Relax about screen time, mama! In moderation TV can have benefits, particularly educational shows that feature math and science. Our tech learning expert weighs in.
As the global economy becomes increasingly reliant on technology, many industries including – but not limited to- imaging, design, education, manufacturing, supply chain and healthcare, as well as traditional industries like Construction, and the current buzzword Fintech (Financial Technology – Eg. Paypal), are turning to technology to increase productivity.
It makes sense that young children today are expected to pick up technology fast, and whilst most of us have the impression that this means that they will be glued to the game console for hours, or constantly poke about on their iPads, that doesn’t have to be the case.
From age 3 years and up, inquisitive little toddlers start to make more sense of the world around them, and watching television (TV) as a family becomes commonplace. Rightfully there are concerns about too much screen time affecting children’s ability to learn and interact with the real world; however, when done in moderation, educational TV shows may actually give your child a good head start.
Studies have shown that kids who watched TV for at least 3 hours a day were three months ahead of their peers, putting the benefits of such an activity above other commonly enforced important habits, such as regular meals (6 weeks ahead) or early bedtime (2 months ahead). Repetition and interactivity are key for your child to reap maximum benefits from watching, so the next time your kiddo asks to watch his favourite show for the upteenth time, be sure to pick up that remote control and let him watch it. After that, run through what was broadcast with him to reinforce the key learning points for maximum benefits, mama!
Here are our top picks for TV shows that pack lots of superpower tech punch; enabling our kids to have fun watching and learning a thing or two about Math and Science at the same time!
Who hasn’t heard of good ol’ Sesame Street? Back in 1969, the producers of Sesame Street wanted to help young children prepare for school. Originally focused on the “ABCs’ and “123s” of learning, today’s Sesame street has widened its focus to include teaching nature, math, science and engineering concepts and problem-solving to a preschool audience — with topics like how a pulley works or how to go about investigating what’s making Mr. Snuffleupagus sneeze.
The winner of seven daytime Emmy Awards, Peg + Cat is an animated math-based series for children aged 3-5 years old. Follow the adventures of a girl, Peg and her adorable sidekick, Cat as they embark on adventures, solve problems together, and learn foundational math concepts and skills. Making complex concepts such as proportion easily understood to our littlies, children get to practice their math in a fun way when watching the animation.
We love their apps as well, which encourage preschooler math whizzes to engage in creative problem solving and practice early math skills through songs and logic puzzles.
Develop your child’s “Mighty Math Powers” at Umi City with Milli, Geo and Bot, the series’ protagonists. The show’s interactive format keeps kids engaged and excited about helping the characters solve the problems they encounter. They’ll get to sharpen their math skills with exercises ranging from counting, shapes and patterns to measurement and even geometry, all at a level that is easy for a pre-schooler to grasp.
For deeper understanding and practice, get the Pre-school Math kits (3 types) that further boost your child’s hands-on experience with a storybook, math activity book and math mission cards related to the episodes.
Nina & the Neurons
Nominated as the “Best Children’s programme” by BAFTA Scotland, Nina & the Neurons helps 4-6 year olds understand basic science. Nina is a neuroscientist who works with her 5 neurons that represent the different senses (Touch, Hearing, Sight, Smell and Taste).
With 11 series launched so far, Nina introduces kids to multiple facets of science ranging from robotics in the “Go Engineering” series, to coding in the “Go Digital” series.
Ages 7 – 10 (& up!)
Protect Motherboard from the Evil hacker with Jackie, Matt and Inez, three kids from earth who are pulled into a digital universe. Using math in application with problem-solving skills, environment and weather, they are able to prevent Hacker from causing harm to Motherboard, the ruler of Cyberspace in this show which expounds on the typical Good vs Evil in cartoons to teach kids math.
We love the ‘Cyberchase for Real’ 5-minute ending segment which showcases young people who deal with mathematical puzzles and problems in everyday life.
Featured by Forbes as the show that “Combines Madness, Math And Minors Perfectly”, Odd Squad combines strong characters, great effects and gadgets with humour.
A live-action series produced by The Fred Rogers Company and Sinking Ship Entertainment to help kids 5-8 years old build math, problem-solving and collaboration skills, it revolves around two young agents, Olive and Otto, who are part of Odd Squad, an agency whose mission is to investigate unusual occurrences. A math concept is embedded in each of their cases, as Olive and Otto work together to problem-solve and set things right.
With more than 70 million streams in one month alone, this is a must-see program for both mummies and kids!
Winner of the Peabody award in 2007, Design Squad aims to attract middle and high-school children to design and understand machines better.
Follow the hosts, who are real-life engineers, as they guide high-schoolers in tackling Engineering projects for real clients. Boys and girls will relish the multiple challenges featured, ranging from converting kiddie toys into motorized dragsters to building a pump to deliver water to 11-foot tall water slide.
Xploration Outer Space
Host Emily Calandrelli, Harvard scholar and former Nasa employee, takes viewers on incredible journeys through space. Targeting teenagers between 13-16 years of age, this series exposes kids to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts as they relate to space discovery.
Kids get to experience a ride inside the zero-gravity Vomit Comet and take a glimpse at the rigorous training program for astronaut hopefuls. With content that’s fascinating and fun. This show is entertaining enough that parents will want to tune in as well, making this a smart choice for curious families.