Let’s face it. The world we are currently living in has drastically changed! We’re making and wearing masks, we’re having Zoom meetings from our living rooms, terms like “social distancing” and “quarantine” have become a part of our everyday language, and we’re all trying to come to terms with our new normal. But perhaps one of the most difficult transitions that have taken place is that parents have had to tackle the massive task of homeschooling their children. Yikes! You’ve had to become an Algebra expert, English professor, Science fundy, Personal Chef, and School Counselor, all while still balancing your own life, your family’s everyday needs, and dealing with your own emotions during this chaotic and straight-up confusing time. Phew! So to keep everyone happy whilst homeschooling, we’re sharing some of our top podcasts to help ease the educational burden. Whether you use these during some downtime away from the screens, to help keep the curious minds stimulated, or as an activity you and the kids can do together, there’s something for everyone on this list! From Science to History, Home Ec to Creative Writing, these shows have got it covered!
1. Reading Bug Adventures
First up, for the young ones (and the young at heart!) we have Reading Bug Adventures, brought to us by The Reading Bug, a family-owned, independent bookstore in California. The podcast is up-beat and features original stories and songs as we follow the Reading Bug on a new adventure each episode, depending on what books are in the Reading Bug’s magical book bag! This show makes our homeschooling list particularly for the interactive element of these stories, as listeners are encouraged to have paper and crayons handy to draw pictures from the story. The stories are super descriptive, full of facts and discoveries, and your kids will learn all about different parts of the world as the Travel Bug goes on each new adventure. As a bonus, the Spelling Bee often makes an appearance, making this the perfect podcast to cover all sorts of school subjects.
2. Brains On!
If you’re looking for a science-focused podcast to keep curious minds stimulated, you’re going to want to check out Brains On! It may be branded as a science podcast for kids, but you’ll love learning about vast and varied topics just as much as they will. The episodes cover everything from decyphering myths and mythical creatures, to answering questions you never knew you had, like do plants have feelings or what actually makes food delicious? (What great questions, right?) It’s a fun, engaging way to keep the thirst for knowledge alive and thriving, and a great tool to help develop critical thinking skills and broaden scientific horizons.
3. Wow in the World
Wow in the World is another sciencey podcast that takes curious kids (and their grown-ups) on a journey of discovering the incredible world in which we live. Together with hosts Mindy Thomas and Guy Raz, your kids will go on crazy science adventures, from the inside of our brains to way out into deep space, as well as learning all about the mindblowing new technological discoveries happening all around the world. It’s a really well-produced, high-quality educational adventure you and your kids will love. And especially for this time of lockdown, NPR has also launched spin-off episodes called Two Whats?! And a Wow, which is like an interactive, science-based game show getting kids to do some fun research to spot the fact from the fiction. It’s a great show to add some diversity to learning as well as getting your children interested in science research and the process of discovery.
4. Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
History and Socal Studies are covered thanks to Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls. This podcast is based on the New York Times bestselling book of the same name and is a great way to learn about all the phenomenal people, past and present, from all over the world doing astonishing things in a variety of fields and spheres of influence. This podcast is a great way to introduce all children (it’s definitely not just for girls!) to some fantastic role models who will motivate and inspire both young and old alike to do the impossible, to dream bigger, and to aim higher. It’s also a really effective way to enhance the lessons of being kind, standing up for what you believe in, and looking for ways you can change the world around you.
5. Young Ben Franklin
If your family loves the National Treasure franchise (if you haven’t seen these yet, they would make for a great family movie night!), then they will love the Young Ben Franklin podcast. While it is a fictional rendering of his life before he was Benjamin Franklin, the inventor, statesman, and the face on the $100 bill, it’s a fantastic audio production which breathes life into history and paints a tale of intrigue and adventure that will keep all on the edge of their seats. It’s full of mayhem and mystery, as young Ben and his friends stumble upon a mysterious letter leading to a legendary treasure, and as you’re drawn into the tale, you’ll wait with bated breath as Ben uses his wits and bravery to outsmart the cruel British governor of Massachusetts. While it may not be entirely historically accurate, it does a great job of making history real (which, let’s be honest, is half the battle as most History teachers will tell you!), not to mention the imaginative journey it will take you on and all that you’ll learn alongg the way.
