19 Free Homeschooling Resources & Tips To Help The Entire Family
More than 300 million students worldwide aren't attending school right now thanks to the coronavirus, according to the Cato Institute. And while preventing the virus from spreading is important, parents are now left trying to figure out how to teach their child at home. Luckily, every parent is in this situation together, and compiling homeschooling tips and free resources is a must for getting through it all.
So, what's a working or stay-at-home parent to do now that they're also a teacher to one or more children? Richard Peterson, CFE and chief academic officer at Kiddie Academy Educational Childcare, recommends the following in an interview with Romper:
- Make sure you set everyone up for success by having supplies, meals and an activity schedule ready for the day.
- Have lunch time outside if it’s nice out! It’s a great opportunity for fresh air for both of you before jumping back into work mode.
- Set up “office space” adjacent to your own, which would include similar supplies: glue, tape, safety scissors, markers, etc. Your child could then work alongside you on schoolwork and planned activities. By having their own “office space,” they would not be encroaching on yours.
- Plan ahead the night before so you aren’t rushing in the morning trying to plan out activities between emails and calls. Similar to how things are run in an office, try mapping out the day to keep your little ones occupied during work hours.
But what to put on your student's school-day schedule? Fortunately, there are plenty of free educational resources available online.
Make an account on TeachStarter.com and search any subject to find free, downloadable resources for kids in pre-K through sixth grade. The site includes blog posts explaining how to use the resources so you're not having to wing it. Search "home learning" in the search bar, and you'll find prepared packets for school closures, as well as home learning "inquiries" that prompt your child to create a budget for a family trip, research a different culture, or write a comedy sketch.
2. 'The New York Times'
For kids 13 years and older, The New York Times is offering daily and weekly writing prompts to help students with their argumentative essay skills. Students can sign up for free and write responses to questions relevant to them, like, "Should parents track their children?" They'll also have the chance to reply to illustrations and photographs to practice some good old analysis.
3. Scholastic Learn At Home
Scholastic is offering free online resources to support families through school closures. Their library of lessons includes 20 days of learning for kids in pre-K through third grade, with three hours of content for each day. This site is a great way to help your kids learn interesting new things, and also take care of a big chunk of the school day.
If your middle or high schooler is missing out on their foreign language classes, they don't have to fall behind. Duolingo is a free site and app that offers lessons in Spanish, French, German, English, and lots of other languages. When your kiddo creates an account, they can take a placement quiz so the site can pick up where their teacher left off.
5. Take Virtual Field Trips
Commonsense.org compiled a list of the highest rated virtual field trip apps and websites. Whether it's through virtual reality, interactive slideshows, or personal interviews, these platforms try to recreate visits to historical sites and museums for students at home. Or simply Google virtual tours, and you can find links to roam the International Space Station, "walk" through the White House, and see the Sistine Chapel.
6. Khan Academy
Khan Academy is super popular among homeschooling families, and for good reason. It's a nonprofit, totally free site that focuses on providing high-quality lessons for kids K through 12. They cover all topics, from science and math to art and history, and even standardized test prep. You can even match up the curriculum with your state's standards.
7. Find Celebrity Read-Alongs
If you need a break from reading to your kids, maybe a celeb will do it? Authors, actors, singers, and more familiar faces are adding their scheduled readings and where to find them to this Google Doc, created by literacy advocate Olivia Van Ledtje. Others more are tweeting the same info to the hashtag #kidlitquarantine. Romper is hosting "Operation Storytime" with countless resources for parents and kids to choose from. There's also Storyline, which offers tons of recordings of authors reading their best-selling children's books.
8. Audiobooks & Podcasts
Spotify and Apple Podcasts have thousands (maybe more) of podcasts to choose from that can help your older kids learn, well, just about anything. Streaming service Pinna is also offering families two months for free. Their platform focuses on educational content for children ages 3 to 12. Just sign up, use the promo code PINNA4KIDS, and press play.
9. Camp Wonderopolis
Camp Wonderopolis is all about practicing STEM concepts while working on literacy. Kids work their way through camp (there are five differently themed camps, so you won't run out quickly) and earn badges as they ace modules. It's an interactive way to learn that feels like a computer game, but has a little more educational value than Fortnite.
10. Prodigy Math
Prodigy Math is here to save parents from having to remember exactly how long division with the FOIL method works. It's a free, online math program that has your child create a character, face math, and earn rewards as they "play." There is a paid version to help you assess their progress and test their skills if you decide to really dive in.
If you need to wear the wiggles out of your child while still practicing social distancing, GoNoodle has your back. This free site is loaded with games and active-time videos meant to help with your kids' energy levels. Little kids and big kids alike can try Zumba, meditation, living room-friendly sports, and more.
13. Chrome Music Lab
Is your little pupil missing their music class? Chrome Music Lab offers interactive, colorful, online lessons in rhythm, harmonics, melody, and more. It's the perfect indoor elective for having fun while social distancing. They can even save and share the songs they create with friends and family.
Newsela helps kids work on their literacy using real news articles about current events. The platform turns one article into five depending on reading and maturity levels, so students are learning new vocab and practicing reading comprehension while brushing up on current events. Normally there are free and paid versions of Newsela, but the entire service will be available free for the remainder of the school year.
While you're creating lesson plans, why not work in some coding? It's one of the most in-demand job skills today, and Codecademy offers free access to basic lessons in web development, data science, and design. You can purchase a paid version if your child really enjoys it and needs more advanced instruction.
TED‐Ed is basically an online vault of talks by experts in all areas of science, language, history, math, and more. You can watch by video, see them in a series, or create a video-based lesson for the day. If your child is practicing their presentation skills, they can also create their own TED Talk.
17. Marginal Revolution University
Your high schooler may not love economics, but it's important nonetheless. Marginal Revolution University offers a more exciting version of your standard econ class thanks to dynamic videos and interesting ways of presenting economic concepts. You may even learn something, too!
18. Virtually Visit Zoos & Aquariums
Hoping to teach your kids some environmental science? Check the live feeds at some of the nation's largest zoos and aquariums to see what the animals there are up to. Watching the fish gather in the coral reef at Monterey Bay Aquarium could be a great starting point for a project on how coral affects the environment. Or, let your little one pick a favorite zoo animal and write an essay about their diet, habitat, and behaviors in the wild.
19. Teach Them Something About Life
While helping your kids keep up with their schooling is super important, you may also decide to make time for lessons they wouldn't normally get on a weekday. If you have a teen at home, maybe you could involve them in doing your taxes or monthly family budgeting. Littles might enjoy helping you prepare a meal in the kitchen, or learning to garden in the backyard. Let them practice iPhone photography with some simple online tutorials to guide them. Whatever you choose, as long as you're enriching your child's mind and spending time together, perhaps the mathematics can wait an hour.