Discover interesting and twaddle-free TV programs for preschool to adult that are good for homes following Charlotte Mason’s methods of education.

When your child is too sick to spend a lot of time playing, but not sick enough to sleep most of the day, what do you do? 

Randomly flip through the channels hoping something catches your eye before your kid sees something you don’t want to watch?  (“No, we are not watching Robin Hood Men in Tights, because we watched it 5 times last week and you need some nutrition in your brain…”)

Ban all TV and play endless games of Gin Rummy and Canasta, while searching for the cards that slid down between the couch cushions?

While we generally don’t watch much TV during the day, times like these I do revert to TV to keep my little one resting. 

Most TV shows, especially ones created for children, are too loud and too obnoxious. They show attitudes I don’t want my kids picking up.

There are a few, however, that we do use in moderation. Hang around for a minute while I share our favorites with you.  Keep these in your back pocket to pull out the next time the flu makes its rounds and feel like an awesome mom.  And bonus points: these either directly or indirectly support a Charlotte Mason lifestyle!

Here are 5 mom-approved TV choices for kids ages 3 to adult.

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For the Little Kids

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood 

This old standby has been around for 40 years for a reason.  Background music is minimal, there are no flashy colors or two-minute sound bites.  My 6 year old calls this “The Calm Show”.  Mr. Rogers teaches our children to handle their emotions, to be nice to each other, to make simple things for themselves, and to visit the Land of Make-Believe on a regular basis.

What’s not to love?

Little Einsteins

Flashy.  Loud.  High pitched children’s voices.  Ugh.

Normally Little Einsteins is the type of program I’d stay away from, but it’s ok in moderation.  Each episode has a composer and artist of the day, and my kids have become familiar with several pieces of classical music through the show.  (Charlotte Mason felt that we should be familiar with beautiful music and art)

Too much of this program puts my little one on edge and makes it so she has trouble going to sleep that night.  This is best watched sparingly.

Kids – and adults – of all ages

Documentaries

We love documentaries.

Particularly good for a Charlotte Mason lifestyle are those about animals or nature.  Nat Geo Wild is a favorite around our house, with cheetahs and lions being our daughter’s current obsessions.

She also loves Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter.  His enthusiasm and attention to detail are contagious, but as with Little Einstein, he can put kids on edge after too much.  He, too, is best watched in moderation.

Besides nature documentaries, there’re also history and other science documentaries.  History in particular should be screened for age-appropriateness, especially biographies.

The Farm vids

A few years ago, the BBC filmed several seasons of re-enactments that were later collectively called The Farm videos.  They consisted of a small group of experts who lived for a year in a period-correct manner, recreating what it was like to live in Victorian England, Edwardian England, and Tudor England.

My kids from 4 years old to teen/adult have all loved these.  We often let them play in the background, as quiet motivators to do handwork or other useful skills.

There are no bright colors, quickly changing subjects, or obnoxious music.  The pace is gentle and slow.

In the series are:

  • Tales of the Green Valley
  • Victorian Farm
  • Edwardian Farm
  • Wartime Farm
  • Tudor Monastery Farm

Teens

TED Talks

You can find these short or long talks on any subject your heart desires.  From an innovative method of re-grassing drought stricken land, to hearing the experience of a North Korean defector, to pushing through failure:  if you have an inkling, TED will have a talk on it.

A word of warning:  you can get lost for days in TED talks …  like when you start out watching a Youtube video of fixing the brakes on your car and 6 hours later you’re watching a kitten and giraffe become best friends.

All TED talks are informative in some way, and almost all are extremely interesting.

Where do you find these shows?

Some you can get through Netflix, a documentary website, your local library, or even Amazon.

My go-to site, however, is YouTube.  If you can stream or cast YouTube to your television, that’s ideal.  

TED talks are often on YouTube, and they are also available with a Smart TV or just through your computer.

While I don’t recommend day in and day out watching TV, when we’re sick and I use TV, I can feel good about these shows.  They don’t spin my daughter up or let her pick up undesirable attitudes, and many of them are sneakily educational to boot.

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Marjorie