While some families have been knee-deep in the waters of school-at-home for the past two weeks, many families are just gearing up to begin as their official “spring breaks” come to an end.
For parents figuring out how to balance their everyday lives while teaching their kids, virtual resources can be the real MVPs. Many sites have stepped up during this time to offer more (and free!) resources during a time when most of the country is at home.
The following are tried and true resources I used with my own students during my years as a classroom teacher, and I have a feeling they might help you out right now, too!
1. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is probably the most resource comprehensive on this list, as it covers a crazy amount of educational topics for kids ages 2 to 18. I especially recommend Khan Academy to parents who are struggling to teach their big kids challenging math concepts. Students can pick videos on every topic to watch and rewatch, which will save you from pulling out your hair when you’re not quite sure how to explain (or—let’s be real—do) the work.
BrainPop was the student-favorite in my classroom when I was teaching. The site has thousands of short, easy to understand videos covering topics for grades K-12. Many of the videos are followed by a quick quiz to check understanding. The site covers science, social studies, English, math, engineering, technology, health, art, and music. AKA, everything. Bonus, the site is currently offering free access for students impacted by school closures (which is just about everyone at this point).
3. National Geographic Kids
This site is less standards-based than some of the others, but there is a whole lot of learning to be done on it. Kids can learn interesting facts about all things animals and nature, find fun science experiments to try, test their knowledge in a quiz, play brain games, and even learn kid-sized facts about Coronavirus. It’s a great filler-resource for kids who need a fun break from their worksheet packets.
4. ABC Mouse
ABC Mouse is the champion of early childhood education virtual resources. This app can be used via computer, tablet, or phone, and can be customized for each individual child in the family, depending on their ages and levels. This is another resource that covers a wide range of subjects, from literacy to math to social skills.
5. Math Playground
This site is exactly what it sounds like—a place where kids can play games that correspond to the math concepts they’re learning in school. With concepts covering first through sixth grades, this site was a favorite of my students. Plus, it’s a great way for you to sneak a much-needed coffee break and still feel like the kids are learning. That’s a BIG win.
In a technology-based world, this is a relevant and exciting STEM-focused learning tool. The site is intended for students from elementary school through high school, and your kids will enjoy it so much they won’t even realize that what they’re really doing is becoming masters of computer science. While the activities might not directly correspond with the standards your kids are learning in school, there’s no denying their educational importance.
7. PBS Kids
There’s a lot to do on this site, but its real shining asset is the parent newsletter you can sign up for, which will deliver daily activities and tips for home learning straight to your inbox.
If you’re looking for a resource for all things literacy, ReadWriteThink is arguably the most comprehensive one out there. It’s chock full of lesson plans, activities, games, and tips for students of all ages—as well as the parents stepping up to teach them.
This site offers hundreds (thousands?) of free printable worksheets for kids of all ages. While the resources are mostly for math, some do touch on skills like reading comprehension. This is a great support resource if you find that your kid needs more practice with a skill he or she is learning. The site is offering even more free eWorkbooks than usual right now in light of school closures.
You might just think of YouTube as the hub for funny cat videos, but don’t underestimate its educational value for helping you teach your kids. Just about any concept you can imagine can be found with a quick search. During my time as a teacher, some of my favorite searches were “Bill Nye the Science Guy” reruns and “Liberty’s Kids” (for teaching U.S. history).
The sudden upheaval of your kids’ normal school life isn’t without its challenges, but you can and will get through this homeschooling phase . . . and you might even look back on it fondly one day.
P.S. Looking for an awesome resource you can depend on even when technology is misbehaving? The Ultimate Book of Homeschooling Ideas is just that, with over 500 activities to try with your crew.