Peg + Cat = A Win for Girls and Math

Peg + Cat = A Win for Girls and Math

Peg-cat

Photo Source - By FontanaLand (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

It's no secret my family loves PBS.  If you spend any time in our house, perusing our bookshelves, scrolling through the {kids} Kindle apps, or observing our TV watching habits, you will quickly see that it borders on obsession.  We're sort of a walking advertisement for PBS.  {Although I am in no way affiliated with PBS.}  You might hear my kids ask, "Mom, can we watch some PBS kids?"  You might see our picture with Elmo or Cookie Monster from our PBS Fun and Run adventures.  You might find our much loved Arthur and Sesame Street books strewn about the house.

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And lately, you might hear our boys singing "You Can Count on Me" or "Problem Solved" or telling each other how they are totally freaking out{Dum, dum, dum duuuum.}

Around here, we've fallen pretty hard for Peg + Cat, the latest addition to the PBS morning lineup.  Perhaps it's the math teacher in me, but I think Peg + Cat adds up to all kinds of awesome.  Never seen Peg + Cat?  Think Super Why! but substitute the early reading focus with early math emphasis.  Counting by ones, twos, and fives.  Adding one.  Measurement.  Shapes.  Sorting.  Comparison.  Patterns.  Problem solving.   All with seamless music integration.  "The Beethoven Problem" is classic.  {See what I did there?}  And all led by a confident young girl, her feline sidekick, her pal Ramone and host of other intriguing characters.

I can't help but feel that all is right with the world, if only for a brief moment, when I hear Peg singing about her latest bright idea.  During my years as a classroom teacher, I saw the stigma that girls "don't like math" played out all too often.  Whether because of social pressures, lack of confidence, or preconceived notions of what girls are supposed to be good at in school, there was more than one bright young woman who walked into my classroom with a knot in her stomach.

Math.  I hate Math.

There was also more than one skeptical parent who walked into my classroom during orientation each year.  "So, you are the math teacher? Do you have much experience?"  It was more often than not the mother with the questions.

Yes.  I am the math teacher.  I am young.  I am female.  And your daughter/son will leave this classroom a more confident student of math.  Thank you very much.

While it was five years ago when I was last in the classroom, I suspect there are still a few girls out there - and boys, too - who are fearing and loathing math because somewhere they got it in their head that it was too hard.  They lost their confidence.  They found frustration.

Enter Peg.  Confident.  Playful.  Sharp.  Charming.  And Good. At. Math.

Hallelujah.

Not only do I love the idea of Peg being a hero for little girls everywhere, but I also love the idea of Peg being a hero for little boys everywhere.

Yeah, mom.  This girl Peg is pretty awesome.  She's smart.  Knows her numbers.  Great problem solver.  You'd like her, mom.

I do like her.

And I will confidently allow her on our Television.  And on my Kindle.  And on my computer.  {Have they made any books, yet?}

Why am I such a cheerleader?  Because I think we need more of what works when it comes to education.  And I think PBS works.  (Peg + Cat is just one of a few truly amazing programs on PBS, Daniel TigerSuper Why!, I'm talking to you.)  I also think there are some good non-PBS shows that work (Doc McStuffinsDora, I'm talking to you).  But PBS is partially viewer funded and has a consistent lineup of educational and diverse programs.  The "commercials" feature rhyming, shape, or matching activities, dance parties and exercise breaks (ie...get up off the couch and move) and other safe images and messages for kids.  No branding.  No marketing to the under 5 crowd.  No worries about what they are seeing.

Am I saying all our problems would be solved if we plunked our kids in front of the TV more?  No.  Heavens, no.  But, the reality is that TV, apps, e-books, and computer games - screen time, if you will - are becoming more and more common place in our homes, in our schools, and eventually in the work place.  The reality is that PBS is available as part of a basic cable package and can be seen in many, many homes across the country.  The reality is that PBS makes my kids and their education a priority.

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