TV can be a tricky topic when it comes to parenting a young child. On one hand, it seems like everyone is telling you not to let kids have too much screen time. On the other hand, there are some truly educational and inspiring programs and movies that kids can benefit from. The key is making sure what they are getting is quality stuff.
In this guide, we’ll go over the different things to look for when deciding on a DVD for a 5-year-old. There are a lot of things to consider at this age, and picking out the right show can seem almost impossible. At the end of our guide, we’ve also got a list of our 10 favorite DVDs for you to start your search.
How to Choose a DVD for 5-Year-Olds – Buying Guide
At age 5, kids might be a bit too old for early childhood shows but too young for more general programming. This guide will show you how to find something suitable.
The Strengths of Both Educational Videos and General Movies and Shows
While it may seem like the only “good” kind of TV is of the educational sort, more general movies and shows are also great for child development.
Educational Videos Help Children Grow
Educational shows have been proven to have a positive effect on child development. And at five years old, kids are right at that age where they’re the most receptive to new ideas and ways of thinking.
Consider DVDs that help and encourage children to learn to read. Beyond ABCs, look for DVDs that teach them them to make connections between the letters and the sounds they make.
Videos that help kids ask “why?” and “how?” and introduce them to new ideas like science and foreign cultures allow them to stretch their curiosity muscles and get them ready for school.
General Movies and Series Can Teach Empathy and Other Life Skills
Even if the video isn’t teaching your kids about science, ABCs, or 123s, you could also look for movies and series that teach them life skills such as kindness and manners. After all, humans are primed for empathy at a young age, and cultivation should begin early.
Movies like Charlotte’s Web (based on the book) that revolve around friendship and helping others will help your kid be emotionally savvy from the get-go.
For those videos that aren’t young child-specific, be sure to always check the rating and make sure it’s rated G. Kids at this age are still in their most sensitive, formative years, and you don’t want to expose them to anything that could frighten or upset them.
Series Allow for Kids to Grow Attached to Characters, but Many Movies are Classics
Educational videos often come in series as they have a lot of information to cover, so they need to distill them into bite-sized pieces. Series also help kids form an attachment to characters as they follow them on adventures. They’ll also be helpful when you’re sending the kids to grandma’s for the weekend and need material to keep them entertained.
Don’t discount movies, however, as many are usually riveting with an amazing plot, moving message, and three-dimensional characters. E.T. and Miyazaki’s My Neighbor Totoro are good examples.
Keep Them Engaged with Interactive Material and Fun Characters
Young children have notoriously short attention spans, so if you want to make sure they stay put and watch, it needs to be something that keeps them engaged. Look for shows that include interactive songs and directions that invite children to stand up and move along. Having them do more than just passively watch also means that they’re actively working their minds.
Fun, recognizable characters can also be a good way to keep children engaged–they’re more likely to watch a show that features a character that they know and love.
Top 5 Educational DVDs for 5-Year-Olds to Buy Online
For those looking for something more practical, here are a few of our favorite educational shows to help kids get ahead early.
5. Sid the Science Kid: Learn & Play With Sid
Teaches Kids to Question the World Around Them
While most early childhood programs focus on language and math, Sid the Science Kid fills in the science gap. Each episode encourages curiosity and asks questions like, “Why do bananas get mushy?” and “Why are my shoes shrinking?”
However, this show’s animation is not as advanced as some other shows’, and parents might find some characters mildly irritating and hard to connect with.
|Run Time||260 minutes|
|Interactive Features||Music, experiments to try at home|
4. Team Umizoomi
Saving the Day With Math
This show centers around two super-powered siblings that help the people of their town by solving puzzles and problems using skills like spatial reasoning, pattern recognition, and counting.
However, for parents who are conscious of the gendered messages their children receive, this show might set off some red flags as the girl and boy characters fit very neatly into conventional feminine and masculine stereotypes.
|Run Time||95 minutes|
|Interactive Features||Music, puzzles|
3. Wild Kratts: Triple Feature: Predator Power, Lost at Sea, and Rainforest Rescue
A Show About Animals that Kids Will Love for Years to Come
This DVD from the Wild Kratts teaches kids about animals, biology, endangerment, and the importance of protecting the environment, fostering a sense of appreciation and wonder for the natural world.
