Our friend of the show, Dr Dorothy Singer, a Senior Research Scientist in Psychology explains how Chuggington can help your little one learn those important early skills.
“Not only is television fun and entertaining, but it has the potential to be a teacher of social behavior among other skills. A program like Chuggington can be a useful learning tool for a child offering content that is age appropriate. If the parent reinforces many of the concepts in the series such as sharing, helping, co-operating, and how to problem solve and overcome fears, the child will truly benefit.”
Social Development – Pre-school age:
Children at these ages learn primarily through actions and senses. They are attempting to master many cognitive skills such as learning to attend and concentrate, to associate words and symbols with objects, and to perceive and discriminate by learning how to identify similarities and differences among objects, and how to classify these objects. They have learned to trust and bond with their main caregiver through experiencing love and warmth.
They are beginning to recognize facial expressions and the emotions of joy, sadness, anger, surprise, and event disgust. The faces of the Chuggington chuggers portray the various emotions that children of this age can recognize.
An important component of the stage is the development of the concept of self and positive feeling about one’s self or self-esteem. Social skills such as sharing, taking turns, helping others, and co-operating emerge in this period. Young children begin to appreciate the same and different qualities or personality traits among their peers, and enjoy communicating with them, although there may be frequent, but brief, arguments. We see different personality characteristics vividly portrayed on Chuggington and this offers the viewer a choice of which chugger they would like to identify with.
Social Development - Three - Six Year Olds:
Children of this age group are great players who are involved in games with increasing social and complex story lines. Dramatic play is one important way that enables children to distinguish between reality and fantasy.
You hear children say: “Let’s pretend,” or “Let’s make-believe” before they start their play. Children at this stage endow inanimate objects with life. This is why you may hear the three-year-old talking to its doll or teddy bear, and why it is so easy to identify with the different characters on Chuggington.
Self-reliance is evidenced in terms of clothing and eating choices; it is enhanced by children cleaning their rooms, and helping to do simple chores in school and around the house. Children make mistakes, just as characters on Chuggington do, but they also learn that if they make a mistake, they can do things over, and that practice will help them get things just right. Parents are still the most important adults in children’s lives, but children begin to form attachments to other children and adults during this period of development.
How Chuggington Helps a Child Develop Social Readiness:
Throughout the Chuggington TV series there are many opportunities for a parent to point out social behaviors that are typical of their child’s age group. Our three main characters, Wilson, Brewster and Koko, the trainees, have various adventures where their social skills are tested. Vee, the voice of the announcer, is a warm “mother” figure who keeps trains in check, guides them through their chores, praises them, and reassures them when they are in trouble or have doubts. The trainees trust Vee just as they trust their parents. Plot themes involving trust, overcoming fears, sharing, co-operation, respect for elders, the importance of working carefully rather than hurriedly, and showing kindness to others are just a few of the main themes in the TV series. One theme, for example, learning to listen, demonstrates that there are consequences if you do not heed instructions. This is vividly demonstrated when Koko feels adventuresome and chooses to enter the wrong tunnel and eventually finds that she gets stuck on the track
Fortunately, she is rescued and learns that it is important to listen more carefully and pay attention to instructions. Similarly, other stories in the series highlight the various social skills that young children are learning to develop. In a fun way, these skills can be imparted to the viewer, and with the parent’s reinforcement, much learning takes place.
Dorothy Singer, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist, Psychology instead of Co-Director, Zigler Center Electronic Media and Families Unit