Big reveal! I let my kid watch TV. In doing so I can sometimes use the bathroom alone, I can get his teeth brushed (which is important for all kids, but especially for people who aspirate), and we can make it through medical appointments.
My criteria for shows include:
- minimal time spent on interpersonal conflict — if a show spends 13 minutes showing bullying/bad behavior, and the last 2 minutes show the resolution, then the bad behavior is what little kids remember.
- no being mean
- educational or somewhat educational
- not loud or flashy, no jarring transitions
- not scary
- does not depict actions incongruent with our values — e.g., not Masterchef Junior because I don’t like that they depict wasting food when they pour it from the ceiling
Here are the shows we like, and I’ve tried to include a direct link to the show if I can! Amazon Prime Videos are a perk of Amazon Prime membership. If you’re not already an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can get a 30-day trial here. If you receive EBT benefits, you can get a discounted membership.
Peg + Cat (PBS Kids, Amazon Prime Video)
Solving problems with math. The songs are actually good, and my kid now knows a lot of shapes. There’s a Channukah episode that focuses on dimensions and making a 2D surface into a 3D object and vice versa! There’s an Eid episode too, which is pretty rare.
Creative Galaxy (Amazon Prime Video)
Solving problems with art. This one looked a little low budget when we first started watching but it’s actually pretty sweet and covers a lot of styles of art, including painting, drawing, sculpting, tie dye, sewing, etc.
There are some overtly religious episodes including Easter and Christmas, though the Valentine’s Day episode is “heart day.”
Tumbleleaf (Amazon Prime Video)
Solving problems in general! Very sweet and beautifully animated. I wish that the male lead (Fig) wasn’t always the problem solver with the female (Maple) in support.
Martha Speaks (PBS Kids, Amazon Prime Video)
Martha is a dog who eats some alphabet soup and gains the ability to speak! Show is vocabulary-focused and is genuinely entertaining.
Dinosaur Train (Amazon Prime Video)
Highly educational, covering dinosaurs, eras in time (I didn’t know there were so many!), hypotheses and testing hypotheses, and has a catchy theme song. Some elements of family/adoption.
It’s the Magic Schoolbus of your youth! Or your younger sibling’s youth! But now slightly more crisply animated, slightly more diverse, and includes topics related to climate change! I like that these are longer shows that really explore science topics in depth.
Sid the Science Kid (Netflix)
Strongly educational show about Sid and his very small class in a school that doesn’t have any other classes or kids. Good problem solving using discrete science concepts, like using simple machines and levers to bring stuff to the top of the play structure.
Puffin Rock (Netflix)
Very sweet, beautifully animated show narrated by Chris O’Dowd about a puffin and her baby brother. She is kind to her brother and includes him. The only scariness (scary music, scary visuals) is around the seagulls.
Sarah and Duck (Netflix)
Very sweet, very slow British show about a girl and her duck. The narrator moves the story along. Genuinely enjoyable but gentle enough for really young kids.
Goldie and Bear (Netflix)
Cute mash-up of all the fairy tale characters. Some interpersonal conflict but quickly resolved. This is my kid’s first exposure to most of the fairy tales, which I think will end up being pretty confusing, but oh well.
Other shows on my list as non-terrible, but that we haven’t watched much. When we do, I’ll fill in reviews!
Super Why (Netflix)
Bill Nye (Netflix)