Ever since TVs became a must-have item in every home, parents have worried about the effects of too much TV time on their kids. Sitting in front of the TV all day long may be enjoyable and entertaining – but is it educational for children of any age? Should kids really watch TV for hours on end? In many cases, kids’ TV shows are actually designed to be educational, informative, and filled with value.
In fact, Congress even made educational programming for children a law: The Children’s Television Act requires all U.S. broadcast stations to air at least three hours of educational kids’ programs weekly¹. But certain kids’ TV shows are more educational than others. If you’re looking to provide your kids with a good balance of learning and entertainment, some children’s series are better.
Fortunately, there are now more educational shows and series available on cable TV, streaming platforms, and even the internet. Have your kids tune into the following TV shows to learn while they watch.
Available On: PBS and YouTube TV
Ages: 3 and up²
PBS is well-known for its educational children’s TV shows, and Super Why! is one of the best. Aimed at preschoolers, Super Why! features an animated cast of superhero characters who help kids learn how to read. The show includes an interactive storybook adventure in each episode, taking young kids through books to find answers and information.
Available On: PBS
Ages: 5 and up³
Older kids might need TV shows that are a bit more complex to hold their interest – but they also need to be fun and engaging. Odd Squad, another PBS series for kids, is a perfect fit. In this show, the characters travel the world, teaching viewers how to hypothesize and tackle different math concepts. Episodes are filled with grade-school math, including addition, subtraction, and fact families.
Clifford the Big Red Dog
Available On: PBS and Amazon Prime Video
Ages: 3 and up⁴
Clifford the Big Red Dog is a TV series that’s been captivating kids for decades. Clifford, the central character and impressively large dog, and his best friend Emily Elizabeth spend each episode exploring different concepts. It might seem like the show’s episodes are all about entertainment, but Clifford actually helps kids use their imaginations, deal with social situations, and even do a little reading.
Available On: PBS
Ages: 6 and up⁵
Wild Kratts is a new version of classic Saturday morning cartoons, but this animated TV show is filled with educational value. In each episode, young viewers can follow along as Chris and Martin Kratt teach zoology concepts. They’ll learn about animal behavior, endangerment, wildlife conservation, habitats, and even adaptation in the wild as they meet many different wild animal species.
Ask the Storybots
Available On: Netflix
Ages: 3 and up⁶
TV Guide calls Ask the Storybots “Bill Nye for the preschool and elementary set.”⁷ It’s an animated series that introduces kids to science, all while answering some of their biggest questions. It’s great for curious youngsters – they’ll learn about concepts like how night happens, why we brush our teeth, where planets come from, and how people catch colds. Each episode features songs and easy-to-understand lessons.
Available On: Netflix
Ages: 7 and up⁸
Older kids might not be very interested in turning on an educational TV show. But if that show makes its learning both subtle and fun, everything could change. That’s what Brainchild aims to do. The Netflix series takes complex science concepts, like neurology and gravity, and turns them into experiments and engaging presentations. Brainchild is relatable for young teens and tweens, giving them bite-sized fun facts along with lessons filled with expert information.
Available On: Science Channel
Ages: 9 and up⁹
Mythbusters has long been a top science-based show. During its original run, the series ran from 2003 to 2018 on the Discovery Channel, and viewers of all ages tuned in to watch incredible and unique experiments that answered intriguing questions. Now, Mythbusters is coming back with a reboot that’s filled with the same educational concepts. Older children can tune in and watch new hosts run crazy science experiments, learn about the scientific approach, and engage their curiosity.
Tune in to Keep Kids Learning
If you’re worried about all of the screen time your kids are getting, you’re likely concerned they aren’t watching enough educational content. While too much TV can certainly be something to worry about, there are kid-friendly TV shows available that teach important – and exciting – concepts. From science to zoology to math to social skills, the TV programs mentioned here are only a few of the top educational shows.
To help your kids learn while having fun, turn on one of these programs. Your children will take in lessons along with the entertainment TV provides, turning screen time into learning time.