Unfortunately, coronavirus disease has many families scrambling to help their kids through an extended time of no school and no in-person time with their friends.
As quarantine periods are extended across the country, many resources are available online for free that usually cost money to access. And people are compiling popular homeschooling resources and sharing ideas for how to keep our kids occupied, happy and calm during the quarantine.
Free Online Learning Tools and Resources
During the pandemic, you can access many websites and video courses for free. Others may require a subscription, which you can opt into if you prefer.
Fun, educational online resources available include:
- BrainPOP is offering free access to its educational videos and assessments during the quarantine
- PBS Kids has a variety of activities, games and tips available for parents and kids to explore
- PBS LearningMedia has curated lesson plans, videos, interactives and more for parents and teachers
- Scholastic set up a free Learn at Home website for pre-kindergarten to sixth grade or above
- SmartMusic, a company that makes music education software, is offering free access to practice tools through June
- The Brooklyn Public Library will be live-streaming a virtual story hour every weekday
- The California Science Center is offering a library of experiments for kids with Stuck at Home Science
- The Cincinnati Zoo is live-streaming the days of some of its animals via “Home Safari” videos, including information about the animals and activities that families can do with kids at home
- The Los Angeles Public Library has a list of e-books for kids
Online Curricula for Homeschooling
If you’re looking for something more structured for your kids during a quarantine period, you might consider buying a subscription to a homeschooling curriculum. You’ve got a lot of options to choose from that range from simple and open-ended to highly structured.
BusyToddler offers some free resources for toddler learning and activities, along with two entire preschool curricula. They’re offering a steep quarantine discount. These are play-based curricula that can be done with things you already have around the house.
Khan Academy provides a free video library of lessons on a variety of subjects covering kindergarten through early college. They have also created guides and links to additional resources, such as sample daily schedules, for parents who are dealing with school at home during the quarantine.
Khan Academy Kids is an interactive learning app for younger children ages 2 through 7 that’s aligned with common core standards.
Discovery K12 is a homeschool platform that offers complete, free online curricula for pre-kindergarten through grade 12 in multiple subjects, like visual and performing arts and physical education.
Amazing Educational Resources
Amazing Educational Resources hosts a massive spreadsheet with links to numerous learning resources online, including virtual museum tours, educational apps, free online magazines and more.
Make Time for Fun Activities That Inspire Learning
All learning doesn’t have to be curricula-based. Help kids have fun — and still learn lots — in a coronavirus quarantine period in plenty of ways.
Spark ideas with a writing prompt. Author Kate DiCamillo is offering writing prompts every week on YouTube. Keri Smith, who wrote the “Wreck This Journal” series, is posting daily exploration prompts on her website. Illustrator Carson Ellis is providing these illustration prompts on Instagram.
Your kids can also practice their writing skills by writing letters. Stay in touch with friends and family by encouraging children to write letters to them and mailing them. They can also write poems, make drawings or print out and send photos. They’ll learn valuable writing skills while staying socially connected.
Set Up Arts and Crafts
Amp up arts and crafts time at home with the kids. The options are endless. Use paper and tape to create buildings and towns. Make sock puppets and put on a puppet show. Make playdough, slime or goop. Try finger painting or pudding painting. The sky’s the limit.
You can also get crafty with cardboard. The possibilities are endless with cardboard boxes. Turn one into a boat, car or plane and pretend to travel the world. Make an obstacle course with boxes, pillows and furniture. Build a fort out of cardboard boxes or make a puppet stage — the ideas are endless.
Create Sensory Playtime
Try fun sensory play in the bathtub or bin using shaving cream, bubbles or washable finger paints. Have a toy car wash in the tub or give all the plastic animals a bath.
Additionally, a plastic tub filled with rice or sand and small toys gives your kids hours of fun digging through with fingers, sand shovels or spoons to turn up buried treasures.
Get Cooking Together
Cooking with your kids has educational benefits you might not have thought of at first. Your kids can learn math (adding portioned ingredients) while you make a nutritious meal from scratch, and you’ll keep your meal plans moving smoothly. Try baking a new recipe together or an old family favorite.
Play a Game Together
Bust out board games and puzzles to keep kids entertained — and learning. Bring back family game night, any time of day. Chess, checkers, jigsaw puzzles, cards and board games can all provide boredom relief and teach strategy and math skills.
How to Plan and Structure Your Days at Home
Having a routine that you follow every day, even loosely, can help maintain a feeling of normalcy and calm for kids, who are under stress due to the changes in their lives. Keep to regular wake-up and bedtimes, mealtimes and scheduled screen time. You might also want to include chore time, reading time, alone time and art time.
Also, consider having a regular social time for video chatting with friends and family. This will help maintain strong connections despite everyone being home.
Make sure to include physical activity in every day. Even better if you can be active outside — fresh air is important for health and well-being. Go for a walk, hike or bike ride with your kids.
Designate a Space for Learning
If you live in a small space, all you really need is a flat surface like a kitchen or dining room table. But if you have the room, consider setting up a dedicated desk or area at the table for your kids to sit and work. Having one area for learning and schoolwork can help them focus.
How to Prioritize Learning During an Extended Break From School
The most important thing right now is to make sure that kids feel safe and secure in their family relationships. There’s a lot of upheaval and stress as kids are cut off from friends and teachers. Make sure to manage your own stress, too, as keeping yourself healthy is critical to keeping your family healthy, too.
Sticking to a routine is the most important thing you can do to keep your kids learning. It’s what creates the space for schoolwork to happen, and it keeps kids calmer because they know what to expect.
At the same time, parents need to be realistic about what they and their kids can get done each day. After all, stress and uncertainty can make focusing difficult.
Teachers are urging students to stay engaged, but also to remember that no one is expecting the same level of learning that happens in school during this temporary time. Two or three hours a day of focused time on learning is plenty. Don’t feel like you should schedule six hours of learning, which would overwhelm kids.
Educators understand that parents are under a lot of pressure right now regarding work and family income. They don’t expect parents to suddenly replace teachers. Make sure to tend to your kids’ emotional well-being, set a reasonable schedule with a good work-to-play ratio and stick to your routine. We’ll all get through this together.
We’re Here to See You Through
To stay updated on the latest coronavirus news, and for more support for helping your children learn at home during quarantine, visit our Coronavirus Resource Hub.