A Summertime Gift

Hedda SharapanFor many of my friends in early childhood, this is the time of year they love most. It’s the beginning of summer. Some programs take a break. Other programs have a slower pace, more like camp. Professors’ schedules are often lighter. Whatever it’s like for your work, I hope you can take a bit of a breather these days. 

When we were in production for Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, this was a quieter time for us. Fred and Joanne went to their summer home in Nantucket, where Fred would relax and refuel. That’s where he would write the scripts for the next season, and I can imagine how much it helped to have that break in production. It does help to stop the everyday routine, even for just a little bit -- to relax and reflect on where we’ve been and think about how we can make things better for the next season ahead. 

With that in mind, I thought about giving you a gift of a Neighborhood treasure that always gave me the feeling of relaxing on a quiet summer day. It was on a Neighborhood episode when Fred visited The Empire Brass Quintet and heard them play a piece called Central Park Morning. The sound of it takes me right into the ease of summertime, no matter what stress I’m dealing with. I thought you might appreciate it, too. Be sure to stay with it to the end of this three-minute video clip for more delightful moments! 

This video has more than just the wonderful music. Fred has also given us two great examples that we can learn from. 

Being an appreciator

All through the Neighborhood series Fred showed us what it means to be an appreciator, especially of people and for the work they do -- from the factory workers and the shoe store salesman to children’s author/illustrator Eric Carle and cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Did you see and hear how warmly Fred thanked the Empire Brass musicians on the video? 

Fred made an even greater statement of appreciation by not wanting to leave while they were playing! As you might have guessed, that was spontaneous – and what a great way to say, “Bravo for what you do – and for who you are!” And remember, it’s not just musicians who need to hear “Bravo!” and “Thank you.” Think of what it means when children hear us expressing our appreciation – for them and what they say and do. It’s just as important for them to hear us thanking everyone who helps, like the people who bring lunch and the cleaning crew. 

Asking Questions


Wasn’t it delightful to hear Fred’s question to the trumpeter about why he makes those sounds at the beginning of a piece! Fred was always full of questions, and his questions were not just what a child might ask, but what we adults might be curious about as well. I even remember Fred saying that questions are more important than answers. 

In early childhood these days, people are talking a lot about nurturing children’s inquisitive minds and encouraging them to ask questions. One way we do that is to model asking questions ourselves, as Fred did on that video. 

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I hope you can find some time this summer to relax, reflect and refuel. You certainly deserve that for all the emotional and physical energy you’ve been giving, whether you’re working directly with young children or preparing others to do that important work.

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