With such a wide range of programming available for children – including channels that run literally 24 hours a day on paid services – it’s hard to know which shows are good choices. Almost all of them fulfil a basic requirement of entertainment and introducing some learning concepts, but some certainly offer more value than others. A wide variety is always good, and while not every single show your child watches needs to be fully educational, it’s a nice bonus. Many are available free to air on New Zealand television, however others are a little older and you may need to go hunting on YouTube to find episodes. The true classics are worth the search, however.
- Sesame Street. One of the longest running children’s educational shows, and for good reason. Seasame Street is a combination of many different learning devices and strategies that come in a format specially designed to appeal to young viewers. Every single segment is carefully put together through extensive research and development to find the most effective balance between education and entertainment. Combined with friendly colourful puppets, it’s proven a classic for multiple generations.
- Beakman’s World. Explaining science concepts to children without completely dumbing them down can be tricky, but Professor Beakman‘s bombastic style and Brooklyn accent make them fun and easily accessible. Through a combination of animated diagrams and real-world examples utilising a guy in a lab rat suit, they directly address the questions of viewers, providing answers to the kind of things children naturally wonder.
- Arthur. While it’s important to learn about science, maths and other academic concepts, learning how to deal with people, emotions and social situations is also a crucial part of a young education. Arthur follows the day to day life of an 8 year old aardvark, and is known for dealing with issues that can be very relevant to a child’s life such as dyslexia, Asperger’s Syndrome, the death of a pet and bullying. They may not know how to find answers on these topics elsewhere, so seeing them represented in a friendly TV show is important.
Children’s learning television comes in a variety of different styles and formats, and some are more effective than others. Of course you should pay attention to their preferences, but also encourage consumption of shows of proven quality.