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Whoa, Momma!

Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Tracey Henry and Suzannah DiMarzio

Nick launches new show focused on math skills -- but is TV good for preschoolers?



Teamumizoomi It's always tempting to park your kids in front of the TV for a little while just so you can get some work done around the house. And if the program's supposed to be educational, then you don't feel so guilty about using the Electronic Babysitter, right?

The folks at Nickelodeon -- the folks who gave us Blue's Clues and Dora the Explorer -- know this about us. So on Monday, Jan. 25, the network is launching Team Umizoomi, which they're calling the first series for preschoolers that will focus entirely on math. Yes, you heard me right -- math for preschoolers, and we're not talking about Sesame Street's Count von Count, either.

The series, which kicks off with two back-to-back episodes beginning at 11:30 a.m. (ET/PT), offers 20 half-hour shows featuring a tiny team of superheroes -- a boy, a girl and (of course!) a break-dancing robot -- who use their mighty math powers to help little kids solve big problems. The programs are supposed to help kids learn about numbers, counting, computations, measurement, patterns and shapes.

Cyma Zarghami, Nickelodeon’s president, said that the network saw an opening and took it. “Everybody’s trying to teach preschoolers how to read and nobody is trying to teach them how to do math,” she told the New York Times.

Of course, sometimes you have to wonder just how much the kids absorb from these TV lessons. (Or if what they're absorbing is bad, as this study found.) Remember the Baby Einstein DVDs? Remember when the University of Washington did a study in 2007 that said television viewing by babies or younger children could be harmful and actually named Baby Einstein as offenders? And remember how, back in October, the company agreed to give a full refund to anyone who asked?

Now the co-founder of Baby Einstein, William Clark, has gone to court demanding access to the researchers' documentation. Since he and his wife sold their company to Disney in 2001, Clark says he's not doing it for monetary reasons. Apparently he just wants to check their math.

[Team Umizoomi photo courtesy Nickelodeon]

-- Sherry Robinson

[Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 11:04am]


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