12 Quality TV Programs For Young Children

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Has TV gotten too bad of a rap?

With all the information and guidelines available to us about screen-time for kids, it’s easy to feel guilty about turning on the TV to have a moment to yourself. But, believe it or not, there are quality TV programs for young children!

Photo by: R. Crap Mariner

While most of the articles you will find on this subject do give a nod to the fact that “quality programming for young kids” is shown to have no detrimental effects, the majority of the articles and their corresponding studies fail to mention what they mean by “quality programming”.

And the fact is, being screen-free is a privilege many parents just don’t have. Parents use TV time for all sorts of reasons, none of which are anyone else’s business.

I have made it no secret that my kids go screen-free for weeks or even months at a time, and that I’m a proponent of not constantly engaging and entertaining children. But I admit there are circumstances wherein I just do what needs to be done for my own sanity. And for those circumstances, I rely on good TV shows for kids!

Upwards of 68% of people disregard screen-related recommendations. It’s estimated that nearly half of children have watched TV before 18 months and 77% of children 6 and over use screens in excess of the AAP recommendations.

So, if parents are going to use screens anyway, why not point them in the direction of quality TV programs for young children?

Here is a list of quality TV programs for young children

Blues Clues

This show is awesome because it is interactive. This is a very simple show. The host interacts with the audience to find clues that help the host, Steve, figure out what his dog, Blue, is trying to tell him.

Dora the Explorer

This is another show that elicits participation from the viewing audience. In addition to the problem solving aspects of Blues Clues, Dora the Explorer also introduces young children to the concept of sequencing. As an added bonus, Dora teaches Spanish to her audience, as well!

Good TV shows for kids
Photo by: Donnie Ray Jones

Sesame Street

Sesame Street has so many amazing episodes. The show has addressed breastfeeding, race, religion, socioeconomic status, death, pregnancy, and major tragedies, such as the terrorist attacks on September 11. The show focuses heavily on kindness and conflict resolution.

Mr. Rogers

My personal favorite! This man demonstrated the kindness and empathy we all wish we possessed and that we certainly hope our children will posses. He covered so many of life’s lessons through conversations with his viewing audience and guests on his show. He visited factories and bakeries to pique the curiosity of his viewing audience on all sorts of topics. He also tackled difficult subjects, like death and racism.

Little Einsteins

I am not a huge fan of Disney cartoons, but this one gets a pass from me. Not only does it demonstrate teamwork, kindness, and individuality, there is a heavy musical element to the show. Kids learn rhythm and it helps to fine tune their auditory discrimination!

Good TV shows for kids
Photo by: Josh Hallett

Nature Documentaries

Whether it’s Nova, Planet Earth (My personal favorite!), or Amazing Animals, nature documentaries are fascinating for the whole family.

From the images on the screen to the colorful language of the narrator, your child will get to experience lands, animals, and language they may otherwise never be exposed to.

Wild Kratts

The intro to this show can be off putting, especially for parents who are screen-time conscious and looking for a suitable show for their young child.

I assure you that I have watched this show myself and it is not just a cartoon. The Kratt brothers are great and exposing and explaining about the animals featured in the episode!

Reading Rainbow

“Take a look, it’s in a book”. And that is true. Books can take your child anywhere they want to go and they can imagine themselves to be anyone they want to be! Books have the ability to elicit all sorts of emotions.

This was one of my favorite shows as a child. And for my own kids, any show that encourages the love of reading and the magic of books, is a show they can watch.

Super Why!

The reason I love this show is it emphasizes the power of reading. The show is interactive, eliciting responses from the kids watching it and the major emphasis of the show is that when we want to know something, we can find the answers in books. A great show!

MORE quality TV shows for young children! (Beat Bugs is my favorite!)

Beat Bugs

This show is a big scoop of musical magic covered in awesome sauce! What I like about this show, aside from the music, is the lessons in teamwork and friendship. Each episode is entirely based on a song by the Beatles. It’s a lot of fun to watch and it’s a great way to introduce your child to some awesome music.

Beat Bugs. Good TV shows for kids

Dinosaur Train

If your child is into dinosaurs, this show is perfect for them. The show is actually pretty cool. It’s animated, but at the end of each episode the world renowned paleontologist, Dr. Scott D. Sampson comes on screen to explain in detail the show’s theme.

Daniel Tiger

Daniel Tiger is basically Mr. Rogers 2.0. The show is full of life lessons and songs to help your child deal with various situations. The lessons range from remembering to stop playing and use the potty to dealing with the fear of a doctor’s visit.

Musical Theatre

Oh, my. There are so may kids that love dance and music, but will simply not get the chance to see a ballet live or even be exposed to it on a screen!

Good TV shows for kids
Photo by: Steven Pisano

This is a type  of media that requires a lot of deductive reasoning and imagination.

Any theatre that incorporate music and dance, I would be remiss not to recommend. Children love music and they love following story lines.

As a child that was made to watch operas while visiting my grandmother, I can assure you, these performances make your child think.

Of course, it is optimal for you to sit and watch these shows with your child, so you can talk about what’s happening on the screen. This gives them language and helps their conversation skills. Besides, most young kids would be thrilled to have mom or dad snuggle up with them and take an interest in what they are learning.

You’re still a good parent with the TV on because there are good TV shows for kids

But take it easy on yourself if you just need some time to breathe without your kids breathing down your neck. Keep in mind that the majority of the harm that we hear about screen-time causing is based on what the screen-time is replacing.

So, read to your child, talk to them, show them love and affection. And if you feel like you need to put on some Super Why, go for it. Your kids will be just fine. There ARE good TV shows for kids!

I am always looking for feedback. So, speak up!


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