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The antics of Big Bird, Elmo, and Oscar the Grouch do much more than keep your toddler entertained. A new study finds that Sesame Street is a viable substitute for preschool education.

Tuning in to the electrifying singin’ and dancin’ cast of Sesame Street is just as educational as enrolling your children into preschool, according to University of Maryland’s Melissa Kearney and Wellesley College’s Phillip Levine.

Kearney and Levine found that toddlers who watched Sesame Street were 14 percent less likely to be behind in school, this is a benefit that matches kids who attend Head Start programs like preschool.

The advantages of watching the long-running TV series is particularly prominent for African-American children living in low-income areas, the researchers found.

“These findings raise the exciting possibility that TV and electronic media more generally can be leveraged to address income and racial gaps in children’s school readiness,” Kearney said in a statement.

Decades of analysis found that children who start kindergarten without a Head Start program typically fall behind the curve and lag behind their peers in later years. This is why academics and lawmakers advocate for preschool education expansion in poor neighborhoods to narrow the racial and income gaps in education.

Ideally, the program would serve as a supplement to preschool education. But barring that, Sesame Street, as the researchers say, has the power to replace preschool education because of its enchanting strategies of teaching young viewers.

“The engaging sketches somewhat subtly wrap in some preschool-level curriculum on reading, math and life lessons in a way that doesn’t bog down the entertainment value,” Mashable said.

So while your toddler is giggling at Cookie Monster growling “Me want cookie!” find solace in knowing that your child is absorbing a wealth of educational tools to help him or her excel in the future.

And if you’re in the mood to have all the feels, click here to see the impact that Sesame Street is having around the world, particularly in places where girls’ education is lacking. So much goodness here.

Cover image via Twitter

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