I often feel conflicted about the role of television in my kids’ day. On one hand, there is value in educational TV. My daughter has learned about letters and numbers from shows like “Team Umizoomi” and “Wallykazam”. She’s gained valuable social and emotional skills from “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and “Blue’s Clues”. I’ve worked hard to follow the AAP recommendations on screen time by making it an interactive experience, asking and answering questions and reinforcing the lessons off screen.
But sometimes those AAP guidelines go out the window when I need TV to distract both kids long enough to cook dinner, which is why choosing the right program is key. Kids have a bad habit of picking up the worst habits from children’s television, whether it’s whining like Calliou or fat shaming like Peppa Pig.
While the educationally inclined shows can entertain for a time, I’ve found that my preschooler really enjoys watching a show about a character her age experiencing her world. This isn’t Paw Patrol saving Adventure Bay or Dora on a mission. It’s simple story lines with relatable characters.
It’s called “Sarah and Duck”.
The BBC’s “Sarah and Duck” features a seven-year-old girl and her best friend, Duck. I learned about the show from a mom friend. After she recommended it to me, three other moms I know also mentioned it. All our kids love it, and for good reasons.
Here are six reasons your kids should be watching “Sarah and Duck”, too:
It’s fantastical and imaginative
The world of Sarah and Duck works a bit differently than ours. Rainbow and the Moon talk and are frequent visitors. The bouncy ball vending machine invites guests in to choose a new bouncy ball and fix problems with the old ones. Umbrellas grow from the ground (and talk and don’t like rain). Also, Sarah lives with a duck. It never feels wrong or strange, it just is. Children can happily suspend their disbelief in the world of Sarah and Duck.
It’s inclusive and diverse
Sarah encounters an eclectic cast of characters on her adventures: human and anthropomorphized animals and inanimate objects. Each is quirky and unique, but presented without judgement. Sarah’s friend John is best friends with a flamingo. Plate girl walks around with a plate. Scarf lady – the friendly, but absent-minded neighbor – is regularly harangued by her curmudgeonly tartan bag, but never judged by Sarah. Everyone is different and everyone is worthwhile.
It’s slow and mellow
A lot of children’s television is high octane. There’s always an emergency to fix or an mission to undertake. Sarah and Duck have adventures, but at a slower pace. It’s about the experience, not the ending. It’s good to slow down and enjoy the journey.
The music is delightful
The theme song on “Sarah and Duck” won’t get stuck in your head. Instead, it floats through the background as incidental music. Music is also a common thread throughout the show and a regular part of Sarah’s day. A tuba player herself, Sarah is often accompanied by Duck on the drum and occasionally, a bug band playing jazz. Music weaves throughout the story, providing an emotional backdrop to the scene at hand.
There are lessons, but subtly
Because Sarah is a young child, she is just as eager to learn as her audience. Lessons are sprinkled throughout, shared when the off-screen narrator introduces a new word or when Rainbow explains how he comes and goes. It never feels like an educational show, even though it is. The biggest takeaway? Sometimes the best thing to do is slow down and have a sit and think.
It’s silly and charming
Unlike most children’s programs, “Sarah and Duck” isn’t a chore to watch. It’s fun and silly. It makes my daughter laugh. She will talk about her favorite moments, starting a dialogue between us and firing up her imagination.
Sarah and Duck is available to stream on Netflix and Sprout Online and to purchase on Amazon Video.