The coronavirus is flying around the world and spreading pretty quickly, and that means that cities, states, and countries are reacting.
For a lot of parents, part of that reaction has meant the closure of schools.
On one hand, closing schools is a great idea. Right now, it’s believed that children don’t suffer many of the more severe symptoms of COVID-19, but they could also be transmitting the disease without realizing it. So the logic behind closing schools seems to be that kids won’t be around one another, sharing all their coronavirus germs.
There are downsides, though. In the United States, a lot of kids rely on going to school to have regular meals and access to technology.
Also, now that kids are home, many parents have to figure out what the heck to do with them during that time.
Some kids are being sent home with devices and are expected to work on schoolwork. Others, though, aren’t. But if you do have a phone, laptop, or tablet, you can use it to connect to online educational resources that can keep your kids engaged in the world around them, even if they aren’t in school.
1. For languages: italki, Mango, and Duolingo
Our son actually takes language classes online through italki.com. I love this platform because it allows you to connect with native speakers of many languages, and they live all over the world. Plus, you can search for teachers based on the budget you have. If you want to pay $7.50 for 30 minutes of a language class, you can do that.
Right now, my son takes French from a Haitian man who lives in Brazil and Spanish from a woman who lives in Mexico. It’s super cool!
We also supplement his classes with the Mango Languages app. Some libraries allow their patrons to use the app for free, and it’s definitely worth looking into. If you can’t get it for free, Duolingo is a great alternative.
2. History on YouTube: Crash Course and Crash Course Kids
Two great resources that are available totally for free are the YouTube channels Crash Course and Crash Course Kids. Both are produced by the same team, and they put a tremendous amount of effort into making thoughtful history videos for kids and adults. I think children of all ages would like either channel, but know that the Crash Course channel definitely moves quickly. After all, there’s a lot to cover in 20 minutes or less!
3. Tour museums around the world (for free)
A friend shared a great list of museums that allow you to “tour” their sites online totally free of charge. There’s nothing like visiting a museum to open up your child’s mind to the rest of the world, and online tours are nearly as good as the real thing. Here are the museums that are definitely on the list:
4. Use Outschool to take a class on pretty much anything
Another website we loooove in our home is Outschool. You can take classes on pretty much anything, and you can also bank on the classes being fun and engaging. My son has taken science classes that somehow incorporate Pokemon, poetry classes, and even Dungeons and Dragons classes on the site. There’s usually something for everyone. Some of the classes run in weeks-long blocks, but there are also plenty that are single days.
5. Load up on podcasts
Podcasts are a really fun way to engage in new information. A few of our favorites include:
6. Brush up on math skills
Last summer, I signed my son up for an account with Elephant Learning. The service is usually $30/month, but it also offers income-based scholarships and can work with you to a pretty great degree on the rate. The whole objective is that kids do only 10 minutes of math a day, but it still helps them keep their skills sharp. If your kid wants to do more than 10 minutes, you can change the timer manually.
7. Learn e v e r y t h i n g on Khan Academy
Khan Academy is truly a gift that keeps on giving. The online platform has courses in nearly every subject you can think of, and they’re all free. Your kids can navigate and learn about math, science, history … there’s so much out there. Everything is aligned with educational standards, which should keep your kids on task with their schoolwork.
8. Go to college!
It might come as a surprise, but a lot of universities actually have a good bit of free classes available online. If your older and/or advanced kids are looking for a challenge, they might find one:
Oooh, Teachers Pay Teachers is one of my favorite resources when I’m looking for everything from lesson plans to flashcards to fun one-off activities for my son. You can sort lessons by grade, subject, and price (there are actually tons of free activities). You will need a printer to print out everything you download — as far as I know, none of the activities are digital.
10. Engage NY
Engage NY is an amazing resource out of New York state. It offers free language arts and math printouts for kids who are in grades preschool through 12, and you can match the printouts with other resources online. For example, a good friend shared that she downloads the math printouts from Engage NY and then pairs them with math videos from teacher Duane Habecker.