If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time in the car with your kids. Simply driving back and forth from school, I can easily rack up to two hours a day shuttling my children around. Add in extracurricular activities, errands, waiting in the car- that’s a significant chunk of the day behind the wheel. What’s worse, the four and seven year old backseat dictators think they are in charge of what we listen to (spoiler alert: they kind of are.)
Sometimes I need a break from the chatter. And the kids need their brains to be engaged without the television. Enter the podcast.
When driving solo, I crank the tunes and sing along. But that doesn’t fly when my daughter’s in the car mocking my vocal accompaniment to the “Moana” soundtrack. NPR gets voted down, and the news is too scary and overwhelming for kids to overhear. I’m not ready to explain nuclear proliferation to a first grader. I just can’t.
Let me introduce you to a few favorite kids podcasts (that I can tolerate too.)
I listen to each podcast listed here so I can vouch for their content and listenability, but only you know what content best suits your family.
Distributed by National Public Radio and hosted by Guy Raz and Mindy Anderson, this podcast explores topics like chemistry, space travel, biology, inventions, and human interaction. The funny stories and interviews keep the whole family laughing while learning. I have caught myself listening long after drop off: it’s that good.
“Stories” is an an ever-expanding collection of original and adapted stories written by Daniel Hinds and performed by Amanda Weldin. With blend of familiar classics and originals, the stories are engaging, funny, and creative. Each episode has a least one song that sticks in your head (a possible downside.) What I like most about this podcast is the diversity of subjects and historical references like “The Legend of John Henry” and “The Origins of Hanukkah.” Some stories contain several chapters, useful for breaking up long car rides.
At the end of a long day it can be hard to little bodies (and minds) to settle down. To help relax, tune into this podcast presented by Bedtime FM. The episodes focus on the concepts of mindfulness, using progressive muscle relaxation and guided visualization to slow things down. The soothing voice of host Chanel Tsang invites listeners to connect their physical bodies with their minds by engaging their creative imaginations. Episodes start with a “Calm Down Count Down”, preparing the listener to fully participate by counting backwards from ten. This podcast is so relaxing that I don’t recommend listening to it while driving!
If you love learning about technology, the planet, and how it all works together, this is the podcast for you. Through interviews, experiments, and discussions, each episode begins with a child posing a question. The producers are “serious about being curious” and succeed at keeping listeners intrigued, engaged, and eager to hear more.
Meet Finn. He’s a regular kid celebrating his birthday when his world take a drastic turn involving escape and danger. This sci-fi series enthralls listeners by telling tales of encounters with monsters, robots, and far-away galaxies. Because this is a serialized podcast (like a chapter book), be sure to start with episode 1: “The Room Behind the Room (Behind the Room).” This podcast is most appropriate for older children, age seven and up, due to the complex storyline and plot.
What are your favorite podcasts to listen to with your kids?