Maybe you are a veteran homeschooler, but now you need ways to fill the time you had planned to spend on field trips to the symphony. Or maybe you always used to look at your homeschool friends and think, “I could never do that!” Either way, we are all finding ourselves in unusual circumstances now as we hunker down in our homes to prevent the spread of Coronavirus.
As the founder of an online learning program and a former homeschooling mom (who often had to work at home while homeschooling!) I have a few tricks up my sleeve to keep kids engaged and learning.
Any homeschooler will tell you that they practically LIVE at the local library. But what if your library is closed? Check to see if they offer virtual options. My local library offers free access to ebooks and audiobooks via OverDrive and Hoopla. Films and documentaries are available through Kanopy. Check your local library’s website to see what may be available to your family.
Audible just announced that they ware offering free access to hundreds of titles for young people. No registration or login required. Just click and listen! Bonus: Some of the titles are available in multiple languages, too.
If you already have access to a streaming movie service, you might want to check out Teach With Movies to find ideas to supplement your viewing of the film with discussion questions, projects, and additional research. Notes on each film can also help you decide if the movie is a good fit for your family.
You may think your kids already spend too much time on YouTube, but there are some truly fantastic learning channels available there. Here are a few of our favorites:
If you are worried about your child getting distracted by ads or recommended videos, you can create “safe links” with a tool such as Safe Share.
Virtual Field Trips
Many of your favorite museums already offer interactive exhibits online. However, some have really gone the extra mile with Google Street View Tours. Your kids can visit the Colisseum and the Palace of Versailles in the same day! The Metropolitan Opera is not able to continue live performances right now, so they are offering free nightly online streaming presentations of past shows beginning Monday, March 16.
Tabletop Board Games
Don’t underestimate the power of play! Family game night can be a fun and educational way to bond and relax during stressful times. It can also be a great opportunity to learn math, history, and science while honing critical thinking skills. See Headmaster Galahad’s blog post on Memoir ‘44 for more information on how he uses a WWII strategy game to engage learners. Headmaster Galahad also hosted a free webinar to share more ideas on Learning as a Family with Tabletop Games.
Educational Subscription Sites
If you are already a currently-enrolled G3 family, you have ongoing access to the entire library of videos from Brainpop and Discovery Education. If you haven’t enrolled yet, there is still time to join an April workshop, which includes access to both of these sites as well as to our moderated discussion forums through summer. If you aren’t registered with G3, Brainpop is offering a free 30-day trial of selected resources for free during the Coronavirus outbreak.
One Stop Shop
Is there any topic Khan Academy doesn’t cover now? Some courses and videos are more engaging than others, but you can find almost anything your child wants to learn available for free here. This could be a great way to keep up with math practice, or encourage your teen to start prepping for the SAT. Thinkwell is now offering free access to their “Essentials” video courses as well. Scholastic is another mega-site of educational resources, and they are posting new resources on a daily schedule to help families maintain a thematic learning routine at home.
Duolingo is a free app that lets students learn and practice 36 different languages, including fictional constructed languages such as Klingon and High Valyrian! Many libraries also offer free access to Mango Languages, and Mango just announced that they are offering free subscriptions to schools facing Covid-19 closures as well. Language Bird is now offering free Chirp Chat rooms for real-time language practice. And of course, former G3 French teacher, Alex de Chambure has classes available at his site, Language City.
I was a fan of online learning well before it became a necessity to contain a pandemic. I truly believe that it’s a wonderful learning environment for many gifted students, and now is a great time to try it out with your kids. We have several workshops starting in April, and many other wonderful online providers are offering additional options to meet the unexpected demand this virus has created. I recently hosted a free webinar to learn more about the wide variety of online learning options that are currently available and which kinds of programs might be a good fit for your family.
I’ll update this page as I learn of other options for keeping your kids learning during this challenging time. If you have ideas to share, please leave a comment below!
Jaime Smith is also known as Headmistress Guinevere at OnlineG3.com. She is the President and CEO of Online G3, Inc., and she teaches literature and grammar at G3.