In the midst of a major crisis, creativity, innovation and generosity continue to flourish. As countries around the world continue to practice social distancing, educators, librarians and entrepreneurs are coming up with great remote learning opportunities for kids quarantined at home.
Some services are free, while others cost. What they are all attempting to do is keep kids and families engaged. In this state of social distancing, we are infinitely connected.
Brian Galvin, L.A.-based chief academic officer for Varsity Tutors and an expert on virtual homeschooling, says parents can use the coronavirus outbreak as a chance to teach students about the world. “Coronavirus shows how interconnected the world is,” he says. “It’s a good chance to learn some geography, locating affected and unaffected countries on a map. The wild ride of the stock market lends itself well to math problems; the global interconnectedness of what’s going on is a great opportunity to delve into maps and learn about other countries.”
The last thing we want to do is overwhelm you because, as parents, we know what you’re going through with the influx of information flooding your social feeds and inboxes every hour on the hour. We hope this roundup of remote learning resources, though, will inspire.
“I’m biased of course, but I’m really excited about the Varsity Tutors Virtual School Day program, which supplements lots of online homework with interesting live classes that live in that intersection of educational and [fun],” says Galvin. “We’ll have classes about the history and origin of kids’ favorite fairy tales, video game sound design, careers in science and technology – all kinds of ways to break the monotony of worksheets and assigned reading.”
As part of the public media mission to ensure all kids have access to continued free educational resources at home, PBS SoCal | KCET, in partnership with the Los Angeles Unified School District and in collaboration with California PBS stations, are offering broadcast programming and accompanying digital resources that adhere to California’s state curriculum to provide continued at-home learning. Students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade can now access free, educational PBS daytime programming designated for each grade level weekdays. Here’s more information.
Scholastic encourages us to “keep the learning going” with its special cross-curricular content. Every day, Scholastic will offer four separate learning experiences, each built around a thrilling, meaningful story or video. Kids can do them on their own or with their families.
The popular video-conferencing site Zoom is temporarily lifting its 40-minute time limit on free Basic accounts for schools. The Zoom platform allows video and audio conferencing, collaboration, chat and webinars across mobile devices, desktops, telephones and room systems. Students or teachers who fill out an online form need to use their school email address to qualify for the unlimited offer.
Speaking of Zoom, Outschool, a marketplace of live online classes for ages 3-18, is working with Zoom to offer free classes for kids (limit $200 value per family) affected by school shutdowns at public schools. Classes meet in small groups over live video chat where students are safely connected with teachers and classmates who share their interests. These classes are offered through their marketplace and conducted on their remote learning platform, powered by Zoom. Currently, Outschool is looking to employ 5,000 teachers teach online classes over the next two weeks.
Writopia Lab, a creative writing nonprofit that offers workshops in L.A., has taken its classes online so that kids can keep their creative juices flowing through poetry, fiction, screenwriting and more.
The nonprofit Common Sense has lots of useful online resources for educators and parents, including learning tools; age-based, curated lists of quality media; tips for dealing with misinformation; TV episodes to help mitigate fears; an app for health and well-being and research.
The Story Pirates, a nationally renowned group of top comedians, musicians, best-selling authors and teachers, are ramping up production on digital content to entertain and educate kids and families at home. In addition to the Story Pirates podcast, they are adding new features to the Story Pirates Creator Club, a membership program that provides exclusive creativity-building activities for young fans to do at home, including a Story Pirates Radio Show featuring fan-favorite songs, play-at-home games, hilarious bits and listener call-in kid interviews, plus livestreamed, Common Core-aligned creative writing lessons taught by expert Story Pirates teachers.
Khan Academy’s library of standards-aligned practice and lessons covers math K-12 through early college, grammar, science, history, AP, SAT and more. It’s all free for learners and teachers.
From lessons on Newton’s Third Law of Motion to car design, the Petersen Automotive Museum is offering free educational livestreams twice daily. Presentations will consist of a lecture at 10 a.m. and a hands-on activity at 1 p.m. In addition to livestream programming, the museum will offer downloadable worksheets and coloring sheets. Although lessons are open to parents and children of all ages, the subject matter is targeted for ages 12 and under.
And parents, you can use this as an opportunity to squeeze in some new learning, too. Open Culture, a free cultural and educational media website, has curated a selection of more than 1,500 free online courses, plus eBooks, movies, coloring books and audio books, with deep dives into everything from archaeology to architecture.
Cassandra Lane is Managing Editor of L.A. Parent, and mom to a 12-year-old who is currently learning from home.