8 Best Educational Shows for Kids of All Ages

Whether you're watching Netflix or PBS, there are more educational kids' shows available than ever before. We asked experts to weed through popular TV shows for toddlers, preschoolers, and teens so you know what's worth some screen-time.

Best kids TV shows

Composite by Michela Buttignol for Parents

From Arthur to Sesame Street, educational television programming for children is nothing new. The Carnegie Commission on Educational Television was founded more than 50 years ago, and Congress enacted The Children's Television Act in 1997, which requires each U.S. broadcast television station to air at least three hours of core "programming specifically designed to serve the educational and informational needs of children" each week. This may be why countless shows bill themselves as educational.

For parents, separating the wheat from the entertainment may not always be easy. But, it's not impossible, explains Polly Conway, senior TV editor for Common Sense Media. Conway is in charge of finding out what's on TV that kids might be interested in, from Daniel Tiger to Game of Thrones, and producing reviews of each and every one of them.

The majority of educational shows streaming or on broadcast television tend to skew toward the pre-school set and focus on fundamental early learning—teaching one topic, say 2+2=4, at a time during an episode. Yet Conway points out that many shows, especially those targeted toward older kids, teach cognitive and life skills, depict culture and diversity, and include social and emotional education.

"I'm thinking of Andi Mack on Disney Channel, which is one of my favorite shows for pre-teens," says Conway. "It doesn't have STEM or math problems; it doesn't teach history; but it does teach how to be a good friend; how to deal with bullying, things like that. To me, that counts as educational." The final season of Andi Mack aired in June 2019, but select episodes can still be watched on Disney Now.

To find shows with an educational bent, Conway urges parents to look for network TV programs that offer supplementary content online. Some show's sites offer additional stories, printable coloring sheets, or episode-related math problems. She also suggests the "walled garden" approach to limiting your kid's access to only age-appropriate content on streaming services. "If you can create an account so that your kids can only see kid content, that would be amazing," says Conway.

Here are eight shows—a cross-section of educational TV in terms of STEM, history/culture, the arts, and more—for toddlers to early teens.

1. Ask the Storybots

Ask the Storybots

Courtesy of Netflix

The show follows the story of how some friendly, funny bots discover the answer to a "big question." The magazine format of this show allows for music videos, letter rhyming, songs, and field trips to different places within the episodes. Netflix, ages 3+

Read a review from Common Sense Media.

2. Julie's Greenroom

Julie's Greenroom

Courtesy of Netflix

Julie Andrews plays a performing studio owner and stars alongside original puppets from the Jim Henson Company (as well as some high-power actors) as she teaches kids all about putting on a stage show. Netflix, ages 4+

Read a review from Common Sense Media.

3. Rosie's Rules

Image from Rosie's Rules

Courtesy of PBS Kids

In addition to learning Spanish language skills and being exposed to Mexican traditions, Rosie's Rules teaches children about cultural diversity with easy-to-understand lessons. Wholesome, educational, and entertaining. PBS Kids, ages 5+

Read a review from Common Sense Media.

4. Baymax!

A still from the show 'Baymax'

Courtesy of Disney

Loveable and huggable, Baymax is more than a cute, cuddly robot. He helps people stay well. Each episode teaches children about living a healhy life. Disney+, ages 5+

Read a review from Common Sense Media.

5. Wild Kratts

Wild Kratts

Courtesy of PBS Kids

Saturday morning never had it so good. In this animated series, kids are introduced to a variety of wild animal species and learn about science concepts such as animal behavior, habitats, and adaptation in this show which is brimming with real-life zoologist brothers Chris and Martin Kratt's trademark humor and sense of adventure. PBS Kids, ages 6+

Read a review from Common Sense Media.

6. Brainchild


Courtesy of PBS Kids

This science-inspired educational series uses experiments and creative presentations to teach about concepts like the senses, neurology, marine biology, and gravity, all at a level relatable for kids—especially tweens. Netflix, ages 7+

Read a review from Common Sense Media.

7. El Deafo

Photo from the show 'El Deafo'

Courtesy of AppleTV+

According to Common Sense Media, "this beautiful three-part miniseries feels like an animated diary as the show uses audio effects to help viewers understand what the world sounds like with hearing loss. The combination of these effects and the narration helps kid viewers really feel Cece's joys and struggles." Apple TV+, ages 8+

Read a review from Common Sense Media.

8. The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder

Photo from 'The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder'

Courtesy of Disney

Relatable stories, good role models, and zany comedy made The Proud Family: Louder and Prouder a great show for tweens, teens, and young adults. Disney+, ages 10+

Read a review from Common Sense Media.

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