Looking for educational kids’ shows that are calming and slow-paced? We’ve rounded up some of the best ones that you can find (including – surprise – some from our own childhood!)
Ah, screen time – can’t do with (too much of) it, can’t do without it. As parents, we understand, and are constantly advised that screen time is a big no-no for very young children. The Ministry of Health released an advisory on screen use with the following recommendations:
- For children below 18 months old: No screen use except for video calls.
- For children aged 18 months to three years old: Cap screen use at one hour a day.
- For children aged three to 12 years old: Avoid screen use during meal times and an hour before bedtime.
But keeping kids entertained isn’t easy, and sometimes the toys, plus activities we prepared for the day, aren’t to their liking. Some screen time, depending on your child’s age, is fine. The Ministry of Health did acknowledge that children can benefit from educational and recreational screen use. As long as the content is appropriate for the child’s age, level of maturity, and social-emotional / behavioural capacities. The last bit, in particular, has been a popular discussion topic among parents of late.
Ever heard of “overstimulating” kids shows?
While most kids’ shows are marketed as educational, some parents are not quite convinced that alone makes it “good” for kids. A popular debate among parenting circles centres on whether a kids show is “overstimulating” or not.
In simple terms, a show that’s “overstimulating” is one that’s too overwhelming and distracting for a child. This differs for each child based on their age group and cognitive capabilities. Elements that could make a kids’ show overstimulating include: intensity of sound effect, background music, and colour, as well as frequency of scene changes.
You could tell that your child is overstimulated based on their behaviour. Research found that children who watch fast-paced cartoons experience negative effects on their executive functioning skills (e.g. self-regulation, memory, etc.). An overstimulated child may appear ‘zombified’ and glued to the screen (sounds familiar?) while a show is playing and then display challenging behaviour (hello, tantrums) when told that TV time is up. A psychiatrist has also mentioned that overstimulation could be a precursor to addiction.
The alternative: low-stimulating kids’ shows
Some parents may opt for a complete TV detox. But going cold turkey on something isn’t always easy, even for us adults. Hence, there are parents who choose to go with a ‘gentler’ detox method – by switching their kids’ screentime content to low- or non-stimulating shows.
Unlike its counterpart, low-stimulating kids shows tend to have muted colours, with soft sound effects and calming background music. Scenes don’t change as fast (some parents noticed that certain overstimulating shows change scenes every six seconds and some even faster), there are fewer flashing colours, and characters speak in natural tones.
If you’re thinking of switching your child’s screen entertainment to something low-stimulating, we’ve got some recommendations right here (and you might even recognise some of them from your childhood!).
All the best low-stimulating kids’ shows
A delightful Netflix series about a boy and his best friend, a huge trash truck. Parents (and kids) who love it praise the educational storylines, which teach children problem-solving skills and moral values. The show currently has two seasons.
A blast from the past! This beloved TV show is based on the picture book series, Kipper the Dog, by Mick Inkpen. You’ll notice that characters speak in soft tones and that the overall show has a ‘soothing’ feel to it.
Available on: Some episodes are available on Fisher-Price’s YouTube channel.
Guess How Much I Love You
We can’t think of an animation more beautiful than this. Based on the timeless children’s book of the same name, the TV show centres on the love between parent and child in the Nutbrown Hare family.
Available on: The official YouTube channel
The Snowy Day
Another lovely piece that’s adapted from a book, The Snowy Day, is well-liked by parents for its positive message on inclusivity and diversity. With its Christmas theme, it’s a great choice when it’s the holiday season!
Available on Amazon Prime
How can we not mention this one?! Even one of our Editors is a fan. On top of its great animation quality (polished, without being overly bright and sans flashy effects), Bluey is known for its relatability among both kids and adults.
Yet another childhood favourite for a walk down memory lane while you co-watch with your little one. Little Bear animation is a mixture of retellings of the book it’s based on, as well as some original storylines.
Available on Its official YouTube channel
Sarah & Duck
You’ll notice right away that the main character, Sarah, is probably one of the most polite kids you’ve ever seen on TV. Which parent doesn’t like that? But it’s not just about good behaviour in this series; every episode features Sarah and her best friend, Duck, going on an adventure and solving problems together.
SuperSimplePlay with Caitie
Super Simple Play with Caitie is the perfect low-stimulating option for toddlers. The highly effervescent Caitie and her friends know the best way to learn is through play, so here they play all day, learning colours and numbers and exploring the world. This is where you can find trusted preschool shows Caitie’s Classroom, Sing Along With Tobee, Caitie’s Classroom Sing-Along, Super Duper Ball Pit, and more!
Available on YouTube
Mr Rogers’ Neighborhood
Do you remember this icon? Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood has been cherished across generations. The show has been a tender memory for many generations, and we’re looking back fondly. The gentle storytelling and educational elements set it apart from contemporary kids’ shows, making it a delightful experience to share this nostalgic childhood memory with your children.