There’s nothing like being self-isolated at home with school-aged children to give parents a new appreciation for teachers. Thrust into the dual role of parent and teacher, all of us, if we’re honest, have moments of quiet desperation. How do I get this information across in a way that will stick? How exactly do you teach long division? Am I ever again going to get a moment to myself, and for myself?
Fortunately, you are not alone. There are abundant online resources that can help parents not only with the nitty-gritty of more formal teaching, but also with entertaining and educational activities you can do with your children — particularly preschoolers and kindergarteners.
In this article, we will share some places online where you can find interactive programs from places like museums, aquariums, and nature preserves. They are both fun and educational. We’ll also suggest some great online resources to help you with the more formal aspects of instruction. Many of these resources are linked from the helpful LiveScience website.
A companion article (hyperlink) will point you to a great resource from the New York City Department of Education for activities you can do at home with your kids, organized by age and grade level.
Interactive programs for parents teaching at home
- The Ultimate Kids’ Guide to the New Coronavirus. A straightforward, informative guide to the virus, its origins, what kids need to know, and why they shouldn’t be scared.
- Virtual Dives from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): Beautifully done, short videos that take you underwater in various great dive spots around the world.
- The Chicago Academy of Sciences Nature Museum puts out a wonderful Wonder at Home newsletter, back issues of which are archived on the museum website. The newsletter includes activities as well as cool videos, like this one focused on how butterflies eat.
- PBS Kids has a wide array of online educational games and videos. Parents might find the perky kid voices on the site grating after a while, but young kids in particular seem to love what is offered here.
- PBS Learning Media offers a more sedate experience, with educational videos and links to supporting materials, for kids from preschool through high school. Highly recommended.
- Google Arts & Culture offers a comprehensive set of links to virtual tours of museums around the world. Enter a museum, click on any work of art, read in-depth about it, zoom in to see details. Really amazing! If you’ve had a summer trip to another country canceled by the virus, here’s a way to visit some highlights virtually.
- The Hidden World of National Parks is another spectacular offering through Google Arts & Culture. Gorgeous videos and interactive, 360-degree photos make you feel as though you are on a guided tour of some of the most spectacular national parks.
- The Hayden Planetarium offers videos about astronomy and the cosmos that bring complex concepts down to a n understandable level without any dumbing-down. Why does earth have seasons? A close-up look at the rings of Saturn, and more.
- Nova Labs offers a series of in-depth and interactive science labs for high school students. Topics range from evolution to the sun to cybersecurity.
- The San Diego Zoo has live webcams showing what various animals are up to, including penguins, baboons, polar bears, giraffes, and more.
Instructional resources for online teaching
- Scholastic Learn at Home offers a treasure-trove of resources for parents of kids from PreK through ninth grade.For preschoolers there’s access to a wide range of books you can read aloud online, listen to a reader, or in some cases, watch an animated video of the book. For older kids, there are books, videos, and activities, all inter-connected.And for middle-schoolers, there are longer, more in-depth articles with embedded slideshows and videos, as well as questions for discussion or writing answers.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute offers a range of ‘science at home’ programs and activities. These include Southern Ocean “Deep Dive” Educational Resources, as well as links to National Science Foundation coding programs, math resources, and many others.
- The Exploratorium in San Francisco website offers a toolbox featuring lessons, activities, videos, and more, generally focused on science. Fort children who have become fascinated by viruses in the current moment, there are many resources allowing them to dive deeper into the topic.
- The formidable, comprehensive Khan Academy has a Khan Academy Kids section that offers a wide array of lessons and materials on every imaginable subject for kids of all ages. There is a great deal to explore here, so dive in! Everything is free, but you’re required to register.
In truth, there are almost limitless options for online learning, activities and diversions to help you and your children to navigate through this challenging time. The lists above barely scratch the service, but provide you with many hours of high-quality options. Enjoy!