Did you grow up dreaming of sunny days chasing the clouds away? Then there’s a pretty good chance you were a straight-A student. A new study shows Sesame Street helps kids do better in school.

New research published in the American Economic Journal found that kids who had access to Sesame Street before the age of seven had improved academic performance. The impact was most significant in elementary school, especially among Black children and boys who grew up in poor counties. However, it had no real effect on college attendance, graduation rates or long-term career prospects.

It’s important to note that the findings were based on kids access to the show, not specifically that they watched it. The information came from census data on kids from 1980, 1990 and 2000. Access was determined by the strength of television signals in individual counties across the country.

“You can think about this as kids potentially having access as opposed to watching the show,” study author Melissa Kearney told the American Economic Association. “We don’t know who actually watched the show. We know that you probably could get it in your house or you probably couldn’t. And we also know that at the time, most of the kids who probably could get it were probably watching it.”

The researchers then assessed the kids’ academic and career success based on several factors, including what proportion of kids were enrolled in the appropriate grade for their age, drop out and graduation rates, college attendance and their employment, wage and poverty status.

“Our mission to help kids everywhere grow smarter, stronger, and kinder knows no geographic boundaries,” Jeffrey D. Dunn, Sesame Workshop’s chief executive officer, said in a press release celebrating the show’s 50th anniversary. “We’re everywhere families are and we never stop innovating and growing. That’s what keeps us timeless.”

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: photo: Sesame Street via YouTube

 

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