With parents around the world suddenly thrust into the role of homeschooling their children due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the mere thought of this task can be daunting, stressful, and overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be. Today’s young people have been raised on technology. They have incorporated into their lives the way that generations before them used the TV and the radio. Think of this, not a chore but an opportunity to educate your child in the most hands-on way possible!
Most educators agree young people should have no more than two hours of screen time each day. The reality is that they are going to have more than that. Given the current situation, now is the time to supplement their learning with as much visual stimuli as possible. Why not try and make it the most enriching, educational and entertaining screen time possible you can? Here is a round-up of the 38 most educational titles on Netflix. Some of them might get your children to think about larger issues, while others could actually get their bodies up and moving around! Lastly, the titles on this list have been sorted by category so that you can easily find what your need for your daily lesson plan.
Our Planet – TV-PG
This incredibly well together documentary is vast in scope and actually covers the areas of both nature and geography. Viewers get to see parts of the world they most likely know nothing about. Also, wrapped up within this majestic documentary is a (not heavy-handed) discussion regarding climate change. With a runtime between 7-8 hours, and broken up into episodic parts, Our Planet is a must for any homeschool lesson plan.
Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale – TV-PG
Love elephants? Does your child? Well, get all the information you need in the enlightening documentary, Naledi: A Baby Elephant’s Tale. While at times uplifting and at other times heartbreaking, this documentary follows the fight to help a baby elephant that was orphaned in Botswana. This fight is actually a much bigger battle to save all elephants from extinction.
Oceans – G
This Disney documentary has just about everything you could want to help your indoor lessons not feel as claustrophobic. First of all, we are shown how important resource water is in all existence. This is further discussed in the symbiotic relationship between oceans and how humans affect their environments. They cram a lot of information into this 84-minute documentary, and best of all it is jam-packed with lush visuals.
Meet the Trumps: From Immigrant to President – TV-14
Get an inside look at our 45th president. See how the Trump family got their start gold-mining, which eventually led to owning properties. From there, Donald Trump was able to parlay all of that into many millions, fame, and ultimately, the Presidency of the United States. Trump, by virtue of his larger-than-life personality, maybe our most recognizable president across generations. This video goes beyond the memes and the viral videos, to give homeschooled youths a broader idea of this complex man.
The Vietnam War – TV-MA
While this will mostly skew to teens and high schoolers, it parallels many present-day conflicts (especially in the Middle East) to make this documentary one incorporate into your lesson plans. Most of the parents who will bring content to their children were in some way affected by The Vietnam War. That will give this material an immediacy and make it a tool to open up discussions that were heretofore not being had. Also, the richness and depth of this documentary (a Ken Burns trademark) enriches every aspect of this series.
The Royal House of Windsor – TV-MA
Always wanted to know more about the Royal family? Have your kids asked you questions and you’ve been not so quick with the answers? Learn together with this 6 episode look at how the British royals have survived for a century. The best part? With Prince Harry and Meghan Markle recently leaving the Royal family, parents can tie this story into current events!
Oliver Stone’s Untold History of the United States – TV-PG
While Oliver Stone isn’t everybody’s cup of tea when it comes to history, at the very least he offers ideas that get people thinking. This series certainly skews toward older teens. It shows us aspects of World War Two, Hiroshima, The Cold War and other historic moments that many probably didn’t know about before. It is this unique take that should engage viewers and offer much food for thought.
Kevin Hart’s Guide to Black History – TV-PG
Kevin Hart gives us his up-close and personal approach to history when he takes viewers into the world of arctic explorer Matthew Henson, astronaut Mae Jamison, performers like Josephine Baker (who was also a spy for the US!) and more. Done in a funny but enlightening way, this hour long show should probably have been a series all its own. The best part? We find out how many of the performers, inventors, and other things we can’t live without today are actually directly tied to the ingenuity of the African American experience.
Bill Nye, Saves the World – TV-14
Science can be pretty daunting but Bill Nye makes it easy in this series. Utilizing experts and celebrities, Billy Nye does his best to explain big concepts that effect all of our lives. Some of those episodes discuss addiction, living without water, marijuana, and more. The best part of this series is that every show is broken up to easily craft a lesson plan depending on the ages of your homeschooling audience.
