Summer learning loss is always top-of-mind when the schoolbooks close and the summer sunshine beckons. It can be hard to keep kids engaged in education when they’re on a brain break. Literacy skills are foundational for language and general comprehension, so instilling a summer reading log is a no-brainer. Reading can’t always hold an active kid’s attention, especially with the distraction of the outdoors and friends. Literacy skills can still see an improvement from educational sources that won’t feel like homework at all.
If you’re looking for some added tools on the road to literacy, podcasts might be a good option for your child. Growing in popularity and often thought of as a medium for adults, there’s a small, increasing collection of podcasts made with kids in mind. In fact, the National Literacy Trust found a positive link between children who listen to podcasts and general reading engagement. Additionally, consuming audio stories requires different skills in comprehension as children gain active listening skills.
Beyond the listening benefits, podcasts for kids have some of the same benefits in their content as reading, including life lessons and inspiring stories. Take a dip into some summer-themed podcasts to keep your kiddo on the learning path.
1. Ages 3-6: Ahway Island
As the sun sets later and later, summer bedtime can be chaotic. But for the littlest minds comes audio bedtime stories designed to put them to sleep. This twenty-minute podcast spends its first half getting your child comfortable in bed. Lights turned off? Check. Blankets covered? Check. There’s also a time for deep breaths and relaxing of the body that presents a child-friendly way to unwind. Then comes a quiet bedtime story centered around the citizens of Ahway Island as they explore the beauty of sunny landscapes and focus on skills like names and adjectives. These low-key children’s stories, whether centered around Chance the Cardboard Box or Sklyer the Skunk, always end the same—with the characters finishing off a day of exploring by getting ready for bed.
2. Ages 3-6: Ear Snacks
The Ear Snacks podcast emphasizes ideas of summer fun sounds and music. Whether it’s about camping or an entire episode on hats, expect engaging audio filled with amusing voices and themed original songs. The podcast has an aimless quality to it as a given episode glides from fictional giraffes figuring out what a tent or a packing list is, to broader concepts on shelter and what makes somewhere feel like home. Going from minute details to big picture concepts can be a great structure for critical thinking, and it certainly doesn’t hurt when an idea concludes with a summery campfire song.
3. Ages 3-6: Emotion Motion Podcast
Nothing is more appealing in the summer heat than an ocean-themed story with fantastical characters. Enter the Emotion Motion Podcast that not only follows the adventures of Megan the Mermaid in her nautical home but teaches social and emotional learning (SEL) to your kiddos. This summer’s story times offer dynamic audio learning through consistent characters as they navigate emotional reactions in social situations. From losing a tooth to gaining a younger sibling, Megan works through her feelings within the story using helpful “emotion managers.”
4. Ages 4-7: Circle Round
Telling stories is a key way to keep your little one engaged in their reading goals. Podcasts are a great strategy to make these stories more exciting, with audio production allowing individual character voices from professional actors and background music. Circle Round, from Boston Public Radio, tries not to tell the stories your child has heard before, converting folk tales from around the world. These fables provide lessons that the narration takes time to fully unpack and apply to real life. Whether through the story of a gloomy pine tree who must learn that the grass is always greener on the other side, or a rabbit learning that strength comes in many forms, “Circle Round” provides core life lessons.
5. Ages 6-10: Bobby Wonder
Follow the escapades and heroic mission of kid superhero Bobby Wonder through five seasons of adventure this summer. The most recent quest currently releases weekly, giving your kids something to look forward to in a lesson of patience and memory. This summery season involves the villain Mighty Mila, whose evil goal is to get rid of everyone’s hair. To save the day, Bobby needs to do some problem solving, including searching the oceans for a hair growth cure. A little silly and playful—the hair cure is purple seaweed, after all—this podcast offers agreeable fun.
6. Ages 6-10: But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean it’s time to stop being curious. In fact, summer is often the perfect time for kids to ask questions about the world around them, especially when they’re spending more time in nature. “But Why” includes those young voices in their episodes to ask the questions on every kid’s mind. Just in time for summer, learn about how ice cream is made or how flowers bloom. The podcast encourages kids to get involved, with open calls to record questions and responses around each week’s theme. With the blossoming scientist in mind, the episodes don’t steer away from scientific words and concepts from real experts.
7. Ages 7-11: Family Road Trip Trivia
Summer is the season of road trips. Though the main goal might be the trip’s destination, the journey is just as much a part of the experience. Cut down the “Are we there yet?” questions with a podcast for the whole car via “Family Road Trip Trivia.” Whether it’s a round of Disney song trivia or Fortnite-themed questions, each ten-minute episode allows for racking up points and healthy competition. The format gets the whole car involved while letting the drive time tick by.
8. Ages 7-11: The Big Fib
With the amount of content available to little minds, media literacy is a hot topic for the young, technology-driven generation. “The Big Fib” takes on the daunting task in a fun, lighthearted way while engaging your child’s critical thinking skills. With its peppy theme song and “two truths and a lie” structure, each episode is clever in its lessons. Within an episode, kids interview two “experts” on silly topics, including some summer-themed content on cacti and seaweed. Each expert presents facts on the topic and invites its listeners to figure out which person is lying.
9. Ages 9-12: How We Explore
For the older aspiring scientists comes a National Geographic series on real-life explorers. Summer vacation often fosters more enthusiasm for nature, and these podcast episodes fuel that sense of wonder. Whether the featured explorer studies Egypt or forests, the listenership can learn new scientific concepts in a format easier to understand.
10. Ages 12 and up: The Genius Generation
For the entrepreneurial-mind child in your life summer is the perfect time to think up the next big invention. “The Genius Generation” might supply the perfect dose of inspiration from like-minded kids of their own age. Meet 19-year-old, Mary, who created an alternative to pesticides and herbicides. Or meet teen, Lino Marrero, who, at 12 years old, thought up a shoe insert that charges a phone through exercise. Bite-sized and perfect for teens in STEM, children can hear directly from ambitious teens themselves.
While you and your child take time to learn this summer, consider looking forward to the upcoming school year and enroll your child in a Stride K12 school.