uI’m sure that you’re all seeing the same thing that I am these days- all of our social media has been taken over by parents looking for ideas on how to keep their children learning and occupied during these times when we are all needing to be home. As a long-term homeschool momma, I have had a lot of people come to me during this time with questions on curriculum, apps, crafts and various other resources. So, I figured creating a list would be really helpful to many! And If you have any ideas that I can add, please let me know! We’re stronger together, right?!
First things first, there are so many approaches to homeschooling and I don’t really think any of them are wrong, it’s really just what works best for your family. Some prefer 100% online curriculum, some prefer a structured classroom style setting and some prefer “unschooling” and doing a minimal amount of curriculum and more learning through life, the outdoors and what interests the child. Wow, talk about a run on sentence! Every child learns differently, every parent has different limits and ideas and therefore, every method of schooling is fantastic.
I want to make sure that I let you know that I know how overwhelmed you feel right now. I know that you have doubts, questions, insecurities and are probably sitting in what you wore to bed, with messy hair, and your cold cup of coffee is still sitting on the counter. Guess what? That’s okay. You’re not alone and it gets easier. YOU can do this. YOU are capable. YOU brought this little human into this world/ into your family because you are strong and can do hard things. And should you need a pep talk, come to me in any way- Instagram, Facebook, E-mail, any of it, and I will pep you the heck up- because we all have our moments when we need someone to help us get through the hard days.
Also, I feel like I need to add this in here- NONE of what you will see in this post is sponsored in any way. I’m simply sharing what we have found to be most useful with learning.
APPS- If I need a break, or feel like the kids do and it’s not nice enough to get outside they love getting a little screen time in! I always aim to keep phone time educational!
I think the best place to start is with some of my favorite apps. Apps are great because they can be done everywhere. I’ll start with my favorite for Little liiiittle ones and go on from there!
*TINY HANDS APPS – We’ve loved these apps since back before Ada (now almost 8) was 2. They are clever puzzles, matching, and sorting games from ages 1-3. The sound effects are perfect for curious little minds and there is always something exciting after each activity has been completed. Positive reinforcement and praise for their hard work encourages your tiny learners to keep going!
*PRESCHOOL PREP APPS – This is another company that we love big time! We own all of the apps (just like the tiny hands) and we also own the DVD’s and some of the books! We use these around the age of 2 and the kids all enjoy them. Your child can learn everything from colors, shapes, numbers and letters to phonics, sight words and even Spanish! The colors and little characters are used consistently and although the voices and songs can be a bit much for parent’s ears after a while, the kids absolutely love them!
*HOMER READING – Homer is a GREAT app and can be accessed on the computer too. It’s free for 30 days, and after that is only $7.99/mo. The nice thing is, if you have more than one child, they can all access the app and all have their very own Learning Path and character. It’s perfect for ages 2-8 years for teaching letters, colors and then on to reading. My kids have loved Homer. If I had to compare it to another popular app, I would compare it to ABCmouse. We had ABCMouse for about 6 years but to be honest, as a parent, I didn’t feel like my kids were really learning anything consistently from it- it was a lot more playing with stickers and decorating their rooms etc. With Homer, they can’t advance until they master a level, and I can see everything they are doing. If you’re going to be spending $7.99 a month, your money would be better put towards a program like Homer.
WEBSITES- Sometimes, life is chaotic and book work seems to be one more stressful thing in the day. Web based learning is great for filling in on those days!
Did you know that there are actual online schools for children k-12? Some of them are virtual, where there is an actual teacher and its similar to a video conference. Just like being in a real classroom. Some of them are similar to online college courses where the student learns and does assignments on their own/with the help of parents. These are not anything that I can personally speak to, but that may be something that is perfect to look into for your family! The Websites that I have experience with are Homer (mentioned above), Reading Eggs (the animation is something I struggled with so we didn’t stick with this), Time4Learning and Education.com.
*Time4Learning – This one is a bit of an investment. However, if you’re not wanting to purchase a curriculum (which is $$$) then this is a great alternative. T4L offers a placement test for your child and has courses like Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Studies. You can learn about homeschooling by your state, you can speak to a counselor about their program and how everything works. You can see your child’s test scores on each assignment and keep a record of the time they spend on their web based curriculum (which is helpful if the State ever got involved and you weren’t using an umbrella school). T4L is $20/month for the first student and I believe $15/month for additional students.
*EDUCATION.COM – Education.com is usually $120/year but when you’re a new member they always offer a deal- I paid $47.95 this year to join and I will tell you why this is the BEST option for you if you’re looking to fill in the weeks of school being out, without going full fledged homeschool life. Education.com gives you the ability to create a profile for each of your children. The yearly membership gets you access to THOUSANDS upon thousands of worksheets, in every subject you can think of. Activities to go along with the subjects like color by number pages and holiday coloring pages etc! You can also find really great and easy to follow lesson plans up through 5th grade! There is also the ability to play games online for your student. Hands on activities, song videos, books, interactive stories and so much more can be found on this easy-to-navigate website! Even if you had to pay the full price, that $120 on the year breaks down to $10 a month. And this can be used over holiday breaks, summer breaks etc! I would compare Education.com to Teachers Pay Teachers (another website for printable worksheets and very basic curriculums). The Nice thing about Education.com is that its a flat rate and you have access to IT ALL. With TPT, for anything that is actually really good (in my opinion- at least for above pre-k level) you have to pay. It may only be $2 here and $8 there, but it adds up. Take it from a momma who has used them all!
EXTRA CURRICULARS & OTHER NEW FINDINGS!!!
Due to everything that is going on in the world right now, so many things have surfaced to help parents and this has my heart so happy! Going to share each of these with you below!
*COSMIC KIDS YOGA– Now on Amazon Prime too! She has her own website (linked) and YouTube channel! So many ways to access! Her yoga lessons for kids ar so much fun and follow a fun story- many of which are stories/movies that are loved by your kids! There is calm down yoga, story time yoga and more. Getting those bodies moving is essential to helping them stay focused!
*PE W/COACH WOOD– a PE teacher from Chattanooga, TN has taken to YouTube to offer your kids a great variety of dances and activities and his #1 rule is to Have Fun! 20 minutes of high activity easy for all ages to follow. PERFECT for these rainy days when you just need to sit and take a breather or focus on YOU!
*LUNCH DOODLES W/MO WILLEMS– ”Mo Willems invites YOU into his studio every day for his LUNCH DOODLE. Learners worldwide can draw, doodle and explore new ways of writing by visiting Mo’s studio virtually once a day for the next few weeks. Grab some paper and pencils, pens, or crayons and join Mo to explore ways of writing and making together.” How great is THIS, y’all?! Art class brought to you by the amazing Mo Willems!
*MISS MEGAN’S CAMP KINDERGARTEN– “As a former kindergarten teacher and current preschool assistant, I’m excited to bring to you… Miss Megan’s Camp Kindergarten! In this time of uncertainty and little structure, let’s add a little routine in our kids’ lives. Starting Monday, March 16th, I will Facebook Live a “Morning Meeting” to get your 3-7 year old’s day started! We will do calendar, counting, days of the week, months of the year, weather, morning message, letter(s) of the day, some guitar playing, and we will end with a book being read.”
I hope some of these quick ideas help make this transition a bit easier for you all! If you ever have questions about resources aside from online or various options for curriculum, I am an open book and always happy to help! I remember doubting myself in the beginning, now, 4 years later I am SO proud of all we have accomplished as a family! You will get there. You can DO THIS. We will all get through these scary times together!