In August 1979, a week of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood episodes about “Going to School” aired over PBS. During that very first official theme week, Mister Rogers visited kindergarten and first grade classrooms and rode on a real school bus. He also learned something new by taking a drum lesson at Negri’s Music Shop. Meanwhile, the young puppet characters in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe were experiencing all sorts of conflicting emotions about starting school. By the end of the week they learned what school would really be like and their fear turned into excitement.
“Going to School” remains one of the most popular Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood theme weeks. Pictured above are promotional materials that Family Communications sent to PBS stations to accompany reruns of the school episodes. Included are a photograph, a press release, and the booklet “When Your Child Goes to School.” From these materials, we can summarize Fred Rogers’ thoughts on children’s anxieties when starting school.
In the pamphlet, Fred shares his positive feelings about his own school experience. He encourages parents to remember their early thoughts about school and to question their children about what they are feeling. “When Your Child Goes to School” also offers practical advice, such as touring the school beforehand and arranging playdates with other children who will also be going to school for the first time. This pamphlet was available to parents by request. These public relations materials are stored in the Fred Rogers Archive with the other “Promotion Packets.” The Promotion Packets are useful because they contain all of the publicity materials associated with the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood theme weeks. The “Going to School” packet may be helpful to researchers who are studying education, readiness for school, or children’s fears and anxieties.