The Top 8 Educational Programs for Children of All Ages

In today’s digital age, there are more educational programs for children of all ages than ever before, whether you watch Netflix or PBS. We asked experts to sift through popular television programs for toddlers, preschoolers, and adolescents so that you know which instructional children’s shows are worth watching.

From Arthur to Sesame Street, children’s educational television programming is familiar. The Carnegie Commission on Educational Television was established more than fifty years ago, and in 1997, Congress enacted The Children’s Television Act, which requires each U.S. broadcast television station to air at least three hours per week of “programming designed specifically to serve the educational and informational needs of children.” This may be the reason why so many shows market themselves as instructive.

It may be challenging for parents to discern between educational and entertaining content. Yet, it is not impossible, according to Polly Conway, senior TV editor at Common Sense Media. Conway is responsible for determining whether children’s television programs, from Daniel Tiger to Game of Thrones, warrant reviews and writing them.

The bulk of instructional shows available via streaming or broadcast television is geared toward preschoolers and emphasize essential early learning, such as teaching one topic, such as 2+2=4, per episode. Conway notes, however, that many television programs, particularly those aimed at older children, educate cognitive and life skills, reflect culture and variety, and incorporate social and emotional education.

Conway says, “I’m thinking of Andi Mack on Disney Channel, which is one of my favorite pre-teen shows.” “It does not contain Science or math problems, nor does it teach history, but it does teach how to be a good friend and deal with bullying and similar topics. I consider this to be educational.” Andi Mack’s final season premiered in June 2019, although select episodes are still available on Disney Now.

Conway advises parents to seek out network television programs with supplemental web content in order to locate instructive programs. Several show websites have supplementary stories, printable coloring pages, and arithmetic challenges connected to the episodes. She also recommends the “walled garden” method for restricting your child’s access to age-appropriate streaming content. “It would be fantastic if you could create an account so that your children could only view kid-friendly content,” adds Conway.

Here are eight shows for toddlers to early adolescents that represent a cross-section of STEM, history/culture, the arts, and more instructional television.

1. Ask the Storybots

The show tells the tale of how a group of affable and humorous robots discovers the answer to a “great question.” This show’s magazine-style format allows for music videos, letter-rhyming, songs, and different field trips inside each episode. Netflix, ages 3+

2. Julie’s Greenroom

Julie Andrews plays a performing studio owner and teaches children about putting on a stage performance alongside original Jim Henson Company puppets and high-powered actors. Netflix, ages 4+

3. Rosie’s Rules

In addition to teaching children the Spanish language and exposing them to Mexican traditions, Rosie’s Rules teaches them about cultural diversity through simple lessons. Beneficial, instructive, and fun. PBS Kids, 5 and older

4. Baymax!

Baymax is more than a cute, cuddly robot; he is also lovable and huggable. He helps individuals remain healthy. Each episode educates children on how to live a healthy lifestyle. Disney+, aged 5 and up

5. Wild Kratts

Saturday morning has never been so enjoyable. In this animated series, children are introduced to a range of wild animal species and learn about science themes such as animal behavior, ecosystems, and adaptation. The show is filled with the typical comedy and spirit of adventure of real-life zoologist brothers Chris and Martin Kratt. PBS Kids aged 6+

6. Brainchild

This science-inspired instructional series employs experiments and innovative presentations to teach about concepts such as the senses, neurology, marine biology, and gravity on a level that is accessible to children, particularly preteens. Netflix, ages 7+

7. El Deafo

Common Sense Media reports that “This three-part miniseries combines audio effects to help viewers comprehend what the world sounds like with hearing loss, creating the impression of an animated journal. The combination of these effects and the story enables young viewers to experience Cece’s happiness and suffering.” Apple TV+, 8 and older

8. The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder

The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder was a terrific show for preteens, teenagers, and young adults because of its relatable stories, positive role models, and crazy humor. Disney+, 10 and older.

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