New to homeschooling? here are 5 resources that can help

Keeping up with lessons during the coronavirus pandemic can be overwhelming for first-time homeschoolers.

As COVID-19 spreads through the U.S., all 50 states have closed schools. While most states have closed schools for just a few weeks, Kansas, Virginia, and Oklahoma plan to keep schools closed until the next academic year — and other states may soon follow suit. The most up-to-date closures are being tracked by Edweek, updated daily.

The next school year starts in August. That’s five whole months, Mom and Dad.

If students are thinking school closings mean no more tests, they will soon be proven wrong. Both parents and children everywhere are about to undergo a big test of patience as everyone settles into a new homeschooling routine.

But, psssst! For all you new-to-homeschooling parents out there, Freethink has your cheat sheet!  We’ve rounded up five ways (with free resources) to help you make the grade. You can pass this test and both you — and your children — can learn, grow, and thrive in this uncertain time.

Free Internet

Teachers are scrambling to put together take-home packets and many are opting to post assignments online. But some families don’t have an Internet connection. This can make homeschooling in 2020 nearly impossible. In response, Comcast is offering 60 days of free Internet access to low-income families. And Xfinity hotspots, at locations across the country, are free to everyone.

Free Homeschooling Curriculums

Many homeschooling programs are offering free web-based curriculum, such as Other Goose. Their program, which was created by a homeschooling mother, generates a custom curriculum for children aged 2-7 years old. For the budding K-12 bookworm, Readworks.org is a reading comprehension service. Because it is donation-based, you can access the content for free or pay what you can afford. For math and science lessons, try Discovery K-12. They even have lessons in performing arts and physical education.

Videos and Webinars

Now is the time to loosen the rules on screen-time. Parenting is hard, and times like this call for flexibility. Thankfully there are educational webinars and videos that are a great way to keep children occupied when parents need to turn their attention to work. Mo Willems, of “Elephant and Piggie” and “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus” is hosting “lunchtime doodles” at 1 p.m. EDT. For free science lessons during the school closings, tune into Mystery Science. And TED-ed adapts lessons into animated videos for children.

Educational Video Games

You can finally give in to your children and let them play video games — and still give yourself a pat on the back for providing enriching activities. Minecraft announced that they are giving away educational lessons in the game and extending free access to Education Edition for teachers. You can find the lessons in the Minecraft Marketplace under the new “Education” category. In Minecraft, the best selling video game of all time, the 145 million active players use digital blocks (like Legos) to build virtual worlds. The lessons, which cover biology, math, and culture, will include new downloadable worlds. If your child is a Minecraft fan, this is a win-win opportunity.

Foreign Language Learning

For children learning English as a second language, or diving into their first study of a foreign language, leaving the classroom and not being immersed in the language for a few months will be a real setback. Thankfully Voces Digital, an online school for foreign languages, is offering free access until June 30. Students can study Spanish, French, and ESL with audio and video lessons and speaking exercises.

Don’t Forget – Recess and Gym

Physical activity is important. But when everyone is stuck indoors, kicking a ball around isn’t a good idea. For young children, try GoNoodle. They offer fun, silly, and entertaining videos that get children moving. For older kids and parents, try one of the many gyms that are offering live web-based fitness classes, like Blink Fitness which airs virtual workouts at 8 am ET via Facebook Live. Another is Orangetheory, which is sharing a different 30-minute video each day. The workouts don’t require special equipment, and instead, utilize household items.

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