THE subject of screen time can be an area of worry for parents, but programmes that expand your little one’s minds can reduce any feelings of guilt or anxiety.
A lot is said about the damaging effect of too much television, but more and more programmes offer real educational value to young children.
Psychologist and mum-of-two, Emma Kenny says: “There is a plethora now of singing, dancing and educational programmes– they’re the things that your children will be transfixed by.
“They’re a developmental opportunity as opposed to just wasting time and being sedentary, so parents can feel less guilty about that kind of exposure.”
Sophie Giles, parenting and behavioural consultant and founder of the Gentle Start Family Consultancy, seconds this – and has advice on how parents can identify the most beneficial shows for their kid.
She says: “The reality is that sometimes you have to use TV to give your child some downtime but also so you can get something done, so you need to know that what you’re leaving them in front of is safe viewing.
“When you’re checking the description of an episode, it should be clear what that episode is about and the educational value in that episode.”
The experts both agree that the long-running American series, Sesame Street, still leads the way when it comes to boosting your youngster’s brain.
The Top 7 TV shows to boost your child’s development
- Sesame Street – Watch on Prime Video
- Ask The StoryBots – Watch on Netflix
- Octonauts – Watch on BBC channel CBeebie
- NumberJacks – Watch on BBC channel CBeebie
- Word Party – Watch on Netflix
- Go Jetters – Watch on BBC channel CBeebie
- Sharkdog – Watch on Netflix
“There’s just no comparison,” says Sophie.
“It tackles really important subjects like single parenting, racism, autism and all that kind of thing.
“It’s got an autistic character now.
“It’s more forward-thinking than anything we’ve got in the UK.”
Sesame Street is not always available to stream in the UK but the app has videos and games designed to teach your child school readiness skills and help kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.
There’s also always the old school option of buying it on DVD!
Another top contender according to the experts is the ‘amazing, engaging and interactive’ series Ask The StoryBots.
“We’re only just discovering it in this country, but I think it’s going to be the next big thing for the 4-6 age bracket,” says Sophie.
“There are episodes on, ‘Why do we have to brush our teeth?’, ‘What happens when we flush the toilet?’ and, ‘Where does chocolate come from?’ – all the kinds of common things that children ask but presented in a really entertaining format.”
CBeebies’ Octonauts also makes the list for its teachings on marine life, teamwork and the environment.
Numberjacks is a top choice for parents who want to encourage their child’s maths skills in a fun and exciting way.
And for expanding little ones’ vocabulary, as well as exploring positive themes around emotional awareness, friendship, and getting along with others, Word Party (available to stream on Netflix) is another great pick.
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