These movies are fun and informative and won’t be too “kiddish” for children as they age. In fact, parents and adults will likely enjoy this DVD just as much as kids do.
|Run Time||205 minutes|
2. Rock ‘N Learn Sight Words 3-DVD Set
Teaches Kids to Read with Fun Songs and Repetition
While most parents and teachers start teaching children to read with phonics, another effective way to get kids reading quickly is by using sight words–that is, teaching kids to recognize words before they fully understand letters and phonics.
This DVD uses catchy tunes to teach children some of the most common words they’ll encounter and really drills it in by taking advantage of kids’ tendency to watch things over and over.
|Run Time||161 minutes|
1. Leapfrog Learn with Leap Mega Pack
High Quality Set Covering a Wide Range of Topics
This 10 pack of DVDs covers everything from reading and phonics to basic math and even learning about school. It’s engaging and fun, and kids are sure to learn a ton without even realizing it.
These videos feature high-quality animation and production, and parents are likely to appreciate them just as much as their kids.
|Run Time||354 minutes|
|Interactive Features||Music, puzzles|
Top 5 General DVDs for 5-Year-Olds to Buy Online
General shows and movies can teach kids valuable lessons, and they’re more parent-friendly than educational videos. Here are our favorites.
5. The Berenstain Bears – Family Values
Family-Focused Comedy with a Lesson
This set includes 40 episodes of the classic show The Berenstain Bears. Each episode teaches lessons about morals, friendship, and family all while being thoroughly entertaining for the kids, mom, and dad.
However, fans of the books will notice that the show is aimed at a slightly younger demographic. While the books are great for kids up to age 10, the show is better for younger audiences up to age 7.
4. The Lion King
A Tried and True Classic
This classic hardly needs an introduction. But for those who need a refresher, The Lion King is a touching coming-of-age story that teaches kids about courage and standing up for what’s right.
While this movie is full of fun songs and silly jokes, there are also a couple of darker moments, so be aware just in case your child is on the more sensitive side.
|Run Time||88 minutes|
3. The Pirate Fairy
Friendship, Magic, and Girl Power
This is not your average fairy movie. Though focused at girls, this movie teaches all kids about the importance of friendship and teamwork.
Don’t write this off as just another straight-to-DVD movie. The Pirate Fairy is well produced, funny, and engaging and is sure to entertain the whole family.
|Run Time||78 minutes|
2. My Neighbor Totoro
A Timeless Story of Adventure and Courage
My Neighbor Totoro has long been a classic in Japanese cinema, and for good reason! It’s a heartwarming film for the whole family that focuses on courage, curiosity, and family.
This is especially good for families with multiple children as the main relationship in this movie is between siblings. For those who have seen the original English dub, however, note that this version has a different script and different actors.
|Run Time||88 minutes|
1. Toy Story
Inspiring Imagination and Play
This universally loved film from Pixar teaches kids about friendship and teamwork while inspiring a sense of wonder and imagination.
Perfect for a family movie night or just for the kids, this movie is sure to be a household favorite for many years to come. However, parents should note that there are a couple of darker scenes that may not be good for children much younger than 5.
|Run Time||81 minutes|
How to Balance Children’s TV Time
While some TV time is perfectly fine and healthy for children, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than about an hour a day for 5-year-olds. Here are some tips to help you stick to that limit.
Pick a time that would be most helpful for you. The TV is a great way to keep kids occupied by themselves, but don’t rely on it too much. Place that hour at the time you might need it the most, like while you’re cooking dinner or doing work.
Set rules and stick to them. If you’re strict about rules like no TV after dinner or no TV on weekdays, kids will be less likely to ask to watch it during times when they’re not supposed to. Finally, be a good example. If you tell your child not to watch TV but are constantly on your phone, they’re going to have a hard time accepting your rules.
So there you have it–a quick guide to picking out the perfect DVD for any 5-year-old! While too much TV is definitely not good, the right stuff in the right amounts can teach kids about the world and their place within it.
By Jacqueline Oshiro
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