Free Online Resources for Families

Free Resources, FAQ for Families Educating at Home During Coronavirus Pandemic

Around the nation, more than 124,000 schools are closed or are scheduled to close, impacting more than 55.1 million students.

Chances are that the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, has impacted your family’s school choice.

As families evaluate how to keep their children safe and healthy while still learning, here are some educational resources to navigate these unique times, including a list of free online resources and answers to commonly asked questions about homeschooling and online schooling.  

School closed?  Staying healthy at home?  Learn about free educational resources your child can use from home. Click To Tweet

If you’re looking for more learning resources, you can also check out our list of 100+ free resources for teachers and schools shifting online. For information about educating students with disabilities during COVID-19, click here

  • ABCya

    ABCya offers more than 400 educational games for children in grades Pre-K through 6. Games are categorized by grade and subject, and families can access all ABCya's regular games and videos with a free subscription.

  • BrainPOP

    BrainPOP provides animated interactive lessons, quizzes, and games for core subjects and a variety of electives. 

  • Carnegie Mellon University's CS Academy

    Looking to introduce your kids to Python programming? CMU CS Academy is a free online, interactive high school computer science curriculum. By signing up for a mentor account, families can access the CS0 course. This course includes about 40 hours of instruction and is intended for middle school, out-of-school programs, and summer camp settings. 

  • Cincinnati Zoo's Facebook Live Safaris

    Cincinnati Zoo is currently offering daily live safaris that families can tune into to learn about animals. Watch at the Zoo's Facebook page at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

  • Circletime Fun

    Circletime Fun offers kids classes from home that you can either watch on-demand or participate in live. Each class is led by an expert instructor and geared toward children ages 0-6. Registration is required to access the classes but is free with this code: homefun1.

  • Cognitive ToyBox's Free Daily Activities

    Cognitive ToyBox is offering free daily activities geared towards young children (ages 8 and younger).

  • Coronavirus Homeschooling

    Coronavirus Homeschooling offers parents free schedules and weekly lesson plans for kids in grades K-5 during the pandemic. Parents can sign up for access to resources on the website. Additionally, the group sends an email each weekday with a list of fun, educational activities for the day (a.k.a. lesson plans) and a video from an experienced homeschool mom to walk you through them. These lessons can be used on their own or as supplementary activities to a district's assignments.

  • Didax's Virtual Manipulatives

    Working on math with your child? Didax offers a whole host of virtual manipulatives (number lines, pattern blocks, geoboards, etc.) to enhance at-home learning.

  • Duolingo

    Duolingo helps students keep up with foreign language skills. Duolingo offers 30+ languages so students can start learning a variety of languages that interest them. Or, students can use Duolingo to practice the foreign languages they are already learning in the classroom. 

  • edHelper's Free Printables

    edHelper is currently offering lots and lots of free, printable worksheets for parents to use. These printables range from Sudoku puzzles to spelling challenges to addition worksheets, and can be accessed without purchasing an account.

  • Edmentum

    Through Edmentum's Study Island for Home, parents can access trusted K-12 programs tailored to state standards. Families can receive one year free by using the code: EdmentumSupport2020. Note that registration will require a credit card and you will see what looks like an auto-renewal, but Edmentum will not auto-renew or charge your credit card.

  • EVERFI

    EVERFI offers free supplemental lessons for the whole student in areas of Finance, SEL, Health, College/Career Readiness, and related topics.

  • FabuLingua

    FabuLingua teaches Spanish through interactive stories on mobile phones and tablets for children aged 2-10. Kids can learn a new language in a way that is effective but feels effortless (and fun!). FabuLingua has temporarily suspended their subscription service so families can access the program for free during the pandemic.

  • Have Fun Teaching's "Relief Packs"

    While full access to Have Fun Teaching requires a paid subscription, the site is offering free "relief packs" with printable worksheets for grades pre-K through 5. Each "relief pack" covers a variety of subjects: English, math, phonics, reading, science, social studies, writing, etc.

  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt offers families a compilation of free learning activities, lessons, downloadables, and videos for Grade K–12 kids

  • Kahn Academy

    Khan Academy offers free courses of all grade levels to help students master subjects and accelerate their learning. Through these courses, Kahn Academy allows students to personalize their learning and learn at their own pace. 

  • KidLitTV

    KidLitTV offers a variety of creative video content to inspire and educate kids. The website's free content includes read-alouds, drawing tutorials, cooking lessons, craft ideas, and more.

  • Kuder

    Kuder is offering free access to career exploration and readiness systems for students in grades pre-K through 12. New users who register by May 31 will receive lifetime access (logging in once a year is required to maintain an active account). For students in grades pre-K through five, visit galaxy.kuder.com/register. For students in grades 6-12, visit navigatorathome.kuder.com.

