For the very young
Vera McKechnie turns the pages.
For the next six weeks the afternoon edition of 'Watch with Mother' on BBC-1 will be replaced by a repeat of 'Play School', the morning programme which is running on BBC-2
Can you remember what it was like to be four years old? Everything you saw was new. But your hands were still uncertain servants. Your feet were not allowed to take you exploring far beyond your own front door. Your mind bubbled with ideas but you did not have enough words to express them. This child you once were is Play School's target audience.
Turn on your set and you will see-a house. The door opens and lets you into a room which very soon you will feel you know: Humpty Dumpty, Jemima, and Teddy live in the toy cupboard by the blackboard. The shelves are full of books. The picture board might show one of your own paintings one day. There is a corner for pets; a table for scientific experiments; seven pegs carry an ever-changing selection of dressing-up clothes; and a large hamper overflows with useful oddments for making things.
So far Play School offers the standard equipment of any good nursery school. But it also has at its disposal all the imaginative resources of television-lights that can transform a blank wall into an apple orchard, lenses that turn men into giants, film that can show anything from a spider spinning its web to a rocket ship on its way to the moon.
Above all, Play School offers a stream of exciting people-not only experts in the field of nursery education but visitors from the world of adult entertainment. Ted Moult describes his farm. George Melly provides an ABC of jazz. Many accept for the first time the challenge of shaping their material without condescension to the needs of this specialised audience. A team of twelve young men and women present the programmes, pairing up a week at a time with changing partners-a system which keeps the chemistry fresh for viewers and performers.
This testimonial from a couple of teachers whose daughter has watched Play School from the start is typical of the many letters we receive from parents: 'Her imagination has been stimulated, her language enriched and the creative ideas which are a feature of the programme have started her on many an hour of effective learning through play.'
We hope that this week-with Athene Seyler, Beryl Roques and Brian Cant-what has been true every day for thousands of children on BBC-2 can now be true during the summer holidays for the wider audience on BBC-1.