If teaching and shaping young minds were easy, there would be more people staying up until the wee hours of the morning grading homework assignments and preparing lesson plans. A successful teacher doesn’t “get a job” as much as he or she answers a calling — and it’s not a calling every adult wants to hear.
Yet with the COVID-19 pandemic closing schools across the nation, many parents are scrambling to find the best educational opportunities available for their children so they don’t lose what they’ve learned up to this point of the school year.
When, or if, students return to school anytime this spring remains uncertain, but there are numerous options available aimed at challenging their minds more than TV and video games.
The list provided is merely a sampling of where your favorite students can broaden their minds in a variety of engaging ways. Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher, so don’t expect to be able to “home school” like a pro — your children’s teachers are not expecting that. But you can certainly direct them toward educational experiences that are both entertaining and enriching.
Netflix and learn
It’s no secret to most that Netflix and other video streaming services are packed with enough movie and program choices to make the average head spin. But one area that may have been neglected up until now, trapped behind the dramas and sitcoms, is the vast section of educational offerings.
An article on Homeschoolhideout.com states, “Netflix has been a game-changer in the way we homeschool. Sick days (or school-closed days) can still be educational. The number of educational shows on Netflix is growing every day. Not to mention the benefits Netflix has added to homeschoolers who learn best visually.”
The article suggests creating a separate account named “School” and adding only educational materials to the profile. A good starting point is the list of “100 best Educational Shows to Stream on Netflix.”
Included on the list are categories that include animals, Earth and nature, space, presidents, history, dinosaurs, documentaries, entertainment, food/nutrition/health and mystery.
Learning websites for children
Staying online for a bit, the Bellevue Schools Learning Lab + Makerspce page on Facebook has already done the fun work of coming up with a list of “10 Free Learning Websites for Kids.”
• Switcheroo Zoo (www.switcheroozoo.com): Watch, listen and play games to learn all about amazing animals
• Nat Geo for Kids (www.kids.nationalgeographic.com): Learn all about geography and fascinating animals
• Into the Book (www.reading.ecb.org): Go “into the book” to play games that practice reading strategies
• Seussville (www.seussville.com): Read, play games and hang out with Dr. Seuss and his friends
• Fun Brain (www.funbrain.com): Play games while practicing math and reading skills
• PBS Kids (www.pbs.org): Hang out with your favorite characters, all while learning
• Star Fall (www.starfall.com): Practice your phonics skills with read-along stories
• Storyline Online (www.storylineonline.net): Have movie stars read some of your favorite stories to you
• Highlights Kids (www.highlightskids.com): Read, play games and conduct science experiments
Scholastic launches “Learn at Home” website
CNN reported March 15 that educational company Scholastic went live with a website of daily courses for students from Pre-kindergarten to grades six and higher. (https://classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html)
Lauren Tarshis, senior vice president and editor-in-chief of Scholastic Classroom Magazines said in the report, “As more and more teachers, students and families around the world are affected by the coronavirus, our priority is to support them in the best way we know how — by providing them with rich stories and meaningful projects that will keep kids academically active.”
The website is divided into four sections based on grade level, and the courses provide approximately three hours of learning per day.
The website is accessible on any internet device, and will remain free and open indefinitely.
While everyone forges forward through an unprecedented and unfamiliar situation, it’s still possible to lend your children an educational hand so they can continue becoming everything they dream.
Virtual field trips
Children don’t even need to leave their couch or favorite chair to take advantage of some great cultural opportunities. They can take virtual tours of some of the world’s most-famous museums via virtual museum tours in the Google Arts & Culture’s collection.
According to a story at travelandleisure.com, the collection, “Includes the British Museum in London, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Guggenheim in New York City, and literally hundreds more places where you can gain knowledge about art, history and science. This collection is especially good for students who are looking for ways to stay on top of their studies while schools are closed.”