LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM MR. ROGERS
How the Television Star Shaped Childhoods
We all deserve to be loved. Rogers knew that not everyone has someone at home who tells them that they are special and loved. So he took it upon himself to tell viewers, ending each episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” by saying, “You’ve made this day a special day by just your being you.” Feelings are mentionable and manageable. Rogers helped viewers understand that it’s okay to feel mad, sad, and scared, and he helped countless children learn healthy ways to cope with tough emotions. This was a mission dear to his heart. Margaret McFarland, a child psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh who became the chief psychological consultant for “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” shared with Rogers the concept he turned to again and again on the show: “Anything that’s human is mentionable, and whatever is mentionable can be more manageable.” You can explore more of Mr. Rogers’ enduring messages at MisterRogers.org. Share “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”with your children and show them a world where they can grow, learn, and play.
Fred Rogers may have passed away in 2003, but the world he created remains with us. In 2018, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” documented his life and outlook, and in 2019, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” depicted Rogers and the journalist whose life was changed by the star of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” These movies demonstrate that we’re still fascinated with the man behind Daniel Tiger and King Friday. Why? In part because the lessons Rogers so thoughtfully depicted are as relevant for today’s generation as they were for those who grew up watching his show. Imaginative play is a foundation of childhood. “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,” Rogers said. Rogers knew that play, which can seem inconsequential to grown-ups, is an important part of childhood development. Imaginative play allows children to step outside of their own perspective and experience another. In the process, they engage in abstract thinking and expand their universe. Mr. Rogers encouraged viewers to use their imaginations by creating a fantastical world called the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.
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