PBS to add new family-oriented programs

"Dragon Tales" is airing 25 new episodes this month for children, and the PBS series also is offering a special on child-rearing for parents.

The common ground is how to approach problem-solving, said Rita Weisskoff, "Dragon Tales" content director, who is responsible for developing its curriculum and educational goals.

"Dragon Tales" is an animated half-hour fantasy about Emmy, 6, and her 4-year-old brother, Max, who find a magic dragon scale in their new home and journey to Dragon Land for a variety of adventures and self-discovery with their dragon friends � Cassie, Ord, Quetzal, Zak and Wheezie. Story lines include resolving conflict, being patient, reducing sibling rivalry, taking turns and trying something new.

Part of the Ready-to-Learn block of programs on PBS, the show, which first aired in 1999, seeks to prepare preschoolers for kindergarten. It is produced by Sesame Workshop and Sony Pictures Family Entertainment Group.

Goals of the series, Weisskoff said, include encouraging and showing children how to keep trying when faced with challenges, how to approach problems in new ways and that making mistakes is an important part of learning.

These approaches also are applied to child-rearing in the hour-long "Parent Tales" special.

Five families were given video cameras to record their children's behavior and family interaction. Later, at a picnic, the families were brought together to talk with Becky Bailey and Gloria Rodriquez, specialists in child development.

At that meeting the parents and experts identified challenges � such as getting children to go to bed on time; dealing with tantrums, whining and refusals to listen � and established ways to address the problems.

"Dragon Tales," Weisskoff said, "was a big influence on the parenting show. Parents really need to celebrate their small successes along the way because day-to-day life with kids can be challenging and parents may focus on difficulties rather than moments of success."

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