They say kids shouldn’t watch too much TV and I totally agree. Too much TV isn’t a good thing. That being said, there are some educational kids shows I’m okay with my son watching as much as he wants.
Obviously, I’d prefer he do something active or enriching, but that isn’t always a possibility. There are also times where I need him to do something that’s a little more calm and relaxing and doesn’t have his little body and mind firing on all cylinders.
In those moments, these educational kids shows are AMAZING.
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Why I love these shows for my son
Each of these shows offers it’s own unique type of lessons and has a focus in a different area. Because so much is covered by these shows, they really are supplemental to what I and my husband could possibly think to teach him. These shows cover so much variety and some of it is so in depth!
Some of these shows focus more on emotion, social interaction, and how to handle situations that come up. Being in a family where there are no other children, not even young cousins, there are a lot of situations that do not come up naturally in our home. If they don’t come up, we may not think to discuss them. These shows bring it up in a natural way.
Zach has learned and internalized a lot of lessons very well from these shows. Even more important is that they handle tough issues in a thoughtful, engaging manner. Some of the shows use songs to really help the lessons stick with younger kids. I don’t know about you, but I’m just not creative enough to come up with songs about all of the emotions and situations young kids have to learn about!
They also don’t cover a lot of this stuff in school or daycare. These are things that they just expect kids to know already. Zach, for example, went through a phase where he lashed out when he was angry, as many kids do. Daycare teachers looked at us to solve the problem, even though it never happened at home because there are no other kids at home! Watching the scenarios play out in shows and then discussing them was super helpful.
Several of these shows also cover various aspects of culture or nature. They open kids minds to new ideas and experiences that we may not otherwise think to show them. It plants the seed of interest for so many different things.
I also really love that these shows are not just mindless-they’re even engaging to adults. They’re entertaining and can provide talking points for conversation or ideas for activities and projects.
We use the shows topics as points of conversation. Sometimes we’ll let him play a game on the PBS kids website that lets him “experience” the topic a little more. Or we might do art, a craft project, or play a game that utilizes the topic we saw.
And of course, when kids are watching, they don’t have to be just watching. About 50% of the time he’s also engaged in some other activity like building with Legos or coloring. 9 times out of 10, if he can then find a way for the play to match what he’s watching, he’ll make that connection and do that too. See? All good things!
Ready for my list of my favorite educational kids shows?
My 6 Favorite Educational Kids Shows
Here are the six shows that are on in our house the most frequently. My son absolutely loves them and they do not drive me up the wall being on in the background.
It may come as no surprise to you, but most of these are PBS shows, with the exception of Llama Llama which is on Netflix. Many of them can also be viewed on YouTube, via DVDs purchased or borrowed from the library, or on Amazon Prime.Join Amazon Prime – Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime – Start Free Trial Now
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
This was one of the first shows we let Zach watch and it’s been a family favorite ever since. It’s basically a reincarnation of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood in cartoon form, told from the perspective of 4 year old Daniel Tiger.
This show not only teaches kids how to handle social and emotional issues, but it also helps parents learn better ways to parent. The songs are super catchy and they’ve helped both us and him navigate some more intense emotions and difficult times of frustration and anger.
Daniel Tiger does a great job of taking tough issues and simplifying them down to the root issue in one melodic sentence. This is one of the best educational kids shows out there if you’re looking for simple ways to explain complex emotions and topics to young children.
Here are some of the Daniel Tiger DVD’s with our favorite episodes!
If you really want to get a ton of the episodes (not all but quite a few of them), the Ultimate Preschool Collection contains 18 discs! More Daniel Tiger than you’ll know what to do with.
This is a super cute Netflix original that Zach latched onto right away. Based on the Llama Llama characters and books, these episodes help kids navigate similar situations to Daniel Tiger. This show seems to be a little more beneficial to kids as they begin to outgrow the sing-song methods of teaching.
It takes the simple issues that we explain to kids about sharing, kindness, and anger and expands on it a bit. They cover bullying, respect, decision making and more. Similar to Daniel Tiger, a lot can be learned from Mama Llama as well, as she helps guide Llama through the learning process.
If you prefer to have it on DVD (I do!), here a Llama Llama DVD with a bunch of episodes. Currently in pre-order until release in February, but it has way more episodes than the currently released DVDs!
