Often overlooked because of safety issues, educating with YouTube can be a rewarding experience for you and your homeschooled children. My family has homeschooled for two decades, way before YouTube was a thing and what I wouldn’t give to have had this resource way back when. We have YouTube now and we take advantage of it as often as we need to.
What follows is a list of our favorite 15 educational YouTube channels for homeschooling.
Videos for the Younger Crowd
Safety, safety, safety is the key to the best experience for younger kids. I’ve found that by using the Safe.Vision app I am entirely equipped to control what YouTube channels my children watch, especially my 6-year-old. Here are three of the channels I allow my young child (mostly) unfettered access to:
Kid Time Story Time
I’ll admit that I don’t really enjoy reading books to my children. This doesn’t make me a terrible homeschooler anymore, YouTube to the rescue!
My youngest child is partial to the Kid Time Story Time channel, mostly because of the cute stuffed animals and lively storyteller. I am partial to Kid Time Story Time because of the sheer number of quality available books, Biographies, mental & physical well-being, conflict resolution; there are so many stories here that your child won’t run out of stories anytime soon.
Baby First TV
It’s 5:00 pm, you’re trying to start dinner and put the groceries away, and your toddler is cranky. You’re probably cranky too. I’ve not always been “that person” who uses TV as a baby sitter, but life is hard and sometimes you just need a break. Baby First TV was created to stimulate young brains by showcasing gentle, vividly-colored, and musical programming.
Baby First TV has been around since my now 17-year-old was, well, a baby. It was an extra cable subscription back then but now all you have to do is log into YouTube. Your toddler will learn about art, math, friendship, and you can cook in quiet. For a few minutes, anyhow.
Cosmic Kids Yoga
I’ve been hearing all about how amazing Cosmic Kids is for years. Years! Earlier this year I finally listened. Why did it take me so long??
My youngest child is entranced with this story-based Yoga YouTube channel. Cosmic Kids Yoga features Jaime Amor, who hails from England, who guides your child through favorite stories with story-based guided yoga & meditation videos.
Best Science Programs on YouTube
The Spangler Effect
Steve Spangler is a mainstay of science education. He has all sorts of goodies on his YouTube channel in the form of science experiments you can’t (and can) do at home. You’ll likely hear lots of “Awesome!” and “Hey mom, come see this!”s. Sorry about that.
PBS Eons is a show my family and I never miss, and I mean never. Thanks to a recommendation from my teenaged son, we have a new favorite show. Perfect especially for high school (due to depth of subject material), PBS Eons episodes are about pre-history and are quite short, just 8-11 minutes. Dinosaurs, biology, evolution, and extinction are a few of the topics you’ll see in their extensive playlists.
Have you ever thought, “Self, I think I should get stung by an Asian Giant Hornet today just to see if it hurts!”. I never have but Coyote Peterson sure has. Coyote not only loves to be bitten and stung by animals, he’s also developed an astonishing amount of animal-related educational materials! Oh, and did I mention his VR videos yet?
YouTube Channels I Recommend for World History
The Great War
My daughter discovered The Great War while doing background research for a story. When she told me about the unique premise of the show, I knew this channel was on to something.
The Great War teaches viewers about WW1 in real-time. Yes, real-time! Each episode is presented as a news broadcast-style, bias-free, video that examines all sides of the war, not just the American story. The war is only a small part of the program, much emphasis is placed on the people who aren’t on the battlefield. News from the homefront, fashion around the world, contemporary entertainers, you get the idea. The entire series is available, start the videos on the week you’re currently in for the best experience.
If you haven’t heard of Crash Course, boy are you in for a treat. The Green Brothers take us on a fast-paced* but easily understandable, journey through history. These cleverly-animated videos were created for older students and adults, however, there is a Crash Course Jr YouTube channel that plays programming for more appropriate for younger audiences. A lot of homeschoolers use these videos to supplement their history curriculum or as the jumping-off point for a great unit study. Regardless, Crash Course is not only educational, it’s funny to boot.
*If your child needs a slower pace, there are websites that offer transcripts of each episode at very little cost. My teens usually watch the video followed by reading the transcript.
History for Kids
Kids need to learn world history from an impartial source. I rarely say the word need, but in this case, I believe History for Kids (from Homeschool Pop) should be watched by kids everywhere.
History for Kids is set apart from other channels because of the thoughtfulness of presentation for each grade level. History for Kids covers PreK-3rd grade, and are designed as such. PreK & Kindergarten videos feature slower speaking and video transitions. First and second grades introduce new terms and concepts. Third grade features more “mature” content like slavery & Christopher Columbus. The videos are not meant to be persuasive, they simply present bias-free facts in an age-appropriate manner.
Math, ugh. When you’re a mathphobe it can be exceedingly difficult not to pass your feelings about math to your children. This is not a good thing, trust me. Parents who despise math create kids who despise math. What’s the answer then? YouTube.
Khan Academy has been very popular with homeschooling families for good reason. The founder of Khan Academy, Sal Khan, takes you step-by-step through math equations.
Parents have the ability to assign videos and curriculum based on your child’s mathematical experience. My 17-year-old is currently using Khan Academy for geometry, switching over from the slower-paced curriculum she has used for years.
Math Antics, long used by tutors, is a supplementary, explanation-first math program. In fact, my younger teen is using it with his tutor right now! The host of Math Antics is super engaging, funny when appropriate, and presents math in a way that makes learning math a whole lot easier.
NumberRock is 1. Hilarious and 2. Perfect for visual & auditory learners and 3. Introduces math terminology in kid-friendly ways. NumberRock offers videos for pre-K through 3rd grade and translates their content into several languages, making them an exemplary example of the quality of videos on YouTube.
Human Interest YouTube Channels
Some videos are just plain interesting. Human interest videos can teach empathy, awareness, and tell stories about humanity. Here are some of the best human interest channels we have found so far:
This American Life
My favorite TV show turned Podcast, This American Life, provides audio of their podcast episodes on YouTube. While there is no visual component, This Americal Life is definitely worth a listen. We cast the videos to our SmartTV, which we’ve found perfect for audio-only videos.
This American Life tells the stories of ordinary people, both the amusing and ugly side of life in the United States. Content warning: This American Life is most appropriate for high schoolers & adults. I recommend all watchers read the description of the episodes first as I have found a few of them to be triggering.
My kids enjoy Mental Floss a lot, my son mourned the discontinuation of the Mental Floss Magazine, but it resulted in a flourishing YouTube channel. Mental Floss episodes are just a few minutes long and presented in a highly-engaging format. The hosts of Mental Floss will teach you everything about everything you didn’t know you wanted to learn about. Or so we think, anyhow. Be sure to reading the description of episodes to avoid content you may find too mature.
Candyseed Stories is such a charming YouTube Channel designed for younger family members. In these videos kids are introduced to books and stories that celebrate diversity, featuring guest hosts and books of many racial & cultural backgrounds. Candyseed’s dedication to presenting diversity in every story is meant to help close the systemic racial divide all around the world, making our children better world citizens.
Rather than passively educating, YouTube delivers experiences that are enthralling, interactive, and well-digested. Youtube is a free resource that most of us have access to, and with proper supervision, it can be used both as a supplement and curriculum. Teaching with YouTube is a perfect fit for most students, I hope it works as well for your family as it does mine.