With schools and local libraries closing due to COVID-19, you maybe worried that your child’s education has stopped. But that doesn’t have to be the case, as there are tons of online (and predominantly free) learning resources available.
The online learning resources we found cover all of the major topics taught in school, such as science, English, math, history, typing, art, reading, music, coding, and physical education. Although they aren’t meant to replace your child’s in-school curriculum, they are more than capable of engaging your children’s brains, teaching them new things, and keeping them productively busy until schools can resume normal function.
How Can You Help Your Kids Learn At Home?
As a parent or guardian, there are a few ways in which you can ensure your kids get the most out of these resources:
- First, help them understand what the coronavirus is, and that even though they don’t have to physically go to school for the time being, learning is still important and something they can continue at home.
- Second, ensure they have a quiet dedicated area that they can study in without any distractions. Make do with what you have, of course, but definitely opt for a spare bedroom or nook away from high-traffic areas (like the kitchen table) if you can.
- Third, set up a daily schedule for learning, just like they would have at school. This helps them know what to expect each day, and that you are taking their at-home education seriously.
- Fourth, be there to answer any questions your kids may have, and to provide praise and encouragement as needed. Your child may be nervous about learning and using new programs outside of school, and your support goes a long way.
- Finally, remember to give your children ample breaks for exercise, naps, and snacks. Even if you aren’t a teacher by occupation, you can still help your kids learn while at home by fostering a comfortable learning environment for them.
The Best Online Educational Resources for Your Kids
The content on the majority of these websites is broken down into categories based on age, grade, or skill level. We recommend that you take a minute to see how each site works, then explain it to your child so they know what to do. Many of these programs also offer at least basic performance reports, which makes it easy for you to review what your child worked on and see the areas in which they could make improvements.
The Closest Thing to a Classroom: Khan Academy (Grades K-12)
If it’s important for you to recreate something similar to what they’re used to in school, Khan Academy (Free) is absolutely your best bet. The website has long been a place where students can go for supplemental lessons in all major school subjects, and it’s stepping up to the plate to help continue education during COVID-19. This online academy covers math (early math to AP calculus), science (physics, chemistry, and biology), history (U.S., world, civics, government, and politics), coding (programming, computer science, and animation), English (grammar and storytelling), art history, economics (macro/microeconomics, finance, and capital markets), and even a variety of test preparation. They also offer Khan Kids, a learning app for kids ages 2 to 7, that focuses on math, reading, and social and emotional learning.
Khan Academy has posted a learning schedule for all grades, from Kindergarten through the 12th grade. This schedule is meant to help parents who are unsure of how to keep their kids in a learning routine and mind-set. It offers a suggestion on a student’s average day, including when to wake up, learn lessons on Khan Academy (broken down by grade), take breaks, and practice new skills. You can stick to it, or let it help inspire your own schedule.
Grade-School General Education: E-Learning for Kids (Grades K-6)
E-learning for kids (Free) is a non-profit organization source for online childhood learning. Its courses cover math, science, environmental skills, computer skills, health, language arts, and life skills. On the site, kids can select their grade level (which ranges from kindergarten through 6th grade), then choose one of the many lessons. Colorful visuals and game-like interaction help your kids learn new information in a fun way.
Movement and Momentum: GoNoodle (Grades K-5)
If you need a way to ensure your little ones stay engaged during the day and burn off some of their extra energy, GoNoodle (Free) has your back. It combines educational tunes with simple movement exercises like “Think Like a Scientist” and “Poppin’ Bubbles.” The site is colorful and easy enough for kids to navigate, plus it offers tons of options for exciting songs as well as more relaxed tunes aimed at improving focus and relaxing.
Animals, Science, and Geography: National Geographic Kids (Grades K-6)
National Geographic Kids (Free) has videos and other simple educational articles about science, geography, and (cute) animals. The website has a colorful design, making it fun for kids of all ages to browse. They can also learn facts about different types of animals, watch videos, play games, and even learn about other subjects like space and U.S. states. While the website doesn’t offer substantive course-like content, it’s full of small games and informational blurbs that your kids can enjoy between daily lessons or just for fun.
