YouTube gets a bad rap from a lot of folks. Parents tend to think the massively popular video platform is only good for cat videos, toy unboxings or zoning out on Minecraft channels, but there are actually a ton of excellent, high-quality educational shows and channels available on YouTube.
Many are great for motivating elementary students, gearing up interest in art or music in tweens, or brushing up on complex math or science for high-schoolers. YouTube can be an asset and a boon to your child’s learning.
Curious to know what some of these unmissable educational shows are? Read on for a list of shows categorized by age.
This phone show started in 2014 and is hosted by Jessi and Squeaks, her robot rat. Twice a week they answer fun and complex questions like "Why Does Ice Cream Hurt My Head?” and “Why Do We Cry When We’re Sad?” Making science fun and accessible, SciShow Kids is a wonderful choice for screen time, supplementing school lessons or finding answers to your kid’s endless list of questions.
It’s Okay to Be Smart
Produced by educational stalwart PBS Digital, It’s Okay To Be Smart encourages curiosity and host Joe Hanson makes learning fun with kid-friendly topics like “Flatulence and You: It’s Okay to Fart” and “How Poop Shapes The World.” It’s not all about poop though; he also tackles serious scientific concepts about climate change and the properties of light.
Flocabulary uses hip-hop to teach everything from language arts to history, for all ages. Covering topics ranging from the original 13 colonies to how to manage anxiety. Flocabulary teaches standards-based lessons in a fun and memorable way.
Covering basic arithmetic all the way up to algebra, MathAntics might be just the homework help your child needs. Breaking down complicated mathematical concepts into easy to understand basics, hosts Rob and Jeremy make math interesting.
The King of Random
“Imagine a cross between MacGyver, James Bond and the Myth-busters” sums up The King of Random pretty well. With fun experiments, host Grant Thompson pushes the envelope of “don’t try this at home” and shows kids top-tier science in a safe way.
Host and rapper Mike really likes science. Every month, Mike releases a new science-themed rap song and they are all awesome. He covers everything from deep space to scientists of color. This show is a great choice to complement middle school core sciences.
The channel tagline, “Simply put: cool physics and other sweet science” sums it up pretty nicely. Wave and particle physics, special relativity, dark matter, every cool thing about physics and advanced science is here. Whether your high schooler is struggling with advanced concepts or just thinks physics is awesome, Minute Physics is a great use of their screen time.
Host Marty Schwartz makes top-tier guitar instruction available to everyone. With daily updates covering lessons, theory, gear reviews and more, Marty can help your kids learn not only the what of basic lessons but the how of technique.
Crash Course is the YouTube channel you didn’t know you needed. Entire courses in one channel, on everything from sociology to ancient myth, taught by qualified and entertaining instructors, this channel is great for students looking to go beyond their school lessons and parents who might want to brush up or learn something new.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published in September 2018, and updated in March 2020.