Here is a list of online education classes and entertaining sites, which are free and which will help your children learn and have fun during this crisis period
Due to the threat of coronavirus pandemic, all academic instructions, including schools, colleges, and universities have been shut down. This presents parents with the challenge of entertaining and educating their children during this forced break. I am sure not all children will be excited at the thought of learning during this time, but that situation is going to change soon. The euphoria of a break will soon wear off, and then children will feel pretty empty because the schools will remain closed for at least a few more weeks. Let us not think about more time than that at the moment.
Cheer up, parents as soon as you tell your children, they can use the internet, you will get a positive response from your grumpy children. I did some research and have listed here some online education classes, and other entertaining sites, that are great and are free. They will help your children learn and have fun during this crisis period. These programs are offered by accredited institutions and learning companies such as Khan Academy, Scholastic, Epic, Fun Brain, National Geographic Kids and PBS. Some of these sites are more academic, while others provide simple activities and entertainment to keep your children away from mischief. These sites are appropriate for children of all ages and cover general curriculum including, science, math reading, and social studies.
KNOW THE SOURCES
First on my list is Khan Academy. Khan Academy Kids app is free and provides excellent educational videos and activities for children between two to seven years. The available videos help children to learn to write their letters and do some basic math. There are also videos to boost their social and emotional development. These videos are beautifully designed, with bright colors and fun characters that make lessons interesting and fun. The Khan Academy Kids works only on the iPad or iPhone. This reduces a parent’s concern about their child browsing YouTube unattended. The regular Khan Academy channel, however, has materials useful for older children as well in chemistry, civics, and advanced math. The next site is Scholastic.
Scholastic has a ‘learn at home’ free resources that help children to keep learning even during the period schools are closed. The classes are simple enough for children to do it on their own. There are plenty of activities for children in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten. There is also a set of read-along stories for children to watch and read the animated stories book at the same time. You will be surprised to find the lessons divided into days, for young children. On day one, children learn about rabbits. Day two is about plants. They also get to brush up their plant vocabulary and so on. Right now, there are five days of lessons on the site. Scholastic has promised to upload at least fifteen more days of lessons. The next site is Epic.
Considering the recent school closures in Nepal, Epic is one site that will bring some relief to the parents. It is a virtual library with resources for both students and teachers. Its resources are free until June 30, 2020. This virtual library has 40, 000 books, your child can take advantage of. At the same time, teachers can also take advantage of this platform for the benefit of their students. There is just one catch.
You need a little help from your child’s teacher because s/he will have to invite your child and will have to sign up so your child can access their resources. The virtual library has 40 000 books your child can take advantage of during their free time. At the same time, the teachers also can take advantage of the platform by providing lessons, assigning books, and tracking reading activity and progress of their students. The next, interesting site for slightly older children on my list is My Story Book.
Children aged five or six will get more out of this website. Your child might need a little help from you. The resource is a fun creative tool for children who like to write stories. This site is flexible enough to allow your child the freedom to take a writing lesson, and also build a virtual storybook complete with drawings. You have the option of sharing your child’s books online and if you fancy pay to convert them to actual books. Sometimes children need a break from their studies. One such site is Storyline Online.
It is a digital archive of audiobooks that your children can just sit, relax and listen to various celebrities read the book. Some books might be slightly above the reading level of six-year-old. Parents need to decide on a story before having their child listen to it. If your children are crazy about space, then Story Time from Space is the site LEARNING DURING LOCKDOWN for him/her. Storytime from space, is a read-along series, involving astronauts. They read stories in a video, in an anti-gravity situation. Your child can see astronauts reading books like ‘A moon of my own’ among dozens of other books. If your children are tired of reading, let them enjoy National Geographic Kids.
This site is free and has tons of fun-filled videos, games, and lots of information regarding animals and nature. It is purely informative and entertainment site and does not fulfill lessons or curriculum. Children can watch people make ‘elephant toothpaste’ and other various kinds of explanations and experiments and even investigate different types of rocks. The wide variety of experiments shown there are safe for children to replicate at home. Some of these experiments are like bottling eggs, coating candy, dropping dye in white paint, and other school science fair stuff. If you think this is not an option for your child, there is yet another site that you can choose. It is called Fun Brain.
This site has free educational games and videos for children from pre-kindergarten to age eight. There are plenty of games, online books, and videos, all geared towards helping children evolve their math, reading, and problem-solving skills. Then there is my favorite site, PBS KIDS.
It is a public broadcasting channel in the USA. Through PBS KIDS children can play games with popular characters like, Daniel Tiger, Arthur, and Clifford the big red dog. The content presented is more entertaining than educational, with quality content, prepared keeping children in mind. If your child is into arts, then, you might want to explore Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems.
Mo Willems is an artist in Brooklyn, Massachusetts. He is the Kennedy Center’s first Education artist-in-residence, who conducts daily online drawing sessions for children. They can watch all past episodes of lunch doodles on the Kennedy Center’s website and also on YouTube. It would be a good idea to start with the first episode. If your child is tired of all direct and indirect learning, you can direct them to try some exercise with Cosmic Kids Yoga.
FUN WITH VIDEOS
This is a free site on YouTube that lets cooped up children flex their bodies. It is purely activity-based. You can even consider this as a break for your children. Being cooped up at home is a torture for both children and their parents. It also includes Moana, Harry Potter, and Frozen-themed yoga. A similar programming is GoNoodle.
This is also a free programming on YouTube. You need to create an account. The creators of GoNoodle are child development experts. This program helps children to practice their social skills. It has short music videos for children to practice their aerobic dance, along with fun characters.
The intention of the animated videos is to provide incentives for the children to jump around, and release their nervous energy, and have fun at the same time. If you want to take your children on a virtual tour, you can always visit Virtual Museum, National Parks and Zoo Tours.
Many places like the San Diego Zoo, Yellowstone, the Louvre, and the Great Wall of China, have uploaded virtual tours of their spaces for children to have fun, see new things, and get the feel of the real place. Children can check the cool spaces, and even watch animal cameras to their delight. At a time when all is closed, these provide a respite to both parents and children alike.
Finally, for parents, who have an iPad, iPhone or a mac book, Apple Books has made all of their Sesame Street books free that you can download for your children. They also have some adults, and young adults’ books free for download, during this lockdown period. I understand this is a difficult time for both parents and children. I assure you that all the sites mentioned above are excellent sites that parents can go through and decide what is appropriate for their child. Now, parents, you can at least do that much for your children, right?
Pokharel is an educationist and author of several children’s books