically disadvantaged children was so much easier and less expensive than similar government funded programs at the time, the study says. “In that regard, Sesame Street satisfied its goal of preparing children for school entry, especially for black and disadvantaged children. Remarkably, the show accomplished that at a cost of around $5 per child per year (in today’s dollars).”


You can view the entire study and its findings here.


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