Discovery Education Leadership Symposium

As a result of the pandemic, young learners are entering our schools having had fewer opportunities to socialize with peers, develop agency, and grow fundamental numeracy, early language, and literacy skills. To ensure these students are ready to actively engage in learning, education leaders must think beyond helping kids prepare for school, by helping schools prepare for kids. In this session, Akimi Gibson from Sesame Workshop explored the research behind playful learning experiences used to scale equitable access to whole-child growth and ensure all kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.


All children “can” and we have to create those conditions that allow them to. How can media be a mediator for that. Initial research done revealed that there is a hidden curriculum behind the usual ABCs and 123s. Children merely seeing themselves represented made a difference. Positive images are critical for Sesame, and nothing is from a deficient model. We always build off the strength of children.

Guided by the content and curriculum group. Steadying force of educators connecting everything. Group of advisors.

“We are entering our 53rd year of this vast experiment. Every year we learn something new. The ABCs and 123s don’t change, but how children engage around them and understand these concepts does.” It’s important to connect with schools and districts to inform how we continue this experiment and know what’s going on from the child development point of view so we can continue our legacy of research-based, science-based.

Long-term formative assessments for everything we create. Everything is research-based. Then we go into the distribution phase, where we decide when and where the media is released. Summative evaluation, needs assessment . . . continue to the cycle.

Sesame believes in a whole-child approach but a dual-generational effect as well. We are working with children b/c of their grownups. We facilitate the connection between teachers and families. Meet the children where they are, at home in communities in schools, and we are also meeting teachers where they are.

We are in the middle of an identity study and we are now researching a multi-year mental wellness for children to facilitate the “just right fit” between the educator and the family for the benefit of the child. Because both the educator and the family are critical to the success of the child, and therefore should be working together on behalf of the child.

How do we embed PL/teacher knowledge and growth into the curriculum itself. We are the most heavily researched children property in the industry. There are over 1000 independent studies completed on Sesame and its effect on student success.