As a kid, did you like to play “school” when you weren’t in the classroom? If so, then you too like the fun and comfort of doodling in your Lisa Frank notebooks, chatting with friends in the hallway, texting in class, and just hearing that school bell ring. And if everything about school is your kid’s jam as well, now seems like as good a time as any to watch some great shows about school with the family.
Watching any of these series, even just a single episode, will help your little ones
get excited for the new school year. Many of the shows on this list feature relatable characters and storylines like As Told By Ginger, Boy Meets World, or Hey Arnold. These TV shows tackle things like bullying, school crushes, feeling like the odd man out, and more. Meanwhile, other shows like Hannah Montana, The Magic School Bus, and Kim Possible can offer kids a bit of escapism when they want to feel like a superhero or rockstar.
Truly, whichever show you decide to watch, they all feature school in a fun way that’s enjoyable for the whole family.
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Rugrats are now preteens in this spin-off series that focuses on the kids making their way through middle school, and dealing with adolescent issues that everyone can relate to. All your favorite characters like Tommy, Dil, Chuckie, Phil, Lil, Kimi, Angelica and Susie are back and ready to bring on the animated laughs. The kids slog their way through their teen years and face those pressing issues like making a new friend or asking your big crush to the Valentine’s Day Dance. Fans of the original show are in for a grown-up treat because it’s super cool to see your favorite series about babies deal with real life stuff. Stream All Grown Up, rated TV-Y7, on Paramount+. A.N.T Farm
Chyna and her two friends are members of the A.N.T (Advanced Natural Talents) program, which means they’re headed straight for high school. While it might sound cool to be a musical prodigy when you’re only 11 years-old, there are plenty of obstacles in store for these gifted middle schoolers. Although the school work may be hard, and fitting in with the older students is harder, there is nothing these friends can’t tackle. The final season of the show takes it up a notch with a switch of the setting to a high-tech boarding school, and the series ends on a high-note with one of the characters taking a big leap to follow even bigger dreams.
Watch A.N.T Farm, rated TV-G, on Disney+. As Told By Ginger
Some kids would do anything to be popular, like Ginger, a pre-teen in middle school who struggles with normal issues. With her best buddies Dodie and Marcie by her social-climbing side, Ginger does her best to become a cool girl in the town of Shelter Shrubs City. From a lice scare to nerves about a school ski trip,
As Told By Ginger will bring you back to those adolescent highs and lows, as you follow along with one girl's quest to ditch her school geek status and emerge as Miss Popularity. The show combines those achy growing pains with a plenty of heart. Watch As Told By Ginger, rated TV-Y7 on Paramount+. Bella and the Bulldogs
Bella Dawson is the head cheerleader at her middle school with big dreams of playing on the football team. Not only does she become the star player, but she has to learn how to navigate the tricky social structure of her middle school once she assumes her new role. Luckily Bella still has her cheer-pals Pepper and Sophie to offer advice on navigating team dynamics and standing up to a bunch of boys who aren’t so keen on a girl who will smash the status quo.
Bella and the Bulldogs offers a great TV twist on gender stereotypes, and provides a reminder that not every girl wants to be a cheerleader on the sidelines. Some are destined to be the star quarterback. Watch Bella and the Bulldogs, rated TV-G, on Paramount+. Boy Meets World
Watch as Cory Matthews, his friends, family members, and long time school crush, Topanga, grow up and face a number of relatable problems in this beloved sitcom from the ‘90s. Starring Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel,
Boy Meets World is like opening up the brain of a typical preteen and watching all the contents tumble out. Big brother, Eric, and cool friend, Shawn, round out the cast that orbit an average kid figuring out who he is with the help of his loyal childhood buddies, supportive parents, and of course — favorite classroom teacher. This show will make you want to thank your former sixth grade teacher and wish that you had a Mr. Feeny in your own life. Watch Boy Meets World, rated TV-PG, on Disney+. The Fresh Beat Band
In this fun series, a group of friends attend middle school together and perform as the Fresh Beat Band. This series, geared towards pre-schoolers, encourages them to appreciate music and express themselves. It’s perfect for those little ones who are headed to school for the first time. Kiki, Shout, Marina, and Twist are best pals who make up the upbeat members of the Fresh Beat Band. Each episode opens with a song that foreshadows the problem the band will face and solve together. With a fresh blend of music, choreography, and teamwork, each half-hour show ends with the catchy bop, “Great Day.”
