Flickr photo by wwarbyTV programming for preschoolers has been growing in leaps and bounds since I was a kid.
We had Sesame Street.
But while you're debating between the Spanish instruction on Handy Manny vs. Diego vs. the slices on Sesame Street, here comes another option.
Disney is ditching SoapNet (really, I won't miss it) and by 2012, today's babies will be dedicated Disney Junior watchers.
At least that's the plan. But do we need another preschool channel?
With PBS Kids Sprout and Nickelodeon's Nick Jr., not to mention Disney's own preschool programming (Playhouse Disney), not really.
But according to Variety, the Mouse will be taking its morning preschool programming from Disney Channel and shifting it to an all-day channel of its own -- something akin to the Nick Jr. version of Nickelodeon.
So the kids who don't want to cede control of the tube when their big brothers and sisters hop off the bus won't have to. Disney's even hoping to hold on to some of those kids, pushing this channel out for the 2 to 7 age range -- hoping to bridge the gap between their kiddie programs and the decidedly tween-oriented Hannah Montana, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and other afternoon shows.
It's those tween shows that have made parents of preschoolers wary of Disney Channel. They come home from preschool and want to turn on the TV to the channel that was on before breakfast -- only to come up with some sass-talking, boy-obsessed teens who fascinate them.
Suddenly the toddler is rolling her eyes and swinging her hips, and it's time to put your foot down.
Several friends have banned the Disney Channel outright from their homes because of it. I'm still a fan of the likes of Handy Manny and The Imagination Movers; but I admit I'm disappointed Disney isn't making this move sooner rather than later.
Even turning off the TV and banning the tween shows from our repertoire doesn't protect us from the ads.
We may not need yet another preschool channel, but the more distance put between the shows for toddlers and the shows for teens, the easier life will be for parents.
The change will happen in 2012 -- are you looking forward to it?