10 Back-to-School Podcasts for a “New Normal” Time | Kidcasts

These podcasts for elementary through high school students address emotions, kindness, mindfulness, choices, bullying, homework, and being the new kid at school.



This playlist aims to promote well-being and belonging during this “new normal’ back-to-school time, with episodes about emotions, kindness, mindfulness, choices, bullying, homework, and being the new kid at school. The stories remind us that learning may not have looked like we wanted it to look last year. But it was not altogether a year lost; it was a year of learning anew.

Kidcasts: Back-to-School Playlist

Circle Round, Growing Courage featuring Kyla Pratt
Ages 5+–When you hear the word courage, what comes to mind? Is it walking into a classroom for the first time? On each episode of Circle Round, host Rebecca Sheir narrates folktales and fairytales from around the world that can help us process universal emotions. “Growing Courage” is an Ethiopian story featuring actress Kyla Pratt. The story is about Liana, a fearful girl who is even afraid of her own shadow. Liana’s grandfather tells her that the only way to become brave is to practice facing your fears so your courage can grow bigger. It’s a lesson we can all use.

Girl Tales, Una Had a Unicorn
Ages 5-8–This show gives fairy and folk tales a feminist twist. In this episode, Una and her friend encounter the consequences of school rules. It offers young listeners a great way to talk about school re-entry and new rules schools may have in place this year. Differing perspectives highlight how some kids who are naturally rule-followers and how others are more comfortable with rule negotiation. And there’s a unicorn friend at the center of it all.

Best Day Yet, You Focus on the Good
Ages 5-10–A cheery podcast filled with ideas on how to be kind, created by Marjorie Stordeur. It teaches mindfulness skills through positive affirmations and guided meditations. Best Day Yet’s “Power” episodes focus on a specific tool to help kids persevere through hard times. This one centers on how to practice looking for good aspects of situations. It’s a valuable mindset for kids entering new classes and situations who are unsure of what to expect.

Project Ari, Mission 1: Make Friends
Ages 7-11– A robot named Ari is trying to become a human boy in this audio drama written by Nat Amoore. This first episode is an entertaining take on how to meet new friends and classmates and is ideal for students for whom that’s a struggle. Kids will like the artificial intelligence angle, sound effects, and cast of animated voice actors. Teachers and caregivers will enjoy the clever writing and lessons. It also includes information and a guide on how to respectfully communicate: respect.gov.au/talking-about-respect.

Short & Curly, Should We Always Be Brave?
Ages 9-12–What is the difference between being brave, courageous, and reckless? This ethics show invites listeners to think and talk about situations they’ve encountered and how they handled them. Hosts Molly and Carl, along with kids, discuss whether it would be “brave” to eat some stinky fish offered by friends from Sweden. This episode will inspire conversations as kids encounter situations prompting them to be brave, courageous, and reckless this fall.

Ooh You’re In Trouble, I’m Not Doing My Homework
Ages 10-14–This entertaining show features real-life stories of children getting in trouble. Here, teenager Amani shares a story about being overcommitted. She loves the TV show High School Musical and thinks she can juggle lots of activities like the characters do, but runs into trouble. Host Merk Nguyen guides listeners through the stories, performed by actors, and fun audio production brings the trouble to life. The show also considers dilemmas such as, “Is it ever ok to just not turn in your homework?” and, “What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?”

We Got You, Do Not Diminish Yourself to Fit In
Ages 10-14–In this podcast, older kids give younger kids advice they wished they’d received. This episode is from early 2021, when some students around the country were heading back to in-person school, but it resonates now, too, with advice on how to be yourself. In this episode, Haerin shares her story about trying to fit in, offering kids the great advice that sharing your culture and differences with others can bring new, healthy friendships and relationships. Kids love listening to other kids, and here, they bring their authentic selves to the table.

Tai Asks Why, What’s Happening in my Teenage Brain?
Ages 12-17–This podcast answers listener-submitted questions, and “What’s Happening in my Teenage Brain?” looks at current research with neuroscientist Juliet Davidow, author of The Teenage Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Survival Guide to Raising Adolescents and Young Adults and creator of the Learning and Brain Lab at Northeastern University. Teen host Tai Poole brings a personal take and insightful interview questions.

Mic Drop, Alex Connects the Dots
Ages 12-17–This Peabody-nominated show shares teen stories directly, and this story is a powerful one. Alex shares her feelings about her mental health diagnosis and struggles with the associated stigma. She finds strength, comfort, and connection talking with her friends on the subject. Many will identify with Alex’s journey and her own opportunity for discovery, growth, and understanding. Note: We recommend that tweens and teens listen to this episode with a grownup in order to discuss terms they may not be familiar with, such as neurodiversity, anxiety, ADHD, and dyslexia.

Girls Make Beats, Mental Health Awareness!
Ages 12-17–This empowering podcast, produced by girls for girls, is an awe-inspiring addition to the audio space. Girls Makes Beats is a nonprofit that aims to increase the presence of female music producers, DJs, and audio engineers by offering girls ages 5 to 17 opportunities to learn the profession. According to its website, women make up only 2 percent of music producers and 3 percent of audio engineers. In this episode, youth hosts, DJ Sparkle, DJ JuJu, and DJ Royal Blue talk mental health awareness, why it’s important, and how young people are coping through the pandemic. They discuss educational music terms and inspiring songs they’d like to add to the Girls Make Beats Spotify featured playlist. Note: Some of the songs have explicit language but are labeled as such. We recommend that tweens and teens listen to this episode with a grownup if they aren’t familiar with mental health terms and diagnoses.

In addition to these productions, consider other trusted sources from the public sphere. PRX/TRAX, the nonprofit public radio exchange, is supporting communities and families with campaigns that help families connect with audio, offering Mental Health and back-to-school resources and playlists.

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