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Free and paid at-home education resources
Keep your kids busy and engaged while home from school.
With many schools closed across the country in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, parents are left wondering how to structure their children’s days at home. It’s important to note that any at-home education you might work on with your kids won’t officially count toward their progress in school — unless you’ve gone through the necessary steps to legally homeschool your child.
However, keeping your kids engaged and on a schedule while schools are shut down can be beneficial to their overall development, not to mention help keep you and your family sane while stuck at home. Fortunately, there are a number of free educational resources now available that parents and children can access online.
Where to find at-home education resources
1. Check the school’s website
Start by touching base with your child’s teachers, principal and school website to see if online learning packets or other materials are available. Many districts also provide at-home education tips and grade-by-grade lesson plans for parents.
2. Use free education websites
In addition to the various free online learning resources that have always been available, many formerly paid subscription options are now being offered for free. Below are just a few free online educational resources you can use.
- Book Creator App
- Ascend Math
- Voces Digital
- Big History Project
3. Watch webinars online
Lots of creative webinars, podcasts and other learning opportunities are now available for free online. A few children’s authors and artists even offer virtual programs to help keep kids occupied and engaged:
- Mo Willems: “Doodles” webinar
- Jarrett Krosocka: “Draw Everyday” webinar
- Keri Smith: Daily exploration prompts on website and Instagram
Khan Academy and Mystery Science also have lots of instructional videos available on their websites for free.
4. Take virtual field trips
Just because you’re stuck inside doesn’t mean you and your kids can’t still explore the world. Google Arts & Culture has over 2,000 museums available online for you to visit virtually. Check out these virtual tours of everything from zoos to museums:
- San Diego Zoo
- Cincinnati Zoo
- Yellowstone National Park
- Mars Curiosity Rover
- Louvre Museum
- Great Wall of China
- British Museum
5. Check out e-books
Give these free electronic resources a try.
- Epic! Reading App: Ask your teacher or school librarian to give you free remote access.
- SimplyE: Use your New York Public Library card to access.
- Project Gutenburg
- Magic Keys
- Gateway to the Classics
- Oxford Owl
- Amazon’s Free Kids eBooks
At-home education tips for parents
- Set a schedule. Part of the benefit of “homeschooling” your kids while they’re away from school is keeping them on a set schedule. Map out daily and weekly plans to keep everyone on track and prevent boredom. There are lots of free sample schedules available online. Or make your own based on your family’s specific needs.
- Start with one subject. You don’t have to knock out your kid’s entire school curriculum the first day they’re home. Pick one subject that your child enjoys or needs extra help with on Day 1, have an age-appropriate lesson and then take a break. Build upon your progress each day, lengthening or shortening individual lessons or schoolwork hours as you see fit.
- Tailor lesson durations to different age groups. A 6-year-old isn’t going to sit still and pay attention for an hour straight, but your middle-school student should be able to. Schedule lessons in bite-size chunks throughout the day to keep children engaged.
- Incorporate bedtime reading into your routine. At-home learning doesn’t always have to be formal. Bedtime reading is a great way to incorporate reading and writing skills into your child’s day in a relaxed environment, while encouraging imagination and creativity.
- Let screen time double as educational time. Take advantage of the many informational, yet entertaining documentaries, movies, shows and other material available on Netflix, YouTube and other platforms.
So many free online at-home education resources are now available to help parents and kids. Take this as an opportunity to spend quality time with your kids that you wouldn’t otherwise have. And if you’re looking for even more inspiration, you’ll find tons of ideas on the related Reddit forum.
Thinking of making the switch to online school permanent? Compare your options with our guide to K–12 online education.
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