Wild Kratts is a cartoon that follows two wilderness exploring, animal loving brothers and their team. Each episode starts with live action of them showing and talking about the animals that will be in the episode and it ends the same way.
This one is great to teach kids about animals and their habitats, respect for animals and the environment, conservation and lots more. Some of the other characters also add extra interest for kids.
One is an inventor who designs creature suits for the brothers to wear where they can use that animals powers and basically become the animal. Another is the technically savvy one who handles all the communication and research for the team.
Both of these characters are female and serve in predominantly male roles. It’s serves as a great example for kids to be what they want and pursue their interests. The Kratt brothers rely on these two women heavily to do pretty much all of the heavy work while they get to go play with, and rescue, animals.
My son’s favorite character is Aviva, the inventor. He thinks it’s so cool that she creates really neat things (his words). Honestly, being an inventor isn’t something that comes up a lot in kids shows and it’s given him a whole new path by seeing her work through problems and come up with solutions that save the day.
The dialog is funny, doesn’t talk down to kids, and teaches them the importance of animals and protecting our world. And each character, aside from the villains that are always trying to use nature for their own benefit, is richly developed and is relatable to kids.
Wild Kratt’s Ultimate collection contains 11 discs and is totally worth the value. It’s a little pricey but would make a great gift!
This one is no longer in production but it still plays on PBS and is available on PBS channels on other platforms as well as on DVD. We LOVE Martha.
Martha is a dog who eats alphabet soup and it makes her talk. The show is based on a book series and is just the cutest thing ever. We’ve been watching Martha just about as long as Daniel Tiger and it makes us laugh a ton.
Martha could easily be our own dog, Daisy. She’s obsessed with food, is super snuggly and loyal, and loves her family. Each episode has Martha learning along with some of the kids as they navigate situations in their life. She also learns new words in the process.
We love how Martha serves as a sort of avatar for a child who has a lot to learn. Her behavior and mentality has her asking questions endlessly to help people and figure things out, just like a young child. There are usually moral or ethical lessons in each episode such as not being arrogant, doing the right thing, and it being the thought that counts.
The Fun & Learn collection contains three discs and has a bunch of episodes we love.
Molly of Denali
This is a newer cartoon and has quickly become a favorite. This show follows Molly and her friends and family as she grows up in Alaska. Not only do we get to learn about Molly’s native culture and language, but we also get to learn about what it’s like to live in Alaska.
The overarching theme of this show seems to be knowledge. We are constantly seeing the characters research and investigate. They are always learning things from books and by asking questions and spend a lot of time learning or sharing knowledge in general. Molly herself even makes a vlog in which she shares information about life in Alaska to her viewers.
As this show focuses on native culture there’s also a lot of information about nature. There are lots of instances of how to use it and how to respect it.
Overall, Molly is a fun kid that kids can relate to. And the show is pretty humorous as well. We love watching Molly learn and explore, and we learn a ton in the process!
This one is currently too new and isn’t out on DVD yet as it’s still in it’s first season. Hopefully, in the near future we’ll be able to get copies for home.
Nature Cat is all about a house cat who leaves the house and turns into “Nature Cat” when his owners are out. He spends his day with a dog, a mouse, and a rabbit. Each episode involves learning something about a different aspect of nature.
I love that this one teaches kids about conservation and how to treat the environment. I also really love that another central component is the idea that they should get outside and BE IN nature. Nature Cat doesn’t want to be stuck inside. He wants to be out in nature, exploring, learning, and helping other creatures. I think that’s a great lesson for kids!
Nature Cat is also a little naive about a lot of things and the mouse and rabbit spend a lot of time explaining things to him, so kids that watch the show learn all the ins and outs of the topic at hand. There are always discoveries made, lessons learned, and nature explored.
The Onward & Pondward DVD contains 7 episodes.
Fun, educational kids shows? Yes, please!
It’s great to not want our kids to watch too much TV. But sometimes it’s absolutely okay. As long as it’s not mindless, useless, or actually detrimental, I don’t think there is anything wrong with it.
Most of us grew up watching way more TV than our kids now do, because our parents didn’t have “suggested guidelines” for how much TV was too much, or at what age to allow “screen time.” We all turned out just fine.
I do try to make sure that what my son watches is in some way beneficial to him and these six shows are awesome in that regard. They’ve helped him, taught him (and me to be honest) and created new interests for him! So when it comes to these educational kids shows, I’ll let him watch as much as he wants.