8 TV shows to help your preschooler learn

Curious George

Story highlights

  • This is a golden age of choice for preschool TV that helps kids from social-emotional learning to STEM subjects
  • These shows, like Sesame Street, are blurring the line between entertainment and education

When kids' TV shows bill themselves as educational, lots of parents take their word for it. But how many of these shows are backed by childhood-development principles, quality research, and an understanding of how kids learn best from media? Actually, quite a few. From social-emotional learning to STEM subjects, this is a golden age of choice for preschool TV. Behind the scenes, many kids' shows are providing richer screen-time experiences by the pros who know how best to reach kids.

Sesame Street is an obvious pioneer in this realm; its team of experts, researchers, and advisors helped create a show that's been a positive influence on kids for over 45 years. Friendship, counting, ABCs -- you name it, they've helped kids learn it. Great shows know how to thoughtfully embed learning into the fun, blurring the line between entertainment and education. Here are 10 shows that are following in Sesame Street's footsteps:

    Creative Galaxy, Amazon Prime, 3+

    Friendly alien Arty loves to think outside the box when solving problems, and his solutions always involve art. Along with his magical pal Epiphany, Arty travels all around his universe to discover more about the arts and how people use their own creativity.
    Behind the scenes: Visually appealing and packed with great messages about relationships and caring for others -- with simple art-history lessons thrown in for good measure -- this fun series is sure to inspire your preschooler's own creativity. Creator Angela Santomero (who developed Blue's Clues) also believes that encouraging kids to participate in Arty's artistic solutions is key: "We break the fourth wall so kids can be part of the action and propel the story line forward. This also ensures that kids are not just absorbing our material but practicing by participating and making along with us."

    Curious George, PBS Kids, 3+

    Sweet animation plus live-action segments add up to lots of fun monkey adventures. George, kindly guided by the Man with the Yellow Hat, sets off each day to learn about something new -- but things don't always go quite right.
    Behind the scenes: We'll state the obvious: This show promotes curiosity in preschoolers, but that's not its only stellar quality. A 2012 study demonstrated that kids who watched and read about Curious George "demonstrated significantly better knowledge of measurement, hibernation, colors, weather, buoyancy, sound, sorting, and plant life than children who did not."