During this crazy past year and a half, maybe you found yourself trying to entertain your kids while working from home.
With schools and daycare centers closed, the stress of focusing on your kids and keeping up with your job at the same time may have been overwhelming.
Add homeschooling on top of that… and you were probably in a situation where everyone was demanding your attention at the same time, no one was happy, and it was pandemonium all around.
This is a miserable way to live, and it’s not sustainable. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you would like some fresh ideas and resources for keeping your kids engaged while you work and homeschool, in case you ever find yourself in that situation again, I got you covered!
My background as a former teacher helped me sort through the zillions of options out there and pick out the best free or low-cost resources for my son. I’ve been homeschooling now for over seven years, all while working and traveling around the world.
Homeschooling may sound like a lot to take on if you’re working at the same time, but it’s really not. What makes it work is a combination of a flexible work schedule, a great curriculum, and a daily routine.
Whether you already have an online curriculum you are using, or are starting from scratch, I’ve found some incredible websites and apps you can use to supplement your kid’s learning.
Before We Start: An Essential Piece of Hardware You’ll Need
Make sure you have a printer. Kids need to be able to write and draw, especially young kids.
My favorite printer is the HP Tango, which is tiny, wireless, and travels easily. Remember that with homeschooling, your printer can get a lot of use with the endless worksheets and digital printouts, so be sure and research the best printer for your needs.
What to consider when looking for a printer:
- Color or black and white? Bright colors may be more appealing to younger kids.
- Laser or inkjet? Laser printers can be more expensive upfront, but inkjets require frequent ink refills.
Do you need the printer to be easily mobile? For traveling, the Tango printer is a good option. If you are staying put and will be printing out piles of worksheets, a color laser printer might be worth the investment.
Now that that’s out of the way, here’s my roundup of the 10 best homeschool resources for kids.
Education Disguised as Games Your Kids Will Love
I used ABC Mouse when my son was little, as it’s geared toward younger kids. The site comes with reading, math, art, and social studies curriculums and has bright colors and educational games. My son definitely enjoyed it.
There is also a phonics program for learning how to read. It starts with a free 30-day trial period.
Use this site if your kids are suddenly at home and you need something quick that is both super fun and educational.
Another site that I like is called Adventure Academy. Your kid can use it as an app right on their iPad. This is for kids that outgrow ABCMouse (it’s made by the same company). I did find the setup to be tricky, so just be ready for that.
I loved this site when my son was young, about 5. He used it quite a bit while we were traveling.
There’s an app version as well, but it costs money, while the website is free. It’s kid-friendly games that teach your kids how to read with phonics and cute little monsters.
A Fun and Educational YouTube Channel
Homeschool Pop is a YouTube channel mostly for ages five and up. I use it to supplement my lessons with my son nearly every week.
They have all kinds of videos in subjects such as math and social studies. They have lessons about the constitution, the meaning behind different holidays, and tons more subjects.
Online Lessons That Walk Your Kids Through New Concepts
5. Khan Academy
This website is flat-out education without the games, and honestly, I find their stuff to be quite dry. But I do use it and it is a great option to further explain concepts my son is working on.
If I’m on a fractions lesson and I can’t find a lesson on Homeschool Pop, I’ll have my son use Khan Academy.
Khan Academy does have full-on classes, and they are especially strong in all areas of Math. Teachers even use Khan Academy to supplement their curriculum. And it’s completely free.
Teachers create their own courses and offer them online here. If your kid has a particular interest, they probably offer a course.
- If your child is struggling with writing, they offer a course called Pokemon Paragraphs, a Pokemon-themed writing lesson.
- If you’re doing short-term homeschooling, you could pop your kid onto OutSchool and have them do a Harry Potter-themed astronomy class. It’ll keep them busy with something enjoyable that’s still educational.
Overall, OutSchool offers out-of-the-box, innovative courses. I consider it to be mostly supplementary material to reinforce core classes.
The Best Online Places to Find Printables and Teaching Resources
The Teachers Pay Teachers website is a terrific place for finding printables. You can search based on your child’s grade level.
I like to download a huge packet of printables, and then also find some videos on Homeschool Pop or OutSchool. That way, I’ll have all the lessons I need for my son for the entire week, and I’ll have him do a page or two each day.
Teachers Pay Teachers also has printables that can be colored and cut out, so your kids have manipulatives to use at home. I like these because my son gets away from the screen and does some hands-on work for a little while.
The cost of printables on Teachers Pay Teachers is minimal and goes towards helping teachers who generally already have a developed curriculum.
8. Sparkle Box
I use the Sparkle Box website for printables to enhance lessons or if my son is bored and needs a new activity. You will find tons of free printables from preschool through 8th grade.
If you want to do something like make some masks or do fairy tale crafts, this is a great place to look. They have lots you can print, cut, set up, and color.
Where to Find and Order Awesome Workbooks
9. Brain Quest
Brain Quest makes incredible workbooks from preschool through grade 6. You may remember Brain Quest for the decks of cards with challenging questions on them.
Well, they make workbooks too. They’re perfect for supplementing lessons or maintaining skills over the summer.
The Brain Quest workbooks cover all the subjects, but in my opinion, they are strongest in math and science. For social studies and writing, I use the other resources I mentioned above like Teachers Pay Teachers, HomeSchool Pop, or Outschool.
The Brain Quest workbooks are very good and you can order right from Amazon at the level you need.
An Unexpected & Often Forgotten Resource for Teaching Your Kids
10. iBooks or Kindle App
Let’s not forget we have the power to read books right on the iPad.
We have immediate access to nearly all the books in the world, right at our fingertips!
My son has been using the iBooks app since he was little because we’ve always traveled a lot. We couldn’t carry a ton of books around, but I still wanted him to read. Thanks to iBooks, he’s been reading quite a variety of books.
Here is an example of how I tie it all together:
- My son is currently reading a book about Martin Luther King Jr.
- This is supplementing a packet that I got from the Teachers Pay Teachers website.
- Next, he’ll watch a Homeschool Pop YouTube video on the subject.
- He will finish it off with a book report on Martin Luther King Jr. and make his own video.
Routines and Why I Like Them as a Homeschooling Mom
Without a routine, it’s mayhem around here! So, every day from 9:00 am to 11:00 am for the entire week, my son does homeschool. He has a typed-up list of assignments and tasks that he refers to. I always make the list for the upcoming week so I’m usually about a week ahead.
It may be that your kids are too young to follow a list on their own, but you can make the list for yourself along with a schedule. I find that being organized and having a routine is essential.
Time to Get Started With Homeschooling
Now you have resources to begin creating your own homeschool routine. Use them to create an entire curriculum, or just use them after school.
Maybe some days your kid would prefer to read, while other days they would prefer a more hands-on activity with a printable. Either way, be sure and set up a daily routine and plan your homeschool lessons ahead.
If you homeschool, having time to support your kids with their learning is important. An inflexible job where you are required to be at your computer at fixed times is difficult to manage while homeschooling.
If you’re having a hard time figuring out the types of jobs that offer a flexible work arrangement, I offer a free class to fill you in on how to get started as a virtual assistant. Learn about the higher-end skills clients are looking for such as social media management, podcasting, video management, and content repurposing.
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Diana Germain is a virtual assistant and member of 90 Day VA specializing in content creation and social media management. When she’s not helping online entrepreneurs by writing SEO-optimized blogs and enhancing their social media presence, she is teaching 8th-grade math at a local middle school.
She also enjoys getting out into the Colorado wilderness with her husband, two children, and Labrador Retriever Hobie.
To see all the services she offers and how she can help you, check out her LinkedIn profile here.