If your child is head over heels for streaming YouTube videos, you're far from alone. According to the most recent data from Pew Research Center, 80 percent of all parents with a child age 11 or younger said their child watches videos on YouTube, and 53 percent noted that their child does this daily. But given that there's so much questionable content out there, parents are often trying to steer their kids toward YouTube channels that are as educational as they are entertaining.
Illustration by Francesca Spatola; Getty (1)
We chatted with experts and parents alike to round up the best educational YouTube channels out there to cue up for your own kids.
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StorylineOnline started out as a children's literacy website created by SAG-AFTRA Foundation. Now, they've got their own YouTube channel, aimed at elementary school-aged kids, featuring imaginatively produced videos featuring celebrated actors like Viola Davis and Allison Janney reading children's books alongside illustrations.
"Who wouldn't want Betty White to read the all-time favorite, Harry the Dirty Dog with her signature 'Rose' voice?" says Titania Jordan, chief parenting officer of parental-control app Bark and author of Parenting in a Tech World. Kids will also gain comprehension and verbal and written skills, thanks to Storyline Online's curriculum guides that complement their educational titles.
2. Amy Poehler's Smart Girls
Amy Poehler's Smart Girls YouTube channel is aimed at middle school-aged kids. "By empowering girls through intelligence and imagination instead of fitting in, Amy Poehler's YouTube Channel gives girls the freedom to just be them," notes Jordan. "Heavier topics also include domestic violence prevention and standing up for what's right but there are plenty of science, math, and creative videos as well."
3. Khan Academy Kids
Khan Kids YouTube Channel, a part of online learning platform Khan Academy, was built to offer learning resources to both parents and kids aged 2-7. The channel features a weekly "Circle Time" video which encourages children to learn, play, and read together. They'll also have fun using the channel alongside the Khan Academy Kids App, a free app that offers standards-aligned lessons covering math, reading, writing, social-emotional learning, creative projects, and physical activities.
4. Mr. DeMaio
Meredith Bodgas, a mom of two from Bellmore, New York, says her sons love Mr. DeMaio. "He's a real teacher whose YouTube channel teaches elementary-school age kids about history, social studies, and science," says Bodgas. "He's a millennial and knows that millennial parents are watching along with their kids, so he plants '90s references for us. His videos run 10-20 minutes, but my 6-year-old stays entranced throughout and actually retains the information."
5. PBS Kids
Parents rave about the PBS Kids YouTube Channel. "There is no comparison when it comes to getting ready for kindergarten," notes Becky Bracken, a mom of one from Phoenix, Arizona. "And the emotional intelligence stuff in Daniel Tiger is second to none. And I still can't hear Elmo singing 'Bye Bye Binky' without openly weeping."
6. SciShow Kids
Ashley Austrew, a mom of two from Omaha, Nebraska, says her kids are big fans of SciShow Kids, a science-based channel, which inspires kids of all ages to do experiments, research new questions, and talk with experts.
"They have helpful explainers on a wide range of science topics like 'where does thunder come from,' 'why do we have seasons,' etc.," she says. "My kids like that we can find videos to answer all the quirky questions they have, like why bread has holes in it, and they really enjoy the little cartoon elements and visuals that make complex topics accessible to them."
BrainPOP's animated, curricular content is meant to engage kids on a whole slew of subjects, from engineering to Emily Dickinson, while supporting educators and boosting achievement. For kids in K-3, there's BrainPOP Jr., and for kids in grades 4 and up, BrainPOP as well as BrainPOP Espanol.
Lauren Sweeney, a mom from Evanston, Illinois, says her son loves the content. "They do a great job of breaking down really complex—and sometimes weighty, there's a GREAT one about BLM—stuff in a way that makes sense to kids," she notes.
8. Mike Likes Science
Jordan loves the science-inspired music videos on the Mike Likes Science YouTube Channel for middle school to high school-aged kids. "Mike's catchy hip-hop tunes and rap definitely make the memory part of science and math just a little easier to navigate," she says.
9. Art for Kids Hub
Rob, a dad of four, uploads new art lessons for elementary school-aged kids to the Art for Kids Hub YouTube Channel Monday through Friday, every week. "This family-inspired art channel teaches kids how to draw just about anything with easy step-by-step instructions," notes Jordan.
10. Netflix Jr.
Mo Mulla, dad and founder of the blog Parental Questions, likes Netflix Jr. for "its catchy animated tunes," which encourage toddlers and young elementary school-aged children to sing, play, and learn everything from their numbers, colors, animals, time, ABCs, and more.
For kids in grades K-12, Ted-Ed is an invalauble, engaging resource. "We love this channel, because it infuses life lessons and social action into creative stories," explains Jordan. "The collaboration between creative animators and educators teaches kids about the importance of getting involved in your community, knowing what's going on in the news, in science, in the arts. There's a reason this channel has 13.8M subscribers."