Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been exploring Smart Kidz Radio, which is a free streaming radio station for children. For this review, we checked out the streaming “edutainment” radio option as well as some of the podcasts available, which are also free. This is an effort put forth by Smart Kidz Media. The goal of the company is to offer free “foundational education programs” to every child, no matter their religion, race, or gender.
Smart Kidz is expecting to add on-demand options, which will not be free, but will be available at a low cost on a monthy membership basis. We did preview a couple of these programs as well.
Upon signing up for a free account, the player is immediately available for the streaming music to begin. The songs are upbeat, for the most part, and cover many varieties of music, including blues, piano, horns, funk, and a cappella. There are some slower bedtime songs also. Many have a chorus of children for the main vocals, or a single child.
The songs seem to be on a loop. I was not able to determine how long it would go without repeating, but I did listen for about an hour and a half straight one time and there was only one song that was played multiple times, and we heard that one three times. The only reason I bring this up is because we would play it for a few songs here and there to see what was offered, and sometimes the songs sounded familiar. Based on listening multiple times, I’d say there is a couple or three hours’ worth of music before it starts repeating. But, this is normal for any radio station, so it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It gives the kids a chance to learn the songs, and I even found myself singing some of them while doing the dishes the other day. Ha!
The songs are grouped into themes. I picked up on the following themes:
- similarities and differences
- controlling our thoughts
- bodily functions (nothing gross)
- sadness and self-deprecating thoughts (e.g., stupid, boring, dull, can’t do anything well), but another child points out something positive about the child who is sad
- disabilities and nobody is better than anyone else
- freedom and rights (very basic)
- controlling anger
- differences between males and females
- thinking for yourself
- learning things as you go
- reading and experimenting
- eating right
- overcoming problems
- bathing and teeth brushing
- going to bed
Just like with a traditional radio station, there is a “DJ” interjecting with a very quick ad for the Smart Kidz Bookstore, or just to introduce the next song or concept that will be covered. Each song is about 1-2 minutes long.
This seems geared toward young children, maybe around age 4 to 6 based on the themes I heard. My two toddlers seemed to really enjoy the music and were dancing a lot. However, I do have a 6yo and a 4yo, and they weren’t too fond of it. My 6yo said it was boring and my 4yo kept asking what was being said.
It gave the impression to me that this is for children who go to school. The homeschool lifestyle just is very different from a family with children in a brick and mortar school. This is completely subjective and just my opinion, and I can’t put my finger on why I feel this way about the songs.
There were also some subjects that we do not agree with. One of the songs says there is a “creative magician” inside each of us. We believe the Bible says to stay away from magic so I’m glad my children were not in the room for this song. A secular family would probably not have any issues with this.
PIN IT FOR LATER! Continued below….
It also introduces concepts that I don’t believe need to be outright discussed with a young child. A lot of the songs about feelings and differences and positive self-image are things they have to pick up for themselves through life exprience. Our family does not put a big focus on those types of things; our focus is on our worth in Christ. God loves us no matter how we feel about ourselves and no matter how anyone else might feel about us. Again, a secular family would likely disagree with me here, so perhaps I am just not the target audience for Smart Kidz.
That said, this might be a goot fit for autistic children. There is an emphasis on feelings and emotions and how to relate to others, and some autistic children need extra assistance to learn and incorporate these into their lives.
The podcast section of the radio station includes fairy tales that have been put to music and sound effects. I liked some of these at first, but the stories were changed some, perhaps so they would not infringe on copyrights. It was sort of a turnoff that they were not the “right” stories. One example is Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It wasn’t bad per se, just different, which I wasn’t expecting. We don’t really do fairy tales so the others, such as Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Cinderella, etc. did not appeal to us. Itsy Bitsy Spider was on there and it sounded like the other music on the streaming channel.
The on-demand music is still being finalized, but we did preview some of these. They are similar to the streaming channel and fairy tales we had listened to. Examples include Bible stories and “not so scary tales.” I think the quality of these is better than the streaming programming, but the samples are pretty short so it’s hard to know for sure.
They do have a QR code you can scan and open in your phone, but I was not able to get any songs to play. Hopefully they will be updating that as they get the on-demand programming finalized.
Either way, it’s worth giving it a listen to see if this is something your family would enjoy. You can sign up for the free streaming edutainment for kids from Smart Kidz Radio here. Please check out other Homeschool Review Crew reviews as well.