Sesame Street to help prepare Lexington Terrace children for school

January 30, 1995|By Tia Matthews | Tia Matthews,Sun Staff Writer

Big Bird, Cookie Monster and the other Sesame Street characters will visit Lexington Terrace in West Baltimore during the next four years as part of a new program designed to prepare children for school.

The Sesame Street Preschoolers Educational Program will give day care providers the skills needed to educate preschoolers, supporters said as the program was introduced at City Hall last week. Using books and Sesame Street shows, teachers from Maryland Public Television also will give parents in the public housing development tips on educating their children.

"By encouraging parents to become involved early and by making learning fun for both parent and child, a child's potential for learning is increased," Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said of the program, sponsored by MPT and the Baltimore-based Casey Foundation. "Parents who get involved early in their children's education tend to stay involved after the child has entered school," he said.

"Getting kids ready and eager for school is one of the most important things we can do for our future," added Executive Director Douglas Nelson of the Casey Foundation, which provided a $140,000 grant.

The program will involve youngsters, ages 2 to 5, from about 300 families at Lexington Terrace. About eight days a month, MPT will send two teachers into the development's two day care centers. Teachers will read books and talk to children about the educational segments seen and heard on Sesame Street.

"This is a way for Public Television to reach out beyond the television into the community," said Raymond Ho, president of MPT.

The program also will show parents how to educate and broaden communication skills of preschoolers. The Sesame Street program is being used in 13 Maryland counties, but this is the first attempt to use it in a public housing development. MPT will seek participants in about two weeks.

"We are creating a model," said Susan Baukhages, MPT's manager of regional promotions. "If it's successful, this can be replicated any place in the city, state or country."

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