Free resources to keep learning going while COVID-19 keeps students at home

Free resources to keep learning going while COVID-19 keeps students at home

COVID-19 has forced classes to close, but children’s educations can continue with some creativity and a wealth of free resources for online learning at home.

Governors in multiple states have closed elementary through high school schools as cases of the coronavirus spread and states issue stay-at-home orders. Illinois is no exception. All Illinois schools are closed through at least April 7, with Gov. J.B. Pritzker re-evaluating the order regularly. Chicago Public Schools are closed until at least April 21.

A home education plan is not an easy adjustment. Many high school and middle school students are able to complete lessons and assignments online, which come in the form of videos, reading assignments and quizzes on class websites. Many students use laptops provided by the school. On the other hand, parents of younger elementary school children have been delegated teaching duties even as they are forced to work from home. The balance between home, school and work is not easy for parents but there is help online.

Donna Ferguson from The Guardian compiled ideas from teachers and education advisors about what parents can do to keep their youngsters’ educations advancing:

  • Stick to a routine that keeps students focused on schoolwork and shows younger children they are not on a break.
  • Give kids flexibility as to how and when they want to learn. Other activities are good for their mental well-being and keep them from being overwhelmed.
  • Limit distracting technology such as video games, phones and TV. Find other activities for them to do such as playing outside or doing something creative.
  • Review math and writing concepts and encourage them to apply it in a creative way.
  • Encourage them to read every day. Let them choose what they want to read, which will help them enjoy it more.
  • Teach them about things outside of the house, such as by teaching kids about different kinds of plants in the yard.

Other experts recommend limiting learning to ease mental stress. While parents are stressed about the change in their home, students also feel uprooted from their natural environment. Finding activities such as Monopoly can be a good substitute for learning. The Illinois State Board of Education has a list of recommended activities that can help student development outside of traditional academics, as well as age-appropriate lesson guidelines.

Parents looking for educational tools and guides on the internet have plenty of options to choose from. Organizations such as NASA, Scholastic and Adobe have free resources for students to use while they’re stuck at home.

One of the best online sites for educators is Kahn Academy. This non-profit provides educational material in a wide range of subjects across all grade levels from kindergarten to high school. While millions of students are now being homeschooled, they have even released a sample schedule for parents to follow and help keep kids learning.

For older students in high school and middle school, many assignments are coming in the form of papers so they can demonstrate their learning to their teachers. Purdue Online Writing Lab can provide students with writing assistance on a wide range of areas and even provides guidelines for formatting teachers require.

A wealth of online resources is compiled at the National School Choice Week website. Interactive classes with live teachers is available at Outschool, with the resources offered for free during the pandemic.

While this is a difficult time for both parents and students, it does not have to be a lost educational opportunity. Now is a good time to get creative about education and turn everyday life at home into learning experiences.

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