Martha Speaks Helps Kids Read

If you have raised children in the past 20 or 30 years, you know the value of PBS children’s programming. From Sesame Street to Curious George to Martha Speaks, moms and dads have seen firsthand the growth in the verbal skills of their preschoolers who watch education-based programming on PBS. For years, PBS has been conducting national surveys to determine the effectiveness of children’s programming. Year after year, when teachers and parents are asked “what media company is the most educational for children?” PBS is Number 1. PBS also comes in on top in areas of helping children gain reading and math skills and as the most “trusted and safe” place for children to watch TV.

Now, as a result of the work of 13 Florida public television stations working in 16 school districts with a total of 521 kindergarten and first grade students and 534 fourth and fifth grade  students, Florida has data that proves the educational value of PBS children’s programming.

In Southwest Florida, WGCU implemented the Martha Speaks Reading Buddies Program at Seagate Elementary School in Collier County and Westside Elementary School in Hendry County. In both schools, fourth grade student “big buddies” were paired with kindergarten student “little buddies.” Each week, for 10 weeks, the students watched a short Martha Speaks episode that introduced that day’s four target vocabulary words. They talked about the show and played a game related to it using the target words, then read a book together and used the target words to discuss the book. At the end of each session, they wrote and drew together in a journal about something related to the show, the book they read, and/or the target words.