  • Learn Everywhere

    #LearnEverywhere is a community and website devoted to sharing educational resources for all grade levels. Parents can search the database of resources for fun ideas, collaborate and ask questions in the community, or contribute ideas.

  • Lumosity

    Lumosity offers free brain games to keep student minds actively engaged. For example, the games use problem solving, critical thinking, and memory to keep students on their toes and strengthen their skills. 

  • Makers Empire

    Makers Empire is a 3D design tool used by 1+ million students in 40 countries. Makers Empire is free for home users and a "Learning at Home" course and other resources are available to help students develop design thinking.

  • The Math Learning Center's Practice Books

    The Math Learning Center offers free, printable math workbooks in both Spanish and English for grades K-5. These worksheets may be used to complement any math program.

  • Mystery Science

    Mystery Science is offering families a collection of their most popular science lessons for free during the pandemic. These lessons are designed by experts to engage students, achieve learning outcomes, and be easy to implement (using simple supplies a parent will likely already have at home).

  • No Red Ink

    No Red Ink is a free resource for online writing and grammar practice. 

  • Parent Support for Online Learning

    Parent Support for Online Learning offers mentorship and resources from experienced online educators. Wondering how to fix a bad WiFi connection? Looking for learning ideas? Craving a support network? Find help here.

  • PBS Learning Media

    PBS LearningMedia provides students with free lesson plans, videos, and games aligned with standards they are learning in the classroom.

  • TEDEd

    TEDEd brings lessons to life for students through animation. TEDEd’s goal is to ignite curiosity among learners. To do this, TEDEd collects the best teacher lessons around the world. Then, it turns them into shareable animated videos for students.

  • Typing Club

    Typing Club is a web-based program for students to learn and practice typing skills. Individuals can register for free with Typing Club (there is also an optional paid offering that schools can upgrade to.)

  • Scholastic Learn at Home

    Scholastic Learn at Home's helps keep learning lessons built around meaningful stories and videos. Kids can do them on their own, or with a sibling or parent. Scholastic Learn at Home offers 5 days worth of activities for each age range.

  • Skype a Scientist

    Skype a Scientist connects real scientists with families (or classrooms) and allows children to ask questions about science. Sign up on the website to be "matched" to a scientist.

  • STEM from the Start

    STEM from the START is a free curriculum resource for teaching STEM content to PreK-2 students. Blending animated adventures with guided activities, these free lessons are engaging, effective, easy to prepare and aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. Discovery Breaks are questions posed directly to students where the video is designed to be paused to engage and explore with activities found in the Discovery Guide.

  • ST Math

    ST Math is a PreK-8 visual instructional program that uses the brain’s innate spatial-temporal reasoning ability to solve mathematical problems. ST Math starts by teaching foundational concepts visually, then connects the ideas to the symbols and language. With visual learning, students are better equipped to tackle unfamiliar math problems, recognize patterns, and build conceptual understanding. Without language barriers, the problem is accessible to all students, regardless of skill level or language barrier. Free access is being offered through June 30, 2020.

  • Tinkergarten's DIY Activities

    While Tinkergarten also offers paid classes, you'll find a plethora of free DIY content on their website. These DIY activities are outdoor, play-based activities for students ages 0 to 8+. Activities can be sorted by age range (0-2, 3-5, or 6-8+) and skill (thinking skills, social/emotional skills, or body skills).

  • Varsity Tutors

    Varsity Tutors has launched “Virtual School Day”, a free program that includes live, online classes and educational resources intended to help keep students from sliding academically and to help parents with homeschooling. With Virtual School Day, each student receives 30 hours a week of free, high-quality live, online instruction led by an expert tutor with experience in the course topic. Core content is covered such as K-12 Math, ELA, K-12 Science, and expert-led study hall sessions for students to receive personal attention when completing homework assignments from school. Enrichment classes, such as Secrets of Staying Healthy for elementary school students and History of the National Parks and Careers for high school students, are also available.

  • Young Writer's Blueprint

    Young Writer's Blueprint is a free writing course for children ages 6-10, led by award-winning author Alice Kuipers. The course consists of personal and hands-on videos and worksheets designed to "set loose the creative imagination of the world's youth." The course can be downloaded in advance and used offline, and covers topics such as gathering ideas, creating characters, writing short stories, poetry writing, and editing.

 

When will schools reopen?

It’s unclear how long disruptions will last. Most schools and school districts have shut down till at least the end of April.

