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This is post #4 in a blog series entitled At-home preschool resources for the very tired, non-creative, really busy mom. You can view all of the posts in the series here. This post is about educational TV shows for preschoolers!
It’s no secret that my son watches a lot of TV. It has been one of my biggest concerns about his development and a huge guilt-stressor for me. But the older he gets the more I can see that it has been necessary for me as his mom (considering my health problems) and helping fill the gaps in entertaining him as he struggles with being alone and playing independently.
I firmly believe that Ezra is totally okay, even though he watches more than the recommended amount of TV. I also believe that Netflix is the best $8.99 we spend each month, hands down.
While Ezra doesn’t always watch educational shows, I would say that the bulk of what he watches and has watched over the course of his lifetime has been educational.
I wrote this post four years ago and now have another preschooler on my hands. One thing I’ve learned about kid’s shows is that they are often hopping from one streaming service to another. Things that were available on Netflix a few years ago are now on Amazon Prime, and vice versa! So keep in mind while looking for kids shows that there’s GREAT shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and more – you just have to look! If you can’t pay for a streaming services, there is a plethora of educational TV shows on YouTube as well!
1. Baby Einstein
When he was about one, I picked up a Baby Einstein’s DVD (Numbers Nursery) at a consignment store for $3.99 and he absolutely loved it. I was so impressed by it. The music and voices were soft, the content not overly stimulating and completely educational and fun.
From there, my mom and I went in together and purchased the complete Baby Einstein’s Collection and split it between our homes. The 26 DVDs cover colors, shapes, numbers, letters, music, transportation, sign language, animals, anatomy, and so much more. I LOVE Baby Einstein and highly recommend all of them, especially for young toddlers (although my son still enjoys them at almost four).
2. Baby Genius
Similar to Baby Einstein is the Baby Genius line. They cover the same concepts in much the same style. I personally like Baby Einstein better, but we have some of both. We own the Underwater Adventures and Mozart and Friends DVDs.
3. Baby’s First Impressions
We only own one of these DVDs, which I picked up for a few dollars at Barnes and Noble, but apparently there is a whole encyclopedia of Baby’s First Impressions DVDs covering basic concepts like sounds, seasons, colors, opposites, and shapes. This predates some of the other sets I’ve mentioned and can still be found on VHS. In preparing this post, I went ahead and bought this one about food and manners and I’m excited to see if it might help with some of our dinner time frustrations!
LeapFrog is by far the most educational line of children’s DVDs. I firmly believe that LeapFrog taught Ezra the alphabet, letter sounds, phonics, and early reading skills. Yes, we still sang the alphabet and I tried to teach him these things, but most of his early phonics education came from these DVDs. We don’t own any other LeapFrog products – just have watched the shows on Netflix. So, if you want your child to learn reading skills but don’t have the time or the energy to sit down and teach phonics, these DVDs are for you! The LeapFrog shows also teach synonyms, opposites, shapes, sizes, and other preschool skills.
5. Little Einsteins
If you have a child who loves music, singing, dance, and instruments – he or she will LOVE Little Einsteins (in our house, affectionately and simply known as “Rocket”). This spinoff show of Baby Einsteins continues to build on classical music concepts and teachings the basics of music, including tempo, dynamics, conducting, recognizing motiffs and instruments, and watching notes go up and down. It’s also action packed with fast flying, rockets, trains, airplanes, tons of animals, and world travel! You can stream Little Einsteins on Amazon.
6. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood
I will be speaking about this later on in the series, but preschool and preschool readiness is about so much more than letters, numbers, shapes, and colors. The most important aspects of the preschool years are social developmental skills – and this is where Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has taken over as my favorite children’s show, by far.
Daniel Tiger learns skills necessary to grow up. The show discusses concepts like “keep trying, you’ll get better” (mastering hard tasks), “Try new foods cuz they might taste good,” “See what it is, you might feel better” (fear of the unknown, sounds, and shadows), “Grownups come back” (separation anxiety), going to the doctor for a checkup, daily routines, “You can take a turn, and I’ll get it back” (sharing), “When you have to go potty, stop and go right away” (potty training), and so much more. This is just in the first 20 episodes!
Each concept has a whole episode devoted to it, and the concept is put into a jingle that is repeated ad nauseum during the episode, making it very easy for both parents and children to learn and incorporate into life and parenting.
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood has helped our son master difficult “growing up” concepts and we use the jingles in parenting him almost daily. If your child is not watching this show, they are really missing out.
Not to mention the fact that it is an animated spin-off show from Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood and includes many of the older songs that you might have grown up learning. There are also appearances by King Friday, Prince Tuesday, McFeely’s delivery, and more. The show feels warm, safe, and familiar – and I love having it on in the house.
If you get the PBS kid’s channel, you can watch it on TV; it can also be found on Hulu Plus or you can find a few DVDs on Amazon.
7. Mighty Machines
If you have a boy, this show is a must-see. While not really about typical “school” concepts, they will learn a ton in this documentary style show about snow plows, excavators, dump trucks, back hoes, trains, planes, helicopters, and more. The real-life machines take on personalities and teach the child what is so special about him or herself. You can buy the DVDs on Amazon or eBay.
8. Even More Shows We Love!!!!
I hope that this gives you some ideas and great shows to help entertain your littles. Remember, your motherhood isn’t measured in the amount of TV your child watches. It’s okay to let go and have a little bit of peace in the house – especially when there are so many great shows out there that can actually help teach your child some necessary preschool concepts and life skills.
Sound off in the comments! What are your preschooler’s favorite shows?