Watch The Fresh Beat Band, rated TV-Y, on Paramount+. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
When Will’s mom sends him away from his neighborhood in Philadelphia to live with his wealthy aunt and uncle in California, he learns that adjusting to his new life isn’t so easy. But it is pretty fun to shake things up a bit! Will’s fish-out-of-water take on school is pretty hilarious too. It’s impossible not to sing along to the infectious theme song sung by the lead actor, Will Smith, in his breakout TV role before moving on to big screen stardom. Alfonso Ribeiro plays Will’s geeky cousin Carlton, who may not be Mr. Cool, but can be credited for creating a nerdy dance that will live on for TV and pop culture eternity.
Watch The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, rated TV-G, on HBO Max. Hannah Montana
Miley Stewart is your average teen dealing with the woes of high school, except she has a secret — she moonlights as a pop star named Hannah Montana. Juggling between a high school outcast and world-known pop star isn’t easy, but Miley always seems to handle it in one way or another. And while moonlighting as a teen pop star isn’t too relatable, Miley nails what it’s like to rely on your friends in school. Starring Miley Cyrus in the role that first made her a star before she embarked on a sometimes scandalous singing career,
Hannah Montana will feed your fantasy of being a famous singer without having to actually dodge all of the pitfalls of celebrity. Watch Hannah Montana, rated TV-G, on Disney+. Hey Arnold!
Having a football shaped head and living with your offbeat grandparents isn’t typical. Just take it from Arnold, who gets relentlessly bullied in the hallways of his school, P.S. 118. Thankfully, he has his best friend Gerald by his side to make things much better.
Hey Arnold! captures growing up in a city so perfectly, it will make you wish you could grow up in his world. With five seasons and 100 episodes, this beloved kids TV show is hailed by fans across the world and even spun off into two Hey Arnold! movies, for both the big and little screen. Watch Hey Arnold!, rated TV-Y7, on Paramount+. High School Musical the Musical: The Series
The students of East High High School set out to put on their own production of
High School Musical, but typical school drama gets in the way of their production. Aspiring theater students, this show is for you. High School Musical: The Musical stars pop superstar, Olivia Rodrigo, as Nini Salazar-Robets, a music theater fanatic who shines like the bright star that she is in this mockumentary musical drama. This clever and entertaining series will have you laughing out loud and tapping your feet to the beat. A great option for loyal fans of the original High School Musical movies, or viewers who want a fresh take on all things Wildcats. Watch High School Musical the Musical: The Series, rated TV-PG, on Disney+. Kim Possible
Kim Possible is just your average high school cheerleader who happens to save the world from evil villains in her spare time. She makes high school and fighting crime look
so simple and like so much fun, even if you can’t relate. With a crew including her clumsy best friend and a potential love interest in Ron stoppable, there is nothing that Team Possible can’t overcome, including the mad scientist and super villain duo that Kim Possible must face as her evil nemeses. Set in a retro town of Middleton, Colorado, Kim Possible will win you over with her pompoms, endless appetite for adventure, and those cute and catchy phrases, like: “what’s the sitch?” Watch Kim Possible, rated TV-G, on Disney+. Lizzie McGuire
Find out what’s going on in pre-teen Lizzie McGuire’s head in this beloved Disney Channel series. Lizzie knows how tough middle school can get, and this show chronicles all of the ups and downs that come with growing up. Hillary Duff stars in the title role as the bubbly 13-year-old. Lizzie is an adored and accessible character who so many Duff fans grew up on and worshiped (although plans for the reboots have sadly been axed.) The show also features a cute animated version of the main character who performs monologues directly to the audience to express her inner goings-on and big feelings.