The following states have closed down public school buildings to students for the remainder of the academic year: Kansas, Virginia, Oklahoma, Alabama, New Mexico, Vermont, Arizona, Georgia, and Michigan. Districts are developing distant learning plans to keep students engaged in their learning journeys at home. Given the uniqueness of the COVID-19 situation, most states are waiving make-up days for schools closed due to the coronavirus. 

Your local school or school district should provide updates on their COVID-19 plans, including whether a meal distribution plan is available. In addition, this map from Education Week tracks school closures nationwide and is being updated every day.

It’s unlikely that COVID-19 will disrupt an entire year’s worth of schooling. However, your child may be out of school for several weeks or more, so you may want to discover more about your options for learning at home.

Around the country, teachers and community leaders are brainstorming how to best ensure that students are able to continue their learning journey and make up for missed in-class time. Thousands of schools are switching to videoconference classes and many online learning platforms are offering free resources to educators amid the pandemic. Some schools and districts are installing WiFi on school buses so they can be used as wireless hotspots for students in low-income neighborhoods during extended school closures.

 

What about standardized tests? 

The U.S. Department of Education is granting one year waivers of federally required standardized testing to any state that requests it due to the pandemic. All 50 states and Washington, D.C. are in the process of cancelling or postponing spring testing due to COVID-19.

According to DeVos, “Students need to be focused on staying healthy and continuing to learn. Teachers need to be able to focus on remote learning and other adaptations. Neither students nor teachers need to be focused on high-stakes tests during this difficult time. Students are simply too unlikely to be able to perform their best in this environment.”

Note that the waivers release states from their obligation to provide standardized testing this school year. The waivers do not release states from their obligation to continue serving students, such as through distance learning. 

 

Can I officially start homeschooling?

Parents around the country are suddenly finding themselves educating at home. As Kevin Carey, vice president for education policy at New America, put it, the coronavirus has led to “a vast unplanned experiment in mass home-schooling.”

For most families, learning from home  isn’t the long-term plan. Some, however, may be interested in making an official full-time switch to homeschooling. While parents in every state have the freedom to educate their children in the home, homeschool rules vary by state.

Homeschooling in USA

Keep in mind that students are considered officially enrolled in their current school, even if that school is not currently operating and has not provided other learning arrangements. If you are interested in officially switching to homeschooling, you’ll need to check your state’s enrollment procedures. In some states, there may be a deadline for making the switch. For instance, in Nebraska, families have until Thursday, April 30, 2020 to submit an application if they would like to officially switch to homeschooling for the 2019/2020 school year.

Currently, approximately two million students in America are officially homeschooled

 

To find homeschooling rules and resources for your state, click here. 

 

 

Can I switch to an online school?

Some families affected by COVID-19 have expressed interest in officially signing up for online school. Across the country, 375,000 students already attend online school in the U.S., and free online school is available in more than half of U.S. states. Online schooling usually offers flexible schedules that can accommodate a variety of health needs.

As with homeschooling, keep in mind that students are considered officially enrolled in their current school, even if that school is not currently operating and has not provided other learning arrangements. If you are interested in officially switching to online school, you’ll need to check your state’s enrollment procedures and deadlines.

 

For more info about how full-time online school works, and to see a directory of online school options by state, click here. 

 

  • Thirty-two resources for entertaining energetic preschoolers during daycare and preschool closures

    By Victoria McDougald

  • List of Interactive Read-Alouds

    This Google doc by literacy advocate Olivia Van Ledtje compiles read-alouds and other book-based activities that are taking place across social media.

  • Parenting during coronavirus: What to know about play dates, education and more

    By Amy Joyce and Mari-Jane Williams

  • How Does Coronavirus Affect Children? Here Are the Latest Findings

    By Debra Viadero

  • How to Homeschool during the Coronavirus Crisis with Free Resources

    By Lisa Tolin

  • One parent's plans for Daddy School

    By Michael Goldstein

  • Coronavirus took these students’ spotlight. Broadway star Laura Benanti became their audience

    By Susan Gonzales

  • Talking to Children about COVID-19: A Parent Resource

    by the National Association of School Psychologists 

  • Comcast's Internet Essentials Package

    Comcast announced it will be increasing speeds for the Internet Essentials program, and making the program free to new low-income customers for two months, amid the coronavirus outbreak. To sign up, visit their webpage.

  • Charter's free access to Spectrum broadband, WiFI during pandemic

    Charter announced it will offer free services to families around the nation starting Monday, March 16 and continuing for 60 days.

 

Hashtags 

You can also find more home education tips and resources on social media. Search these hashtags that educators and community members are using to share learning tips: 

#operationstorytime

#freeresourceloop

#teachertipscovid19

#togetherathome

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