[link to en.wikipedia.org
As author Malcolm Gladwell has stated, "Sesame Street was built around a single, breakthrough insight: that if you can hold the attention of children, you can educate them".
 Gerald S. Lesser, the CTW's first advisory board chair, went even further, saying that the effective use of television as an educational tool needed to capture, focus, and sustain children's attention. Sesame Street was the first children's show to structure each episode, and the segments within them, to capture children's attention, and to make, as Gladwell put it, "small but critical adjustments" to keep it. According to CTW researchers Rosemarie Truglio and Shalom Fisch, Sesame Street was one of the few children's television programs to utilize a detailed and comprehensive educational curriculum, garnered from formative and summative research.
The creators of Sesame Street and their researchers formulated both cognitive and affective goals for the show. Initially, they focused on cognitive goals, while addressing affective goals indirectly, in the belief that doing so would increase children's self-esteem and feelings of competency. One of their primary goals was preparing very young children for school, especially children from low-income families, using modeling, repetition, and humor to fulfill these goals. They made changes in the show's content to increase their viewers' attention and to increase its appeal, and encouraged "co-viewing" to entice older children and parents to watch the show by including more sophisticated humor, cultural references, and celebrity guest appearances.
After Sesame Street's first season, its critics forced its producers and researchers to address more overtly such affective goals as social competence, tolerance of diversity, and nonaggressive ways of resolving conflict. These issues were addressed through interpersonal disputes among its Street characters. During the 1980s, the show incorporated the real-life experiences of the show's cast and crew, including the death of Will Lee (Mr. Hooper) and the pregnancy of Sonia Manzano (Maria) to address affective concerns. In later seasons, Sesame Street addressed real-life disasters such as the September 11 terrorist attacks and Hurricane Katrina.
The show's goals for outreach were addressed through a series of programs that first focused on promotion and then, after the first season, on the development of educational materials used in preschool settings. Innovative programs were developed because their target audience, children and their families in low-income, inner-city homes, did not traditionally watch educational programs on television and because traditional methods of promotion and advertising were not effective with these groups.