Digital Babysitters: Recommended TV Shows For Toddlers & Preschoolers

Oh, so you NEVER let your 3 or 4 year old watch any TV ever? Ever EVER? You’re either part of the .00001% of rare breeds of superhuman that make for perfect parents OR … your pants are on fire.

If your kid’s anything like mine, her first question EVERY single morning is, “So where are we going today?” followed by some version of, “Let’s GO, Mom! The SUN IS UP! GET UuuUUUUuUUUUP!” And, on days when you’re not chauffeuring her around all.day.long., she asks you every 5 minutes to play with/help/make/see/fix/move/do something. You know, because our child-centric living room filled with arts & crafts materials and toys that would make any indoor play place look deserted  is STILL not enough to keep her busy…………

WELL, in those moments, the TV or iPad seems like such a lifesaver.

Sometimes, you just REALLY need that 20mins of time to hide in the restroom and eat something out of your daughter’s Halloween loot of 6 months ago while you talk to Delta about the transatlantic flight you’d like to book…. or….. do things like this, right here. It’s all about finding a healthy balance for you and your kids.

The good thing is, children’s TV today is SO much better than a lot of the mindless junk it was 20 years ago.

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FAVORITE TV SHOWS

 
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 1. Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (5/5 on Common Sense Media)
I am such a HUGE fan of this show for social/emotional growth. It addresses many of the common challenges that our little ones face and, fittingly, my daughter even sings the songs whenever it’s relevant. It discusses big milestones like first days of school or new siblings and day to day challenges like feeling scared at night or trying new food. Zee would sing Grown Ups Come Back when she or kids at her previous preschool would get upset at drop off or If You Have To Go Potty when she or a friend needs to go to the restroom. Some of our other favorites include When You WaitFind a Way to Play TogetherUse Your Words, and When You Feel So Mad. Great kid music that also offers ideas for topics to discuss with kids in the car….Mom’s Rating: 5/5
Zee’s Rating: 5/5

Zee LOVED it at ages 2 & 3, at 4 prefers other shows but still wants to listen to the music in the car. May just be bored.

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Videos, YouTube, DVR

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2. Sid the Science Kid (4/5 on Common Sense Media)
This show really encourages kids to ask unique questions and seek answers through research, hands-on exploration, and focused observation. My daughter started watching it when she was around 2, and it introduced her to insightful concepts like how the fruits we buy and other things go through a process of change and eventually decay, how our lungs work, and why it’s important to brush your teeth. Jokes can be a bit lame, but my kid’s idea of a joke is saying, “Grasshoppers doing jumpingjacks!”Mom’s Rating: 5/5
Zee’s Rating: 5/5

Zee LOVED it at ages 2 & 3, at 4 prefers other shows but still wants to listen to the music in the car. May just be bored

Where to Watch: Netflix

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3. Team Umizoomi (4/5 on Common Sense Media)
This show is pretty great for it’s implementation of early math concepts including counting, shapes, patterns, and measurements. I had the song, “Dodecahedron” stuck in my head for weeks when we first watched that episode. Oh, GREAT. It’s back. Eeaaaaarrrrwoooorrrmmmmm.Mom’s Rating: 4/5
Zee’s Rating: 4.5/5

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Videos

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4. Super WHY! (4/5 on Common Sense Media)
This show takes (sometimes odd or irrelevant) situations that children might encounter (not wanting to share) and finds answers through popular fairy tales and children’s stories. Children are given the opportunity to change the course of the story by replacing words while, in the process, slowly learning to recognize letters/words.Mom’s Rating: 4/5
Zee’s Rating: 4.5/5

Where to Watch: Netflix

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5. Peg + Cat (5/5 on Common Sense Media)
This show instills an early love for math. One major gripe I have about this show is Peg’s tendency to say, “I am totally freaking out!” What a little drama queen. My daughter picked that one up early, too. *eyeroll* Also, there is an episode about Peg’s alien friend coming from a planet without toilets and having accidents all over someone’s house. So they taught him how to use a toilet, because otherwise they’d have to leave. Some parents may disagree with the potential association between accidents and shame, but my daughter wasn’t really affected by it, as evidenced by the many times Lysol wipes and vinegar were used for cleaning up the floor after watching this episode at least five times at her request.Mom’s Rating: 3.5/5
Zee’s Rating: 4/5

Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Videos

OTHER NOTABLE MENTIONS
– Yo Gabba Gabba
– Tumble Leaf
– Little Einsteins
– Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
– Doc McStuffins

SHOWS I LIKED > SHE LIKED
– Bubble Guppies
– Octonauts

SHOWS SHE LIKED > I LIKED
– Shimmer and Shine
– Sofia the First
– Backyardigans
– Elena of Avalor
– Dora and Friends
– Dora the Explorer
– Peppa Pig

Interview Questions for Parents to Ask Prospective Preschools

Last summer, we were considering moving to Jakarta, Indonesia. Part of the decision making process involved a hunt for preschools. Here is a self-created list of questions that personally helped me determine which schools were a better fit for us than others.

