Watching TV for toddlers can be a slippery slope. However, if you choose wisely and balance TV time with other play-to-learn activities, there's no reason to stop your tiny tot from enjoying some quality entertainment. The trick is to begin slowly with toddler-friendly shows that are gentle, brief and packed with age-appropriate content. If you actively watch together, a little screen time every now and then can be a valuable learning experience. Therefore, co-view when possible, or ask questions about the shows after they've finished.
With a wide range of entertainment options available, it's important that you make an effort to find well-made programs that truly engage your child.
Here are our top 5 must-watch shows with your toddler:
1. Dora the Explorer's
Dora, a 7-year-old girl, and her monkey pal Boots star in this fun and exciting show. One of the most interesting aspects of the show is that it involves audience participation. They address the audience directly, taking them on exciting, educational, and interactive adventures. Where preschoolers follow a map to their destination, check their backpacks for tools, and overcome unexpected obstacles. While our beloved protagonist completes her missions and avoids encounters with Sniper the fox, children are encouraged to shout and sing along with her (and Boots) until the job is completed.
The characters are interesting and entertaining, and they encourage children to use their imagination, math, and problem-solving skills. This show adds significant value in educational terms since it holds kids’ attention and allows them to actively learn new things.
2. Doc McStuffins
Dottie aspires to be a doctor, just like her mother. By caring for her stuffed animals, the little lady is already preparing for a career in medicine. Her favorite toys, however, come to life with the help of a magical stethoscope!
As an added bonus, this show also helps children learn how to face their fears at doctor visits. The process by which Dottie diagnoses and treats her patients teaches kids critical-thinking and problem-solving skills. Each story has reassuring messages about going to the doctor, as Dottie tackles many of the kids' common fears (getting a check-up, having a shot, etc.) in a friendly way. Additionally, you can expect to pick up a few healthy living tips and tricks along the way.
It is an animated series about a cartoon dog family consisting of a mother (Chilli), father (Bandit), and their two daughters, Bluey and Bingo. Each episode follows Bluey and Bingo as they devise imaginative, silly, and frequently amusing games for their parents to enjoy.
The wonderful thing about "Bluey" is that it emphasizes the importance of pretend play in the development of a young child. The inventiveness, heartwarming messages, and laugh-out-loud adventures of this Emmy-winning show serve as a refreshing reminder of how much fun it is to be a kid.
4. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
In this show, Mickey Mouse, along with friends Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Pluto, takes preschoolers on various adventures. Each episode presents a challenge to young viewers that requires basic problem-solving and sometimes math skills to complete. They define some objectives and work towards their goal, selecting a Mouseketool as needed. The objectives are things geared towards kids like, “Oh no, this door needs the right shaped key to open it.” Children then need to identify which shape they need to use. It encourages children to think outside the box by allowing them to think of creative ways to use everyday objects.
Furthermore, "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" concludes each episode with "the hot dog dance," which is guaranteed to get the kids up and laughing in no time and get children singing along.
5. Sesame Street
Not very many television shows can claim that they have helped millions of children. But Sesame Street can. For decades, Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and the rest of the Muppet gang have been showing families how to get to Sesame Street, and they're still going strong.
The show teaches children not only how to count and read, but also about friendship, compassion, sharing, and how to manage their emotions in various situations. As the show has progressed, more diverse characters and family units have joined the cast.
Screen time can be a valuable learning experience if you watch actively together. The above shows are great examples and are relatively helpful even if you have tasks to complete (or simply need a break). You can trust that your children will be thoroughly entertained without you having to worry about what they're watching.