Free Online Resources for Families

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

Around the nation, more than 124,000 schools have closed, 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.

  • Big Universe

    High-interest literature is critical to sparking your child's love for reading, especially in the formative years. With Big Universe, you can access 17,000+ leveled eBooks and balanced literacy tools available 24/7 on any device. This interactive program has engaging reading practice opportunities, such as read alouds, guided reading, interactive writing, writing workshops, and reading workshops.

  • 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).

  • Curriculum Associates' Printables

    Curriculum Associates has prepared free, printable worksheets covering mathematics and reading for students in grades K-8. These printable activity packs provide valuable, self-directed practice of key learning concepts for each grade.

  • 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.

  • Digital Trends

    Digital Trends has put together a resource page for parents with helpful tips, how-tos, and apps for learning online. You can find information here about what's safe for kids to watch on YouTube, as well as how to borrow e-books from your public library.

  • 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.

  • Emotional ABCs

    Emotional ABCs is a research-based social emotional learning program with a free version available to families. Designed for children ages 4-11, the program gives kids practical tools for dealing with impulse control, frustration, and other behavior. Emotional ABCs teaches children how to figure out what they’re feeling and why, so that they can make the best decisions.

  • 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.

  • KID Museum

    KID Museum is offering families a free weekly series called Make It! Each week, discover five tutorials with fun maker activities: bug hotels, straw mazes, household mini golf, and more. The activities utilize common household supplies and encourage kids to make the most of their time at home.

  • 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 June 30 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).

  • National Geographic

    During COVID-19, National Geographic is offering families free videos and activities about all things science and geography. National Geographic is also providing live videos daily at 2 p.m. EDT. The live, "Explorer Classroom" series unites students from around the globe with bat-trackers, wildlife conservationists, documentary filmmakers, and more.

  • No Red Ink

    No Red Ink is a resource for online writing and grammar practice. The resource was developed by an English teacher who realized that immediate feedback, interest-based curriculum, and lots of practice could help all students become stronger, more confident writers. In light of COVID-19, No Red Ink has expanded free offerings for the remainder of the academic year. No Red Ink's resources serve grades 5-12.

  • ORIGO Education

    ORIGO Education is offering a collection of free math learning resources to support teachers, parents, and caregivers as they strive to keep students engaged and continually learning. ORIGO at Home features free weekly, digital plans for home use. These weekly plans contain activities for each day, along with digitally accessible or downloadable resources, designed for grades pre-K through six. Parents can simply choose a grade level and start at Week 1. The lesson plan format provides everything needed for instruction and is written so it can be implemented outside of the classroom. Students can engage in the work on a device or resources can be downloaded for printing. In addition, most of the student resources are available in Spanish.

  • 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.

  • Stride

    Stride is a game-based learning system that helps kids in grades pre-K through 8 develop math, language arts, reading, and science skills. Typically available for a fee, Stride is being offered for free to families through June 30.

  • 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. You may also want to check out Varsity Tutors' free, virtual summer camp offerings!

  • Wide Open School

    Wide Open School brings together big names across education, technology, and media to create a free, one-stop shop site for education resources for K-12 students, teachers, and parents. The site has an interactive daily schedule customized to your student’s age range, a list of live virtual events (such as story times and concerts), and links to materials for every school subject. All the materials are free and vetted for quality by Common Sense. There are Spanish materials available. The website also offers resources that can be used offline as well as lists of sites that are accessible on cell phones.

  • Wonder Stories

    Wonder Stories is an interactive reading platform for grades 2-4. The platform's books are designed to be engaging and encourage critical thinking. Students participate in stories by solving mysteries, puzzles, and adventures all while getting feedback. Your student is in control of the story, deciding what the characters do! Wonder Stories is especially great for struggling readers. While Wonder Stories is always free for teachers, it is free to all community members for the next two months. Families can access this resource by downloading it from the App Store or Google Play.

  • 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 school buildings have shuttered until fall 2020. Meanwhile, educators are working to prepare health and learning plans in case disruptions continue during the 2020-2021 school year.

This map from Education Week is tracking state announcements about when schools will start in the fall. 

Around the country, teachers and community leaders are working on distant learning plans to keep students engaged in their learning journeys at home. Thousands of schools have learned how to host videoconference classes and many online learning platforms have offered free resources to educators during the pandemic. Some schools and districts have installed WiFi on school buses so they can be used as wireless hotspots for students in low-income neighborhoods during extended school closures. 

Your local school or school district should provide updates on their summer plans, when they will reopen in the fall, what new health policies will be in place. 

You may also want to read the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance for reopening schools and other public spaces. 

 

What about standardized tests? 

The U.S. Department of Education granted one year waivers of federally required standardized testing to any state that requested it due to the pandemic. All 50 states and Washington, D.C. cancelled or postponed spring testing due to COVID-19.

According to Betsy 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 released states from their obligation to provide standardized testing for the 2019-2020 school year. The waivers did not release states from their obligation to continue serving students, such as through distance learning. 

Also, the Home School Legal Defense Association has clarified that the U.S. Department of Education’s waiving of federally required testing did not apply to homeschool families, since homeschool regulation is state-specific. 

 

Can I officially start homeschooling?

Parents around the country suddenly found themselves educating at home during COVID-19. 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.

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 K-12 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 for the duration of the school year, 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. Some virtual schools may have already reached maximum enrollment or be unable to accept new students at this time, while others may be accepting students.

 

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

 

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  • Give yourself ‘grace’ — and 7 other tips from teachers to home-schooling families

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  • At This Time of Crisis, Schools Are Improvising, Innovating and Scaling Good Ideas With Love, Loyalty & Care. These Days Will Shape Us Forever

    By Robert Pondiscio

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

    By Victoria McDougald

  • Tuition-free Online Summer Camps

    from Destinations Career Academy

  • Ways your whole family can volunteer together

    By Brandon L. Wright

  • 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

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

    by the National Association of School Psychologists 

  • Internet Options for Students on Low Income

    By Reviews.com Staff

  • 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

#parentsarethenewteachers

#learneverywhere

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