6. Earth Rangers
If you’re looking for a great podcast for your nature-loving kiddos, look no further than Earth Rangers. Hosted by an aspiring wildlife biologist “Earth Ranger Emma”, the Earth Ranger Podcast has got it all, from exciting animal facts, super-inspiring conservation stories, and candid conversations with scientists and researchers. From the comfort of your couch, you can travel the world to unearth some of the wildest animal facts and discover some of the world’s craziest creatures. It’s fun and educational, with top ten countdowns, wild animal guessing games, conservation conversations, and epic animal showdowns, perfect for nurturing a love of nature and getting the next generation excited about and involved in nature conservation.
7. Mystery Recipe
We’ve even got a podcast for some Home Economic fun! And this fun comes to us courtesy of Mystery Recipe. This podcast aims to help kids and their grown-ups uncover the fun, fantastical, and fascinating sides of food, and as it’s hosted by Molly Birnbaum, editor-in-chief of America’s Test Kitchen Kids, we’re definitely in the right place to learn about all things yummy! Each ingredient-themed episode builds to a grand finale: a mystery recipe cook-along! That’s right, you get to cook along with the steps listed in the grand finale episode…and then tuck into a delicious meal you’ve prepared yourself! It’s a really great way to get everyone excited about cooking, and it’s also deliciously silly and unexpectedly educational – just what you need to keep your homeschoolers happy..and everyone well-fed!
If you’re looking for great shows to boost your kid’s imagination, creativity, music appreciation, as well as their language arts, then Circle Round is a must for your podcast library! First of all, it’s a great story-telling podcast that shares folktales from around the world, all with an important underlying message. But on top of being fantastic for enhancing storytelling and creative writing skills, orchestral instruments are cleverly used for sound effects and background music, making for a very calming, imaginative experience that will amp up your children’s musical ears. Each episode ranges from 10-20 minutes and includes a thought-provoking question about the tale for children to discuss with a grown-up. Not only are these tales an effective way to develop an appreciation for different cultures, but as folktales have been used for centuries to teach morals, they are a great way to teach character lessons to your children. Sharing stories from different countries provides plots that most have never heard before, making these a worthwhile listen for children and their parents alike. And with the beautiful instrumental accompaniments, creativity and calmness will be the order of the day.
9. Story Pirates
Story Pirates is the perfect podcast for imagination and creative writing inspiration. It’s a truly unique listening experience! The genius premise involves the Story Pirates taking stories written by children and turning them into sketch comedies and songs. A talented group of performers and writers make these stories come alive, and interviews with the kid authors make this show extra special. The songs and in-between content are witty and clever, the stories the kids come up with are hilarious and imaginative, and the performances are excellent. What is so commendable is that by producing these stories, the Story Pirates are showing children that their stories and ideas are worthwhile – and that creative writing can be a truly exciting activity! A Story Pirates episode is usually between 20-30 minutes and is a delightful, fun-filled podcast that’s perfect for children’s imaginations and witty enough for parents to enjoy too. This show is a sure-fire way to spark the imagination and get the creative juices flowing, and you’re bound to get some hilarious submissions from their creative-writing tasks!
10. Julie’s Library
I am of the opinion that Julie Andrews is practically perfect in every way, and so discovering that she has started a podcast with her daughter, children’s author and educator Emma Walton Hamilton, was a truly supercalifragilisticexpialidocious find! On Julie’s Library, we’re invited into their home library and get to hear as Julie and Emma share their favorite children’s books. Julie is a part of so many people’s childhoods – whether from Mary Poppins, the Sound of Music, or The Princess Diaries – and so there is an immediate connection with her voice. And on top of that, every story comes to life with sound, music, and activities, creating a fully immersive, imaginative reading experience. There is also the added bonus of special features from authors, kids, and other special guests, making for a diverse, exciting listen each and every time. If you want to foster a lifelong love of reading and imaginative thinking in young minds, this is the podcast to turn to! As it was started in response to the pandemic, there are not nearly enough episodes! But your kids (and you, no doubt) will wait in eager anticipation for the release of each new installment.
We definitely take our hats off to the parents, their children, and the incredible teachers who’ve had to adapt to making home education work! It’s certainly no easy task and has no doubt involved many a learning curve – no pun intended! But our hope is that these fantastic shows help ease the burden of homeschooling, even just a little bit. Whether you will be using these shows to round out the curriculum, to take some time away from the screen, or just as a way to connect and learn with your children, these podcasts are bound to add a little excitement to your daily routine and help keep the homeschoolers (and their parents!) happy. Add them to your library and you’ll inject a little extra fun into the learning process.