There may be no shortage of educational kids shows that can teach our kids about things like ABCs and numbers, but “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” has a unique educational theme that can actually be quite useful in everyday parenting.
by Adrienne Thorne
Kids’ shows are annoying. Let’s face it. Put them on loop, and we parents basically want to shoot ourselves. So, in my view, these shows have got to earn their keep.
Some shows, I admit, earn their keep in our house by the sheer delight they impart to my kid (like Netflix’s “Dino Trux”). But then there are shows like “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” that earn their keep by actually teaching my child important things.
Is Daniel Tiger a veritable “Sesame Street” of pre-school knowledge? Not at all. Rather, it is full of emotional intelligence lessons that immediately become cool/feasible simply because someone as fun as Daniel Tiger is talking about them.
Emotions? What are those??
The Daniel Tiger character is mad, is happy, is silly, is sad, has fun, gets bored, gets disappointed, gets excited… You get the idea. And so does my three-year-old son. So much so that we can reference the episode where Daniel Tiger goes to the doctor and has to get a shot, when it comes time for check-ups in our house. “Maybe I can say, ‘Close your eyes, and think of something happy,’ like Daniel Tiger does when I have to go to the doctor,” says my three year old. Why yes you can.
Every episode has a little emotional or behavioral lesson of some kind, and a little mini-song about it. Annoying? Kind of. Effective? Definitely. Especially for my kid who was singing the words to the country songs I listen to by about 18 months. He remembers the Daniel Tiger lesson songs better than I do!
I’ll admit it, the show is a little annoying after a while. But I’m willing to put up with it, for the trade-off of the good lessons.
And of course, there are head-scratching elements as well:
Why are Daniel Tiger’s neighborhood monarchs named after days of the week?
Why is his little black friend, “Miss Elaina,” constantly calling everyone “Toots”?
And perhaps the biggest mystery of all, as expressed by my three year old while laughing quietly to himself, hours or even days after watching an episode: “I just don’t know why Daniel Tiger says, ‘Ugga Mugga.’”
Where did it go, Netflix?
Unfortunately, this show is no longer streaming on Netflix. So watching options are either buy it on DVD, or else PBS kids has about 3 or 4 full length episodes available for streaming online at a time. That’s how we’ve been watching it, so unfortunately we’ve missed some pretty big stuff – spoiler, Daniel Tiger now has a sister! Guess Mom and Dad Tiger got busy in our absence! Good for them, very pro-life.
Adrienne Thorne blogs at Thorne in the Flesh: A Faithful Catholic’s Guide to Netflix, Hulu, and More.