TV Worth Watching: Best Educational Television for Children of All Ages
Tips for Successful TV Watching
- Designate certain hours or days when TV watching is allowed.
- Record shows for time efficiency and less exposure to advertising.
- Use favorite shows as a reward, not just a time filler.
- Use babysitter TV time sparingly.
- Watch with kids whenever possible.
In our house we say TV will rot your brain. Then we watch anyway. The truth is that too much TV makes our kids dumb and lazy, no matter how educational. But there are some excellent shows if only we choose them. Here is a resource for age-appropriate material for the boob tube lovers in your house.
For the Preschool Set
PBS Kids - This is the classic. But we've come a long way from the Sesame Street days. Algthough some of the shows are incredibly annoying (ie. Teletubbies, Caillou) to you, the parent, they are wonderful for kids. And there are no commercials, so they say. But you still have to make due with those sponsorship messages.
One thing you can count on from PBS is wholesome content and reasonably appropriate grammar. How can you go wrong with the people who brought you Mr. Rogers, Zoom, and Reading Rainbow? Dragon Tales will bring back your fondest psychedelic memories. And for lonely stay-home mothers, they've even got the hot male stars of Zoboomafoo. Personally, I like Sagwa the best - because she is Amy Tan's cat.
Noggin - This little kids' network from Nickelodeon is also commercial free. Characters like Dora, Blue, and Pinky Dinky Doo are making this channel popular with pre-potty-trained television consumers. A lot of the shows on Noggin are interactive. Imagine a two-year-old telling a cartoon where the ball is hidden. It'll buy you time to take a shower for sure.
TV for School-Aged Kids and Beyond
TV can't be all bad. I know this because at my kids' school it's an integral part of the gifted and talented education program.
Planet Earth - When I was a kid the best we had was the Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kindom, which is actually alive and well on Animal Planet. But Planet Earth is more than just animals, it's land formations and weather and everything else Earth!
Myth Busters is the show you may not really want to watch but then it sucks you in because you are dying to know how it turns out. The nerd herd at Myth Busters puts all kinds of myths and urban legends to the test. For example - wearing metal jewelry increases the chance of being struck by lightening. Well, does it? They set up experiments to separate truth from myth.
How It's Made is almost always fascinating. Kids and their parents will love watching how complex it can be to make ordinary items like paper clips and pencils.
Man vs. Wild makes for excellent family viewing. Sure, it's about survival, but how much danger is he really in with the cameraman right there? We crack up when he pees on his shirt every episode. Plus we love to imitate his lovely accent.
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