Although he rarely says a thing, all of the silent wondering “What if?” by Curious George that leads to disaster, adventure, and fun, is rubbing off on children.
A new study of the PBS KIDS television series based on the books by H. A. Rey and Margret Rey finds that the show and books developed to tie into the program improved the science and math test scores of 4- and 5-year-olds.
The study, completed earlier this year by the Concord Evaluation Group, involved 155 families in 31 states. Families received books and/or episodes of the show. Children who watched the Curious George episodes scored better on a test of the science and math concepts covered—such as buoyancy, sound, sorting, and plant life—than children who didn’t watch. And children who read books developed to tie into the show also scored better on a test of the science and math concepts covered in the books, including measurement, hibernation, colors, and weather, than counterparts who didn’t read those books.
The study also found that the show made parents feel more comfortable with helping their children learn science and math. About 86 percent of parents whose kids watched the show and 84 percent of parents whose kids read the books told researchers that Curious George helped them feel more confident that they could help their children learn about science and math.
The real question, of course, is whether these parents would be OK with their kids bringing home an elephant, taking their toy robots for a swim, or making cakes out of radishes instead of carrots.
Families in the study had children of similar age, gender, ethnicity, household socioeconomic status, parent education, prior exposure to Curious George, family interest in science and math activities, and children’s curiosity about science and math.
The television series, which airs weekdays on PBS stations, is inspired by the books about a mischievous monkey and his friend, the man with the yellow hat, who seems to have endless patience when it comes to George’s curiosity.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.