Learn Science with the Science Guy: BillNye.com (Grades K-6)
Just as Bill Nye taught science to millennial kids 25 years ago, Bill Nye.com (Free) is helping everyone’s favorite Science Guy continue to teach bite-size science lessons to kids today. On the website, you can find links to his books and documentary, along with science facts from his TV show episodes and several exciting DIY science experiments you can try with your kids. Each experiment lists out instructions and necessary ingredients.
Read Books: Sesame Street, Rivet, and the International Children’s Digital Library (Grades K-6)
Tons of websites have made children’s books available for free, so your child can easily keep reading. A bunch of new Sesame Street eBooks (Free) are now available for your young kids. If you want a larger variety, Rivet (Free) offers leveled books, so you can easily find the appropriate books for your child’s grade or reading level. The app lets your child highlight a word to hear how it’s pronounced, and offers rewards for all the reading they complete. And, the International Children’s Digital Library offers unique and engaging children’s literature from around the world.
Music Lessons: TakeLessons.com (Grades K-12)
If your child wants to learn how to play an instrument (and you happen to have an instrument tucked away in a closet), or if you want your child to have a way to continue lessons during this quarantine, using a service like TakeLessons.com is a solid option for either situation.
Lessons prices vary by teacher, instrument, and lesson length, but generally seem to start as low as $30 per lesson. You can see the photos and profiles of all available teachers on the website, which includes their rating, credentials, experience, availability, and lesson pricing before choosing.
Art Lessons: Sparketh and Udemy (Grades K-12)
Of course, you don’t need to pay for your kids to do art, but if you think they might benefit from some guided projects or tutorials for more advanced concepts, we found a couple of great choices. Sparketh ($200/yr) offers up over 1,000 videos taught by talented instructors, and you can sort through courses according to length, focus, and skill level.
The annual subscription covers two separate student accounts, which is great if you have multiple kids. Another option are the myriad courses over at Udemy. These art courses vary in price depending on the specific topic, but tend to range between $20 to $200. Udemy purchases give you access to the course for life, and you can sort courses by skill level, duration, and topic.
Learn to Type: Typing.com (Grades K-12)
Knowing how to touch-type is a necessary skill in today’s world, but learning how doesn’t have to be boring. With Typing.com (Free), your kids can gradually learn how to type with beginning, intermediate, and advanced typing lessons, tests, and games. They can even earn badges and achievements as they progress so it feels fun, not like a chore.
Learn to Code: Code.org (Grades K-12)
Computers aren’t just the future anymore—they’re the present. By helping your kids learn how to code, they’re learning a valuable skill they can eventually turn into a career or enjoy as a hobby. Sites like Code.org (Free) are committed to teaching kids about computer science. They even make it extra fun by offering themed Hour of Code introductory tutorials for dance parties, Minecraft, and astronomy.
Watch Educational Lectures: TED Talks (Grade 6+)
For older kids (and, okay, for adults, too), TED Talks (Free) are a great way to learn new concepts directly from professionals. Fun videos let you learn about the sciences, humanities, and all the fascinating things in between, with speakers’ stories of adventure, sadness, and triumph. Not only are TED Talks a great way to pass time, they have a way of answering many of the little questions you’ve always wondered about, like “Why Doesn’t the Leaning Tower of Pisa Fall Over?” or “Who Was the World’s First Author?”
A Few Words Before You Go…
Of course, having schools open under regular conditions is easier for everyone, but there is still plenty your kids can learn at home in the meantime. Helping your children learn at home is easier than you think, and remember: you don’t have to be a professional teacher to teach your kids new things. With the help of these resources and a little creativity on your end, you can keep education in your kids’ day-to-day lives even when COVID-19 subsides.