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What are Some Educational Television Shows for Children?

By Nychole Price
Updated Jan 24, 2024
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Children love to watch TV, and occasionally parents like it too, as it gives them a moment of quiet. Unfortunately, not all children's TV programs are created equal. Some children's television programs do more harm than good, especially if the program has violence, inappropriate language, nudity or sexual innuendo. There are educational television programs available to children that will make their time watching TV more productive. They include Sesame Street, Barney, Bill Nye the Science Guy, and several others.

Sesame Street is a popular educational television program that first aired in 1969. The idea behind the creation of Sesame Street was to provide children of all socio-economic backgrounds an equal chance at obtaining a pre-school education. At this time, over 97 percent of households in the United States had a television set, which allowed Sesame Street to reach a majority of children. Sesame Street teaches children concepts such as numbers, letters, colors, thinking, science, music, art, culture and getting along with others. There have been occasions where this children's program has explained deeper concepts, such as the death of Mr. Hooper, which was aired with proper planning and parental notification beforehand.

Barney and Friends is an educational television program, created by Sheryl Leach, that is geared towards toddlers and preschool age children. Barney is a six foot (182.88 cm) tall, purple Tyrannosaurus Rex, who is often seen with his friends Baby Bop and BJ. Barney teaches children about sharing, caring, using their imagination and other trials children may face, such as moving. This is done through singing and dancing, making it very effective in conveying the message to young children. There is a small focus on numbers and letters, though a majority of the shows are focused more on a young child's emotional development.

Bill Nye, the Science Guy, is an educational television program that was first released in 1993. This television program is geared towards a preteen audience and utilizes humor, fast paced action and hip-hop songs to teach science topics. One hundred episodes of Bill Nye, the Science Guy were produced and still air regularly on stations such as PBS. The programs topics include buoyancy, gravity, digestion and magnetism.

Educational television programs are growing in popularity, mainly due to the fact that young children are spending more time watching television. These types of programs are usually found on PBS, but can also be watched on Nickelodeon, Disney, and Sprout. Although, these TV shows are beneficial to children, the amount of time kids spend in front of the television should be limited to two, or less, hours per day.

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Discussion Comments

By amypollick — On Jan 16, 2012

@Sunny27: Between the Lions is a great kids' show. I love it and I'm an adult! PBS also shows Mister Rogers re-runs and I highly recommend them. There's nothing like a child hearing Fred Rogers tell them in his gentle voice, "I like you, yes I do! I like you just because you're you!" Makes my day, even now.

I also love "Zaboomafoo" and "Kratts' Creatures." The Kratt Brothers do a great job of teaching nature and caring for animals on their shows. (And Mom gets to look at the brothers. They're awfully cute!)

"Angelina Ballerina" is an adorable little cartoon about a mouse ballerina and "Arthur" puts me on the floor when he has a problem with D.W., his little sister. Also, the "Thomas the Tank Engine" shows are great. These shows focus on interpersonal relations.

"The Magic School Bus" and "Reading Rainbow" are still good, and if you can find the DVDs, "Wishbone" is marvelous for introducing kids to great literature.

And, you might as well pick up the "Schoolhouse Rock" DVD. I'll bet there's hardly an adult my age who didn't learn The Preamble from singing it on "Schoolhouse Rock" on Saturday mornings. These are such great songs. They teach grammar, math, science, history and civics. I recommend them, also.

By BrickBack — On Jan 19, 2011

Bhutan-Children really should not watch much TV because it hampers their imagination, but if they have to watch TV these types of programming are best.

The History television channel is also helpful when learning about events that occurred in the past. I find that limiting TV time allows my children to easily get their homework done and even helps them pick up a book for entertainment.

If children have a lot of books around they are more likely to read for entertainment. Also keeping children’s magazines like Highlights and Ranger Rick offers them the opportunity to read other types of material.

Educational television programming is a blessing, but it should not replace traditional reading and other playing activities that are so vital to children’s academic and exercise needs that enriches a child’s life.

Sitting in front of the TV all day is partly the reason why so many children today are obese.

This is why a little outdoor play or regular exercise is also important because not only will children feel better but they will be better able to concentrate in school and sleep better at night.

By Bhutan — On Jan 18, 2011

Sunny27-The Discovery Television channel and National Geographic offer a wide variety of educational television programming.

Most of the programming is science and history related which can be a nice supplement to lessons taught in school.

Many schools use the internet version which is the United Streaming option to devise lesson plans. They also have Discovery Kids which offers shows like Magic School Bus.

This program explores concepts in science by actually having the characters experience the experiment. They discuss buoyancy and gravity along with velocity and other advanced scientific concepts in a very natural and almost conversational way.

These cartoons are really fun to watch and help kids understand difficult ideas. I know you can also buy the DVD’s to some of these episodes at Wal Mart an Office Depot.

By Sunny27 — On Jan 16, 2011

Children’s educational television programming can be found on the PBS schedule. If you go to www PBS org you will see a list of educational television programming for children of all ages.

There is Sesame Street for preschool children. This program teaches letters and number as it introduces children to other children of different cultures.

Between the Lions is another program that focuses on building phonetic awareness and actually teaches various digraphs and multisyllabic words to its viewers.

It teaches children how to sound out words and eventually read sentences.

Reading Rainbow also teaches reading but it is more of a literature based program that offers lessons on character development, main ideas and conflicts within stories.

Mathica is another educational program that discusses mathematical concepts like probability and greatest common factors. Many of these television shows can also be found with a subscription to United Streaming which is an internet educational channel that offers educational programming for children in preschool to high school.

A subscription is worthwhile because I recently logged on when we were in a hotel with my children and they were able to see educational shows on my laptop.

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