Edge of the Universe – TV-G
The entire family can sit back and enjoy this in-depth look at the universe. Interested in comets? New planets? The fate of earth? Get ready for an awesome visual experience as some of the best astronomers in their field discuss these and other topics. So much astronomy content is available online, however, this series will allow for discussions as well as conjecture regarding where our universe is headed.
Ancient Aliens – TV-PG
You always hear people reply to the question, “Do you believe in life on other planets?” By saying, “We can’t be the only things out here.” Well, did you ever think that aliens might have had a hand in shaping earth’s civilization? Meant to spark a discussion, Ancient Aliens explores whether these otherworldly beings may have visited certain places on earth, caused natural disasters, and used technology that couldn’t have been around at the dawn of civilization. Some people in your household will be sceptics, while others will be enthralled at the thoughts and ideas presented here. Isn’t that how it always is with education?
NOVA: Prediction By the Numbers – TV-G
Algorithms are all around us. Everybody knows what they are even if they don’t understand or can’t put them into words. NOVA: Prediction By the Numbers is the perfect bridge for all of that, as it shows us how algorithms are at play in everything we do. Everybody loves predicting things and this documentary will certainly get that discussion going in your home. The best part is that this documentary is geared to children of all ages.
Ask the Storybots – TV-Y
This 3 season show definitely skews a bit younger. It isn’t an overt piece of math content but there’s math at work in it as students learn how music is made, why people look different, and how the cellphones we can’t keep them off of work. On the face of it this might seem like a piece of disposable, animated content but Ask the Storybots is perfectly layered for the youth homeschool experience.
Dream Big: Engineering Our World – TV-G
Do your kids ever see pictures and ask “Where is that?” Or, “What is that?” Now they will have a chance to find out as they are taken around the world to see some of the coolest pieces of engineering mastery. In fact, you can even explain to your children that the roads we use, the bridges we cross, the buildings they enter, wouldn’t exist were it not for engineering. This video is a great tool to get many discussions underway.
Spelling the Dream – TV-G
This inspiring documentary looks at the Scripps National Spelling Bee and how Indian Americans have been excelling at it for over two decades. It allows viewers to see the pressures of being in a spelling bee, as well as seeing what they go through to make it to the top spots. On top of that, they are taken into the highs and lows that the contestants experience, which is a great way for younger viewers to see the struggles of people they can identify with.
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – PG-13
With a lot of time at home what better way to eat it up than with all three Lord of the Rings movies. The best part? You can supplement your child’s viewing with the actual books in this trilogy from author J.R.R. Tolkien. While this tale of Aragorn returning to his role of King might be a lengthy watch for younger viewers, they will no doubt be captivated by the world of Middle Earth that director Peter Jackson created. A piece of content that can satisfy the tastes of younger and older kids? That’s an A+ in our homeschooling grade book.
Freedom Writers – PG-13
This true tale of Erin Gruwell (played in the film by Hilary Swank), a teacher who used the book “The Diary of Anne Frank” to inspire her students, is definitely one for your homeschool viewing list. Asking her students to keep diaries of their own lives, she was able to help them relate to Anne Frank’s story, as well as tell their own. In the process she inspired her students to exceed expectations and do everything in their power to change their world.
The Toys that Made Us – TV-14
With 3 seasons to its credit The Toys that Made Us is many different kinds of shows rolled into one. First of all, young people will learn why certain decisions were made on various toys. Second, they will learn about the business of toys which, with billions of dollars at stake, is BIG business. Lastly, they will learn about the balance between creativity and commerce. Whether they want to know about such toys as My Little Pony, LEGO or Star Wars, this show has something for the entire family, even if it might be a few clicks above your youngest child’s normal content.
Street Food – TV-G
With pop-up restaurants now a thing, families are no strangers to the culinary delicacies they have to offer. In Street Food, viewers are taken all over the world to learn about dishes like tom yum soup, spiced chole bhature, and soy-marinated crabs among other things. With its global approach, young viewers will get something of a geography lesson and a taste (no pun intended) of what the rest of the world likes to snack on.
Lego House: HomeBrick – TV-G
Lego’s are loved by people young and old and in this 47-minute documentary, we are taken to Billund, Denmark. This is the site of a 130,000-square-foot home that was inspired by various LEGO’s! It is truly awe-inspiring and the fact that it incorporates LEGO’s into its design, and also allows people to display their own designs, will certainly get users excited. This is a great way for the whole family to participate in turning their own homes into a LEGO house!