2. The Importance of Emotional Intelligence

“You’ve made this day a special day, by just you being you, there is no person in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.” –  Fred Rogers.

A visionary before his time, Rogers believed emotional intelligence and feelings of acceptance and love were essential pillars of early education for every child. In his own youth, Rogers passed through a difficult period of respiratory problems that kept him away from other children. Isolated and overweight, his maternal grandfather was the role model in his life who stepped in and began to build his sense of self esteem.

As an adult, Rogers childhood experiences caused him to reject the popular sentiments of the time which often encouraged children to politely hide their emotions and “behave” without asking questions. Going against the tide he created each episode of Mister Rogers to explore the complex feelings children experience and taught coping strategies by interweaving important lessons into songs and stories.

Topics such as sibling jealousy, punishing, accepting people who are different, and even death, were patiently explained with a compassionate and empathetic cadence that acknowledged and accepted the real emotions young children face.

16 years after Mister Rogers went off air, research into confidence and emotional skills teaching in early development consistently shows emotionally intelligent children have  increased overall success with grades and classroom participation, as well as better relationship building skills and engage less frequently in unhealthy behaviors.

Nowadays there is a growing effort to teach social and emotional learning (SEL) in schools and many mobile apps and educational technologies have stepped up to address the topics, with some incredible emotional app breakthroughs for children in special education. The app guide Fundamentally Children makes it easy to filter searches for specific educational apps for target age ranges and specific topics

3. Play as a Powerful Method of Learning

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.” –  Fred Rogers.

Perhaps Fred Rogers’ most impactful philosophy was his championing of playful learning. Rogers possessed the unique talent of engaging with children in make believe and simultaneously teaching complex ideas in a serious yet also entertaining way that stimulated children’s natural curiosity.

Turns out #misterrogers was ahead of his time for #edtech and #innovation

Building on the progress made by Rogers and other pioneers, early childhood and primary education has been experiencing a transformation as many new methodologies have begun to embrace non traditional teaching styles and opt for play based mechanics that embrace new technology.

The Fun Academy, for example, is a complete Kindergarten curriculum based around games, entertaining learning, and technology, that engages young children fully in playful learning. Altschool also works from within the classroom, with an innovative platform aimed at providing students personalized educational experiences. Tocaboca was a pioneer in the educational mobile arena, offering educational play outside of the classroom.

Currently, mobile app platforms offer not only offer a searchable library of great learning games, but also offer guidance and resources for parents. The supportive online communities that have sprung up around mobile app platforms offer advice and guidance on how to navigate play-learning technology. Empowering parents to transform downtime, into learning time, anytime.

With the rapid advancement of technology, it will be increasingly important in the next few years to keep Mister Rogers’ core philosophies at heart. As new technologies present new educational opportunities, the best way to harness their positive potentials, will be keeping in mind Rogers’ example, to ensure future learning environments always encourage playful creativity, empathic awareness, and stimulate curiosity and wonder.

About the Author:

Gonzalo Rodriguez is the CEO and co-founder at Papumba, a startup developer of educational apps for children and chosen as one of Google’s Android Developer Stories of 2016.