Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Mister Rogers' Neighborhood so slow?
Research clearly shows that's how young children learn best. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood is carefully designed to speak effectively to preschool-aged children. Mister Rogers talks in ways children understand, at a pace they can absorb, and with a consistency that creates a calm, safe place for preschoolers to visit. He leaves time for children to reflect and respond, and he takes time to prepare them for what will come next and to explain what has happened before.
Fred Rogers worked directly with young children as part of his advanced training in the University of Pittsburgh's Graduate School of Child Development. As he learned about communicating effectively with young children, he understood the pace at which they take in information. Because he had years of first-hand experiences listening to children and talking with them, he was able to translate that authentically to his television communication. He deliberately paced his speech and kept the content clear so children can comprehend, and he gives them time to reflect and digest. That way, his messages aren't just surface, they go deep and make a strong impact.
Why does Mister Rogers change to a sweater and sneakers?
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood takes place in a "television house." Mister Rogers stops by there during his workday to "visit" with his viewers. Since he's coming from his office, he's dressed in more formal business clothes. Changing to more comfortable clothes, like a sweater and sneakers, helps to create a more relaxing atmosphere.
That beginning ritual also gives children a predictable opening with some time to settle in. It provides them with a transition, so they're ready to look and listen when he starts to show something or talk. Also, because zipping a sweater and tying shoes are skills that young children are just learning to do, Mister Rogers sometimes uses that opportunity to talk about those skills and how difficult they can be for young children. He's also deliberately careful about hanging up his clothes and putting his shoes away, letting children see that we are responsible for things that belong to us.
Why don't we ever see Mister Rogers in Make-Believe?
From the very beginning, Fred Rogers decided not to appear in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. He intended that to be a place for pretending. Because young children have a hard time sorting out what's real and what's just pretend, he created two separate areas -- the "television Neighborhood" where reality prevails -- and the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
By introducing that Make-Believe segment, he could encourage children's pretending, and he could be clear that he is a real person, not a pretend person. In that role, he also could be the mediator after that segment, helping children think about what they've just seen and be more aware of the overall message in the Make-Believe story.
Why don't the puppets' mouths move?
The puppets in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe are hand puppets. Because of their simple movements, without moveable eyes or mouths, they leave much to the child's imagination. That allows children to bring their own ideas to what they're seeing. Also, children might be encouraged to have their own play with simple puppets, making one from a sock or paper bag or even just using their hands. What makes them believable for children is that the characters they portray are childlike and believable. Children know what it's like to feel pompous like King Friday, shy like Daniel Tiger, and feisty like Lady Elaine.
How does Mister Rogers' Neighborhood help children be ready for school?
The Neighborhood series is full of people -- real people -- who enjoy learning and who want to share what they've learned with young children. As with most things, attitudes about learning are "caught" not taught.
All through the series we include traditional "tools" for learning ABC's, numbers, letters, colors, and basic concepts. They're offered in a way that children can see that reading, writing, and counting are helpful, interesting, and fun, so they'll want to learn those skills.
Just as importantly, the programs foster the social and emotional "tools" for learning self-esteem, curiosity, self-control, the ability to pay attention, to handle mistakes, and deal with anger. Children are more able to use their energies for learning if they feel good about themselves, can deal with their feelings, and get along with others.