We are big into managing our kids’ screen time over here, and that’s no secret.
Though we truly value all they can learn with the help of technology, and we also know that they need a whole lot of time away from the screen to keep themselves balanced and healthy.
We also believe that kids need down-time in front of the ole television once in a while. However, we’re really careful about what we throw in front of them.
So our DVR is packed with programs that we have chosen carefully–and we continue to choose carefully.
Sure, it’s an ever-growing list, always changing with our kids’ interests and ages, but for a good 4-5 months, we stick with the same menu on the DVR.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- Our Fave Programming for 6-9 year olds: Right now, with a 9, 7, and an almost 6 year old in the house, our interests have changed a bit from where they were a few short years ago. Back then, we relied heavily on Sesame Street, SuperWHY!, Dora & Diego, Dinosaur Train, Little Einsteins, and Between the Lions.
Now, here’s our list:
- Word Girl: The whole focus here is words and word-learning. Which is why I totally heart it. And my kids love the crazy creatures and superheroes throughout. It’s big-time word-consciousness, to the max. Playing with words and learning words and celebrating words.
Sometimes, I wish they used words a little more kindly, but I may be a little hyper sensitive to those things. Where some parents don’t mind a ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’ thrown in now and again, those words make me cringe. Overall, the learning and high-interest piece outweighs that occasional (grrr!) ‘dumb’.
- Wild Kratts: Maddy, Owen, and Cora totally love the Wild Kratts right now. And I’m over the moon about it. It’s a cartoon-real actor show, and I think they really dig that format.
The Kratts are zoologist brothers who know everything there is to know about animals, so there’s definite learning in each episode. They find themselves in crazy situations, and each high-interest adventure seems to be more exciting than the next. The random–totally cool–facts that my kids can hit you with about animals I completely attribute to Wild Kratts.
I particularly love the resources available for follow-up: PBS Kids has fab Wild Kratts resources online, available to anyone and everyone that focus on animals, learning, and fun. There are a bunch of printables and videos up there, too. The Wild Kratts app is a huge fave of ours, and they just released the first Wild Kratts Creature Power app. It’s awesome, so I’m betting there will be plenty more to follow.
- Electric Company: I love this show so much, I’d marry it if I could. Seriously fun music, dancing, and cool shorts all incorporated into a meaningful storyline make this a fave of mine. Songs about words and word-building. Songs about language with a crazy techy-edge.
It’s a cool, natural next step to Sesame Street to me–and whenever my kids have it on, I’m glad. And similar to the Wild Kratts, the foll0w-up Electric Company resources on the PBS Kids are out of this world. Games, printables, videos, and shorts–all great and totally well done.
- Fetch With Ruff Ruffman: Love. This. Show.
And one of the greatest things as a parent is to find cool shows for your kids that you actually don’t mind sitting down with them and watching.
Fetch With Ruff Ruffman is part cartoon, part real-life gameshow, and ever since we saw our first episode several years ago, Maddy declared it was her dream to be one of the FETCHers and hang out with Sherya and the crew. The FETCHers go on adventures and challenges that take them to the coolest spots, learning and having a blast along the way.
They have challenges–to build a bear-proof picnic basket or to bake a wedding cake for a wedding!–and they try to meet those challenges with the help of on-the-field experts. Great show, and again, great resources for follow-up.
I even crowd-sourced my friends to see which ‘big kid’ shows they let their kids watch, and Good Luck Charlie came up again and again.
It’s a family show about families. A big family with mixed-age kids and a mom who is always trying to re-live her days in front of the camera, it’s silly and light-hearted. And though the teen characters sometimes say silly things or get flirty, it feels to me like a good show to bridge the kid- and tween- years for Maddy.
- Sofia the First: Love this show. Love it.
It’s like a mini-movie wrapped up in a 30-minute animated program for little ones. And though the age recommendation is like 3 or so (shhhh!) my Maddy and Owen both enjoy watching it-and never complain.
Sofia’s mom remarried, and Sofia lands herself in royalty, complete with step-siblings and forest friends. I love the music in this one, and I love occasional visits from familiar Disney friends. Honestly, it’s a beautiful show with beautiful messages. Yes, yes, and yes.
- Doc McStuffins: It’s on the low end age-wise, I realize that–but my Maddy and Owen will still watch this show–and willingly. It’s a super-sweet show about 6 year old Doc McStuffins who takes care of her lovies and teaches viewers about health and well-being along the way.
Cute characters and gentle storylines keep my kids coming back to this one, and I’m totally cool with it. I like especially that our main character is a female doctor because for goodness sakes it’s time.
Television. It’s tricky. It’s for some kids but not all, and one program that may work for one kid may not suit another.
Cora is still 5. But yes, she’ll be 6 next month. Don’t think I’m trying to push her little body along, forcing her to grow up too quickly, but the fact is that as many parents know, the older kids in the house tend to manage–or want to manage–the screen choices.
I’m conscious of that, believe me.
Maddy watched 30 minutes of Sesame Street while I made dinner up until the time she was 7 1/2–and I appreciated every minute of it. Though she may have complained–I’m the only first grader in the whole, wide world who has to watch Sesame Streeeeeeeeeeeet!— I was steadfast.
If you don’t want to watch it, you absolutely do not have to, I’d tell her. Go upstairs and play while I make dinner and Cora and Owen watch the show. It’s a great show–and it’s part of the reason you’re as smart as you are–because I refused to let you let you sit in front of the tv watching junk for your brain. Your choice, my friend.
I never felt bad about it. Never. Because I could–and still do–see the value in Sesame Street programming. But I did realize that when Cora hit 5 years old, she could handle the next step in programming for kids. I took a leap of faith (not a big one), asked my smart friends, did my research, and stuck with some names I could rely on: PBS and Disney.
I also lean heavily on Common Sense Media for any and all programming questions I may have. It’s incredible. And it’s there to support families. And it’s free. And there’s an app. So it’s pretty much like a dream.
And sure, we stray now and again, and the kids love an occasional Wheel of Fortune or Cupcake Wars, but for the most part? This is where we are, what we’re doing.
Any other faves? Please let me know–I’m always willing to learn!
fyi: Like I said, I rely heavily on Common Sense Media for all of my programming choices for Maddy, Owen, and Cora. Please do check them out: — and THANK YOU! to my friends at Common Sense Media! And in full disclosure, I am part of the PBSKids VIPS, but I was a longtime PBS fan well before I jumped on board as a VIP!