A woman leans over the back of an armchair where a boy sits with a tablet

Resources for parents and caregivers

During the early years of a child’s life, it’s critical to build the foundational cognitive and social-emotional skills they will need to be successful lifelong learners. Neuroscience indicates that young children’s brains grow at a faster rate in the years before kindergarten than at any other time in their life. This growth happens through playing and interacting with parents and caregivers with whom they feel safe, loved, and connected. The youngest learners are natural explorers and scientists, but they need adults to keep them safe and to scaffold learning opportunities. Because young children are so dependent on adults for learning, we recommend focusing on four simple activities with the littlest learners: 1) talking 2) reading 3) singing and 4) playing. Through these simple activities, parents can support children’s language development, early literacy, and vocabulary; early math, science skills, and social-emotional development (resources are also available in Spanish).

Screens, even seemingly educational screens, have little benefit on young children’s learning. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends avoiding screens altogether before the age of 2, and allowing only one hour for young children thereafter. The most recent statement from AAP is available here. Two notable exceptions:

  • Watching screens with your child, talking about what you’re seeing and learning, asking questions, and engaging in the learning process together. In these cases, the parent is the teacher and the screen is the prop.
  • Connecting with family/friends via screens is actually highly encouraged.

Below are some educational resources from PBS and other organizations that you can use to learn alongside your child. They are organized by Learning, Sesame Street, K-12, Playing and Thriving.

Learning

  • Pre-K – Anywhere, Anytime learning resources have been created for families to use in order to help prepare their young children for kindergarten.
  • Resources focus on key areas of development: Cognitive Development, Physical Development, Social Emotional Development and Arts.

Use the links below to access content in all four subjects in the following formats:

Sesame Street

Sesame Street content has been robustly studied and covers a wide array of subject areas including specific COVID-19 resources, as well as resources to support academic learning, social-emotional growth, and health and wellness.

  • Videos: A selection of Sesame Street videos, including recent episodes and popular clips are available to stream online.
  • Games: A number of Sesame Street-themed games featuring some of children’s favorite characters on topics like letters, numbers, colors, shapes, seaons, and more are available to play online.
  • Art: Features printable pages on which children can draw, color, and learn.

K-12

Free resources for parents of children in grades K-12 to use with their students from PBS Learning Media are available in the following subjects in multiple formats. Use the links below to access content and filter based on grade level, sub-topic and resource type.

Playing

  • Ways to Play: Explore fun and educational activities for the whole family, including crafts and experiments, games and educational apps, recipes, coloring pages, and more.
  • Family Night: Gather the gang for Family Night, weekly family viewing events featuring movie specials or themed programming. Watch, play and learn with every Friday from 7 to 9 pm, and repeated on Saturday and Sunday evenings.
  • Zero To Three – Play Activities: Includes some great play ideas for infants and toddlers to build language skills and games to keep the young ones busy.

Thriving

  • Zero to Three: Offers resources designed to help users tune in to what makes their child tick, and to guide parents’ thinking about the best way to meet their child’s individual needs
  • Raising Kids Who Thrive: Articles from parents and experts covering a variety of topics, including parenting in the time of COVID-19, promoting social-emotional and character development, and helping children to understand and become aware of their emotions.
  • Bright By Text: A free text message service from Arizona PBS offers developmentally appropriate tips and other local resources to mobile devices based on zip code and the age of users’ child(ren). Content contributions come from highly acclaimed sources such as Zero to Three, PBS Parents, Healthy Steps, Sesame Street and more.
  • Sesame Street Toolkits: Sesame Street Tool Kits provide opportunities to build closeness and confidence, making learning fun, and keeping children’s world safe and secure. (Also available in Spanish)
  • Healthy Parenting (from the World Health Organization): Resources curated by the World Health Organization and its partners to help open the world of isolation. Includes creative content that will entertain and provide a much-needed escape into the fun and magical worlds of imagination and projects that will engage children in understanding the coronavirus, the challenges it brings to their world and what can be done to protect them.
  • New York Times – Parenting (from the New York Times): Provides free guidance and support to parents through evidence-based guides, developmental milestones, reporting that helps readers make decisions for their family and essays about parenthood.
  • Too Small To Fail: Too Small to Fail (TSTF) is leading a public awareness and action campaign to promote the importance of early brain and language development and to empower parents with tools to talk, read, and sing with their young children from birth. This resource meets parents where they are to help them prepare their children for success in school and beyond. Whether at the pediatrician’s office or the playground, TSTF aims to make small moments big by creating opportunities for meaningful interactions anytime, anywhere.
  • Arizona PBS At Home Learning weekly email: Sign up to receive updates and activities related to on air and online PBS content.
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