Watch Lizzie McGuire, rated TV-G, on Disney+. The Magic School Bus
Join Ms. Frizzle, the eccentric teacher, as she leads her classroom on major adventures with her magic school bus. Not only is the series super educational, but it will make your kids want a teacher just as great as Ms. Frizzle (voiced by legendary actor Lily Tomlin). This classic kiddo show from the ‘90s provides the perfect balance between education and entertainment. The
Magic School Bus is also based on the beloved books series of the same name, so you can hop over to your local library to pick up these great reads after your kids are already hooked on the show. Watch The Magic School Bus, rated TV-Y, on Netflix. Make It Pop
Three teenage girls with nothing in common, randomly selected to room together at their boarding school, decide to form a K-Pop inspired group. But soon, these bandmates and schoolmates discover that balancing everything isn’t easy. If your kid is obsessed with BTS, then they will definitely love this show. Follow along on the musical journey of Sun Hi, Jodi, and Corki as they rock Mackendrick Prep and study up on singing, friendship, and love. This Canadian show was created by Nick Cannon, who happens to know a thing or two about kiddo entertainment as a former child actor and dad to oodles of offspring too.
Watch Make It Pop, rated TV-G, on Paramount+. Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide
Ned Bigby shares all of his expert tips and tricks for surviving middle school with the rest of the world. If there is any problem that you might have with school, Ned certainly can help. With friends like Jennifer "Moze" Mosely, and Simon "Cookie" Nelson-Cook along for the bumpy ride through seventh grade, Ned learns how to navigate the tricky halls of junior high school. He tackles topics like popularity and getting good grades with humor, genuineness, and good fun. You’ll root for this spectacled underdog as he tries to figure out who kissed his name on the mystery “hottie list” in the bathroom, and when he tries to finagle himself into the coveted cool kids’ table at the cafeteria.
Watch Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide, rated TV-G, on Paramount+. Recess
Welcome to Third Street Elementary School, where the students have set up their own class system and set of unwritten laws, all which come out into practice on the playground. If you have a kid who would rather be outside than in the classroom, then this show is for them. But just because this show is animated, doesn’t mean you should dismiss it as a juvenile cartoon.
Recess contains some pretty sophisticated and satirical undertones, as the kids in this Little Rock, Arkansas school are actually a microcosm for larger society. The show provides some keen commentary on all the hullabaloo that goes down in systems of government, including a power-hungry sixth grader aptly named King Bob. Watch Recess, rated TV-Y7, on Disney+. Saved By The Bell
The popular and lovable Zack Morris is the schemer at Bayside High School. He, along with his friends, Slater, Kelly, Jessie, Lisa, and Screech, experience all that comes with being a student in this beloved sitcom from 1989. (There’s a very
memorable and melodramatic episode that went down as a legendary event in TV Pop Culture history when studious Jessie Spano battled a very unexpected caffeine pill addiction.) You’ll definitely wish you were living the California dream of going to high school in the Golden State where pranks against the students’ goofy principal Mr. Belding seem to happen on the daily. If your kids love anything vintage, then they will be obsessed with this show. Just look at the size of their phones! Watch Saved By The Bell, rated TV-G, on Peacock. School of Rock
This show, based on the awesome movie with the same name, focuses on a substitute teacher who inspires his students to form a secret rock band while learning lifelong lessons along the way. The sitcom takes place in the cool music town of Austin, Texas and will really appeal to artsy kids and rule-breakers who might prefer picking up an electric guitar to opening up a geometry textbook. With three jamming seasons and a super-talented cast of kids,
School of Rock is the perfect treat for anyone who wants to channel her inner musician. Because every student dreams of being in a band at some point. Watch School of Rock, rated TV-G, on Paramount+. Sister, Sister
IRL twins Tia and Tamera Mowry star in the iconic, groundbreaking sister series lauded for having a predominantly Black cast. The gist: two identical twins, separated at birth, discover each other and decide to live under the same roof with their totally opposite adoptive parents. While the twins look alike, they could not be any more different, which makes navigating school just a bit difficult. While Tia is more of a bookworm who comes from inner-city Detroit, Tamera is the boy-crazy type who hails from the suburbs. And who could forget the comic relief of their amorous neighbor Roger, who is equally obsessed with both sisters, despite their endless differences.
