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Communicating with children

Guideline 1A

Use child-appropriate language, characters, stories, music and humour


Children learn best when communication is tailored to their specific developmental age, needs and interests. Good-quality and effective communication begins with an understanding of the basics of child development and how to best nurture this development and learning. Each age group also has specific strengths and interests that translate into the most appropriate choices in selecting storylines, characters and specific content. Fundamental to each group is the level of conceptual difficulty, with progressive age groups able to understand and requiring more complex content, contexts and forms.

Positive Example : Use child-appropriate language, characters, stories, music and humour

Sisimpur (Bangladesh)*  This is a co-production of the television series Sesame Street aimed at young children. It emphasizes hopeful, age-appropriate situations and solutions to everyday problems. The series avoids gender and disability stereotyping; portrays nurturing caregivers and adults and shows children and young people actively engaged in issues of importance to them. The series includes live action sequences written, filmed and produced by young Bangladeshi youth(2) .

 Turning Theory into Practice

This guideline can be translated into communication in many ways:

  • For children from birth through 6 years, using simple language with descriptive and sensory words, repetition, rhythm and song, as well as animal and human characters
  • For children from birth through 6 years, using rhymes, riddles, tongue twisters and simple jokes to make content as appealing as possible
  • For children 7 through 10 years, using stories about friendships, new skills or talents, daily occurrences that are opportunities for growth as well as testing one’s values and critical thinking skills
  • For adolescents 11 through 14 years, using positive role models with high moral standards, stories about balancing the influence of family/friends/media, non-pedagogical formats and guidance in helping channel the need for experimentation and independence into healthy life choices
  • For all groups, producing communication that invites children to see, imagine, hear and create
    things that they would not have thought about previously



 Guideline 1A  Guideline 1B  Guideline 1C


2. Sisimpur’s Reach and Educational Impact: Evidence from a National Longitudinal Survey of a Sesame Street Project in Bangladesh. Sesame Workshop February 2009.

* Sesame Street ® and its international coproductions (Sisumpur and Takalani Sesame), associated characters, trademarks and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. ©2011 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved. Children’s Live Action Films and Animations provided courtesy of Sesame Workshop (New York, New York).



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