As any adult who has ever gone on YouTube knows, it can be the Wild West of content. When you’re not able to be fully present with your children as they watch, it can be ill-advised to turn them loose on YouTube. However, there is some really good educational content out there, so choosing to fully ban YouTube would mean missing out on some great learning opportunities.
If you have a younger child who wants to watch YouTube, consider checking out YouTube Kids. Launched by Google in 2015, YouTube Kids was developed to limit content to family-friendly videos, channels, and educational clips. YouTube Kids also offers parental controls that allow you to customize your child’s experience. Parents can limit screen time, block certain videos, and more.
Whether you choose YouTube or YouTube Kids to explore with your child, activate the parental controls on your child’s device, make a plan to watch together, or at least check in on your child from time to time, and then let the learning begin!
These YouTube channels excel at making learning exciting and fun:
- Crash Course Kids
This bi-weekly show is all about science. Earth, habitats, space, chemical reactions, engineering, and more are covered in new videos uploaded every Tuesday and Thursday. Delivered in an entertaining and engaging style, budding scientists will devour these interesting lessons.
Created by the nonprofit responsible for TED Talks, the TED-Ed video library offers a wide range of educational videos, each typically around five minutes long. With a mission of “spreading great ideas,” many of TED-Ed’s videos represent collaborations between talented educators and animators that were nominated through TED-Ed’s website.
- The Spangler Effect
Steve Spangler finds creative ways to make science fun by turning ordinary household objects into science experiments, resulting in unforgettable learning experiences. What child wouldn’t want to make a rocket out of a squeeze bottle? You can do that and so much more with the Spangler Effect channel!
- PBS EONS
EONS explores the history of life on Earth, from the “Age of the Dinosaurs,” up to the end of the most recent Ice Age. Kids and adults alike will be astonished by humans’ fascinating collective history.
- Houston Zoo
If you have an animal lover, this is the perfect YouTube channel for you! Kids are taken on a behind-the-scenes tour of the animals and can meet the keepers that care for them. Whether it’s learning what bats eat for breakfast, or watching how a rhino gets her bath, kids will love seeing the Houston Zoo animals in action!
- Smart Girls
Created by Amy Poehler, the Smart Girls YouTube channel declares, “We emphasize intelligence and imagination over ‘fitting in.’ We celebrate curiosity over gossip. We want you to truly be your weird and wonderful selves!” Smart Girls offers DIYs that kids gravitate towards, but also includes videos about social issues, as well as interesting profiles of inspiring women.
- The Brain Scoop
“Chief Curiosity Correspondent,” Emily Graslie, of The Field Museum in Chicago introduces kids to the operations of the museum by taking them on a journey into natural history. Employing entertaining interviews with scientists, tours of collections, and hands-on teaching, Graslie’s approachable style and subtle humor make learning how a museum ticks exciting and fun.
PBS is a great source for quality children’s programming, and its WordWorldPBS YouTube channel is no exception. The animated, animal-themed content is perfect for the preschool set, who can “watch words come alive,” while they learn letters and early literacy concepts.
- Sesame Street
Sesame Street’s YouTube channel contains all of a preschooler’s beloved characters. Offering both bite-sized videos, as well as full episodes, there are options for any attention span. Videos are broken into the categories of songs, shorts, storytime, episodes, and parent moments.
Mya Reyes is a young girl whose YouTube channel has become popular for its hands-on project tutorials, fun educational tricks, and cute crafts. Mya’s simple instructions and fun delivery-style make her ideas inspiring and easy to follow.
- Red Ted Art
Stuck at home and feeling crafty? This channel offers easy-to-follow arts and crafts ideas for all age groups. The crafts typically call for common household items, like paper towel tubes, meaning you rarely have to purchase supplies and you can get started right away!
- Jack Hartmann Kids Music Channel
Have an auditory learner who responds well to learning through music? This might just be the channel for you! Jack Hartmann has produced over 45 albums for children with more than 1,000 catchy songs for kids. Hartmann’s songs and educational videos will help your child learn concepts such as counting, reading and language skills, science, dance, and movement.
Alison Bogle is an Austin-based freelance writer and mom of three.