Watch Sister, Sister, rated TV-G, on Paramount+. Smart Guy
T.J. Henderson is a young genius who went straight from the 4th grade into high school. The 10-year-old has an IQ of 180, speaks several languages, and even has a photographic memory. While being a child prodigy might help T.J. land on the honor roll, his advanced brain still isn’t equipped to manage the complicated social dynamics and drama of temperamental teenagers. Luckily T.J. has his older (but not necessarily wiser) big brother around to teach him how to be more cool. He also has his chic big sister on his team to counsel him on surviving those awkward moments at Piedmont High.
Watch Smart Guy, rated TV-G, on Disney+. Shake It Up
Bella Thorne and Zendaya star as talented best friends with dreams of becoming professional dancers. CeCe and Rocky are two ambitious high school students who attend class by day, and appear on the TV show Shake It Up, Chicago! at night. This show is great for any kid with an extracurricular hobby that might distract them from their everyday lives. The girls learn to balance school and their budding careers with the support of their family and friends. If
Shake It Up’s theme song sounds familiar, that’s because it’s performed by fellow Disney child actor and breakout star, Selena Gomez! Watch Shake It Up, rated TV-G, on Disney+. Timothy Goes To School
Meet Timothy, an enthusiastic 5-year-old raccoon who is so excited to start school for the first time. Along with ten other animated animals, including an “upper-class” cat, a tomboy beaver, sulky mouse, and science-y skunk, Timothy learns how to thrive in the kindergarten at Hilltop school. Of course no classroom would be complete without a great teacher like Mrs. Jenkins, who just happens to be a fox sporting her signature red-rimmed glasses. This is the perfect series for kids wearing their brand new big backpacks, nervous about what is to come. The show is also based on the book series of the same name, so Timothy’s adventures and raccoon antics can make great bedtime stories too.
Watch Timothy Goes To School, rated TV-G, on Amazon Prime Video. Victorious
Victoria Justice plays the lead role in this popular TV show that takes you down the hallways of a performing arts school filled with plenty of melodrama. After years of living in her older sister’s shadow, Tori Vega gets her time to shine after being invited to attend Hollywood Arts, a high school for really talented kids. Not only does Tori have to find her inner confidence, but she has to find her place at the high school, too, which isn’t easy. Your music loving, Ariana Grande-obsessed tween will love watching this series from 2010. Although it’s hard to imagine a world (even a fictional high school world) where Grande wouldn’t be the main star, it’s kind of cool to watch the mini diva-in-training before she blew up to become one of the biggest singers in the world.
Watch Victorious, rated TV-G, on Paramount+. WITS Academy
Andi is the “Guardian of Students” at WITS Academy — the magic world’s most esteemed school for witches and wizards in training. She must prove that she can live up to the high expectations of being the academy’s only human Guardian. With a secret crush on a boy named Luke and a powerless witch named Ruby as her arch enemy, Andi will need all spells and potions she can get her hands on to make it through the ups and downs of this magical school. While WITS Academy might not exactly compare to the grandiosity of Hogwarts, fans of
Harry Potter books and movies are sure to enjoy this supernatural teen sitcom that is also a sequel to Every Witch Way. Watch WITS Academy, rated TV-G, on Paramount+. Zoey 101
Zoey Brooks and her younger brother, Dustin, are students at Pacific Coast Academy — a super cool boarding school on the coast of California. Originally a campus that only accepted boys, everything changes when girls are allowed to enroll, and of course romance fills the Malibu air. While going to class so close to the ocean might sound like a dream come true, Zoey, her brother, and their group of friends have to deal with everyday teen issues while living at the same place they go to school. Just don’t be surprised when your kid starts asking if they can attend Pacific Coast Academy.
Watch Zoey 101, rated TV-G, on Paramount+.
While there’s probably not a single kid who is excited to get back to tests and homework, hopefully these great family movies will offer your little ones some smiles, and much-needed reminders that school’s not so bad after all. After all, lunch and recess are usually pretty fun!
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This article was originally published on
Aug. 3, 2021