Johannesburg - The latest season of the groundbreaking South African children’s programme which has educated and entertained children for more than 21 years is set to premiere on SABC 2 on June 6.
During these unprecedented and challenging times, emotions can easily get out of control, particularly for youngsters who are attempting to navigate the struggles of everyday life.
In a bid to provide emotional support to South Africa’s children, the nation’s beloved kids’ show Takalani Sesame is set to focus on teaching children and parents about “Big Feelings”, like feeling scared, angry, frustrated, or sad.
The new 13th season is also set to feature a star-studded cast.
This includes the likes of Sho Madjozi, Prev Reddy, Holly and Mimi Rey, Farieda Metsileng, David Kau, and the Goliath Brothers, who will all join the show’s superstar Muppets Elmo; Zuzu; Zikwe; Kami and Moshe.
But the main focus of the latest Takalani Sesame season will focus on what youngsters can do when their emotions seem overwhelming, Innocent Nkata, the managing director of Sesame Workshop South Africa, explained.
“The season’s lessons will help children identify and name big feelings and provide strategies to manage these emotions,” she said.
“Big feelings can be difficult for young children to handle or overcome and that’s why in the brand-new 13th season of Takalani Sesame, our beloved Muppets are focusing on what to do when your emotions feel like they’re about to burst out of your body.”
Nkata said that Takalani Sesame is designed to support children’s development through playful learning and that the show is underpinned by rigorous local and international research.
“The season’s lessons will help children identify and name Big Feelings and provide strategies to manage these emotions, skills that are critical in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
While emotions might be a serious subject, Nkata insists that the show will still entertain their young viewers as they learn.
“In fact, kids learn best when they’re playing and having fun. That’s why Elmo, Zuzu, Moshe, Zikwe, Kami and animated friends like Basma, Jad and Grover come up with games and songs that let children explore different emotions and how to deal with them,” she said.
The managing director of Sesame Workshop South Africa added that the show will use true-to-life situations in order to teach youngsters how to deal with their emotions.
“This could be like feeling left out when someone else is chosen to play a game first or feeling frustrated if you don’t get something right first time, and the Takalani Sesame friends learn techniques to help them cope with big feelings, like belly breathing, counting to five or drawing it out.”
The new season will also help inspire children to think and talk about all the big emotions they may experience, whether it’s feeling nervous or being too excited to calm down, or whether it’s feeling anxious in the face of a new situation or struggling to master a new skill.
Takalani Sesame is supported by the LEGO Foundation and the organisation’s director, Kerry Kassen, added that the secret to the series’s popularity, as well as its effectiveness as a learning platform, lies in its inherent emphasis on playful learning. “Numerous studies have shown us that the combination of meaningful engagement and joy that children experience when they are playing helps to strengthen the ideas they are exposed to.”
But for Mari Payne, Sesame Workshop South Africa’s director of education and outreach, it’s Takalani Sesame’s focus on emotional development that’s especially important.
“Recent developments have proved to us the importance of building resilience and overcoming trauma by developing critical social-emotional skills. By helping children build social-emotional skills, we’re giving them the tools they need to thrive both in school and in life,” Payne said.
Danie Swart, SABC head of education, added that they are thrilled about the new Takalani Sesame season.
“SABC 2 and SABC Education have been long-standing champions of edutainment as part of our drive to entertain and inform our viewers and we are so happy to see a diverse contingent of South African celebrities joining a well-loved, proudly local show.”
Swart said that Takalani Sesame has become a cornerstone of learning for South African children, and that they are pleased to be able to continue the tradition with a new series that speaks to current issues and dynamics in society.
Season 13 of Takalani Sesame airs on SABC 2 from June 6 every weekday at 3.30pm.
The episodes are available in English on Mondays, isiZulu on Tuesdays, Sesotho on Wednesdays, isiNdebele on Thursdays and Afrikaans on Fridays.