Please feel free to use this as a guide while touring prospective preschools and do let me know if there are any additional questions you think should be added to this list. If you’re wondering why I asked some of these, feel free to comment or shoot me an e-mail. Thanks for reading and please do take the time to subscribe if you’d like to see more posts like this.

Happy touring!

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PHILOSOPHY

What is the school’s teaching philosophy?

When was it established? Is it a franchise?

Who designs or determines their curriculum?

What is their teaching method? Is it mostly directed? Do the kids have any opportunity for free play?

Do they use worksheets? At what age do they give the kids homework?

How do they track the children’s progress? Will parents be able to see this?

How do they handle children who have a hard time following instructions or listening?

Do they have a transition plan for children who may have a rough time adjusting?

How do they handle children who might bite or hit another child? Are the parents notified? Do they have a logbook to keep track of this type of thing?

TEACHERS

What is the student to teacher ratio? How many students are in a classroom?

Are all the adults in the classroom typically teachers or do they have nannies/helpers?

How long have the teachers been there? Do they sign a contract to ensure that they don’t leave before the end of the school year?

Are there parent teacher conferences? Are the teachers available for discussions about the child’s individual progress or potential struggles?

What is the criteria to becoming a teacher at the school? Do they have to have a degree in early childhood development or education or are they trained in house?

Do they have specialist teachers or visiting teachers for subjects like Mandarin, Music, or Dance?

FACILITIES

Do they have a playground?

Do they have a library or any other special rooms or facilities that set them apart from other preschools?

How many restrooms are there? How far is the restroom from the classroom? Do they have large toilets or small toilets? Are the children accompanied to the restroom by an adult?

Is there a waiting area for parents or nannies?

What sort of learning materials do they use? Do they have a wide variety of play based learning tools for children in the classrooms?

Do they own the building or rent?

Do the children have access to screen time while at school?

FOOD, HEALTH, & EXTRAS

Do they provide snack and lunch or do the parents have to pack a daily lunch?

If it’s provided by the school, what does the menu look like? Is it nutritious? Do they accommodate dietary restrictions and/or allergies?

Do they teach a second language? Which? Are they taught by native speakers?

Do they offer extracurricular activities? Which? Are they included in the cost of tuition?

Are all the teachers certified in CPR and/or First Aid? Is there an in-house nurse?

What is their policy for sick kids? Do they check the children’s temperature prior to coming in?

Do the kids take field trips? Where to? Are they included in the price? What type of transportation do they use? Are parents or nannies expected to and/or allowed to join?

What is their protocol in case of a medical emergency? Do they always have a vehicle and driver ready to transport any children to the hospital? Who accompanies the child(ren)? Which hospital do they take the children to?

SECURITY

What is their sign in/sign out policy? Are parents and/or nannies given a badge and is there some method to ID the person who picks up the child?

What happens if nobody who is on the previously approved list is able to pick up the child?

Where do children wait when parents or nannies are late for pick up? Who stays with them?

Are drop offs and pick ups inside a secure and gated area?

Are there security guards? How/where were they trained?

Are there CCTVs inside and outside of the school? Are there CCTVs near/around restrooms?

Is the parking lot private or shared?

Do they have a plan set in place for bomb threats, abduction, intruders?

Do they hold fire and earthquake drills with the children? How frequently?

EXTRAS

Are children able to try out at the school? For how long? Will parents be allowed to observe?

Do they expect all children to be potty trained? If not, who changes diapers and where?

Are parents expected to sign a contract that commits their children to the school for a period of time? How much advance notice do they need prior to withdrawal?

Do they have a part time program or do all children have to attend 5 days a week? Do they provide any options for after care?

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COMING SOON

I will be posting a downloadable comparison table to show the key differences between the schools that my then 3-year-old daughter tried out at while in Jakarta. The list of these schools include Bambino Cipete, Discovery Menteng, EtonHouse, HighScope Simatupang, HighScope Kelapa Gading, Jakarta World Academy, Leap Schoolhouse, Mighty Minds Hang Tuah, and Royal Tots Academy. In the meantime, if you have any specific questions about any of the above preschools, feel free to contact me!