March 23, 2018

5 Awesome Podcasts for Kids: A Mom’s Smart Alternative to Screen Time

​As a mom to three rambunctious kids, I know all too well how precious the quiet moments are.  Not the moments that are *too* quiet, where they are experimenting and learning in ways that destroy my home, but the quiet moments when I manage to get them all to agree on a movie, and they are all seated quietly in the same room (not destroying anything). When we purchased our minivan two years ago, I swore that the built in DVD player would get no air time, unless we were on a road trip to see relatives. Alas, a 2-year-old that shrieked like a banshee every time he was put in his car seat lowered my resolve. Veggie Tales quickly became my saving grace.

I was in denial over the amount of screen time my children had, but discovered just how bad it had gotten when I had to drive one of my children to an appointment, which was two hours away. We got into the more economical vehicle (save gas!), when my 6-year-old realized that there was no DVD player in ​the car! The snacks, games, and books I had packed only distracted him for about the first 45 minutes, and then the complaining started. I racked my brain for a solution, when I suddenly remembered podcasts, my personal go-to solution for car rides.  

Surely, if there was something for me, there had to be something for him. 

That’s when my kid friendly podcast list was born. Here’s my family's list of our favorite podcasts, and when to listen! 

1. “What If World” by Mr. Eric – Great for a car ride!
We make frequent trips to the Children’s Hospital, which is a long drive for us. My son always asks to listen to “What If World” in the car. This podcast is fun, as kids call in with their silly questions (i.e.: What if I was raised by dragons?) and Mr. Eric (the host) tells a fun and silly story, based on characters that exist in “What If World”. Many of the characters are reoccurring, so the kids get to know and love them. Added bonus: There’s always a good moral to the story!

2. “Ear Snacks” by Andrew & Polly – Great for playtime!
I love Ear Snacks because it’s fun and engaging for younger kids. Andrew and Polly are the hosts, and their goal is to help kids question the world around them - How did that get there, how can we improve on it, what purpose does it serve? Their show is a mix of fun songs, conversations with kids, and dialogue with the hosts. Aimed at preschoolers, Ear Snacks is really effective for free play time, where kids can listen while also being engaged in other activities.

3. “The Past and The Curious” by Mick Sullivan – Great for family road trips!
This is a family friendly podcast, one that everyone in the family will enjoy. Mick Sullivan focuses on the past, but provides the fun and interesting details that are often left out of the history books. This podcast features two educational and entertaining historical stories, trivia, and music. These half hour episodes provide great conversation starters for the whole family.  My favorite episode so far is Episode 2: Barnum, Barnvard, Paper Moon and more!

4. “But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids” by Vermont Public Radio – Great anytime!
Every child has the why stage, and this podcast anticipates that need. No longer do you have to stop ad google your explanation (it’s ok, we all do it), or roll your eyes while proclaiming “JUST BECAUSE!” Now, you can direct them to this podcast (or just head them off at the pass and use it as a preemptive measure).  “But Why” answers questions like: What are Olympic medals made of? Why is money so important? Why do leaves change color in the fall? Why are there so many different languages? In addition to answering these types of questions, they also tackle questions about death, violence in the media, and other difficult issues that our children have to face.

5. “Sweet Stella’s Guided Meditations” by Shannon
– Perfect for bedtime
This last one is not specifically designed for kids, but she has several episodes dedicated to kids. My favorite is called Meditation for Kids - it offers a Peter Pan inspired meditation. The kids love doing this at bedtime, it calms their minds and bodies, and is something they enjoy doing together. At the end of one of these kid friendly sessions, my babies are relaxed and ready for bed!

Podcasts are a great tool for parents, especially for children that don’t like to be alone. With a podcast on in the playroom my kids are more likely to stay and play, and less likely to drag their toys around after me. These podcasts are also educational, so I don’t feel bad when they listen. Some kids are active learners, they need to be moving for information to stick, podcasts give them the opportunity to play and be active while they listen, and may help them retain more information. A bonus to listening to podcasts in the car is that my kids are looking out the window, instead of at the screen, and they are starting to actually see the world around them.

Podcasts give our kids the opportunity to use their imaginations, be creative, and learn something about the world, and that’s a pretty awesome win.

​About the Author

​Katie is a​ stay-at-home mom of three young children and a renaissance woman at heart. Always learning something new, from Arabic linguistics to early childhood education, Katie ​loves exploring the world around her and taking everyone she knows on incredible adventures. Sweet and smart, she is a talented writer, veteran, and military wife.

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