For millions of Americans, day-to-day life just took a U-turn and landed many in situations that no one could have expected, let alone prepared for. I’ll leave the political and medical rigamarole to other websites authors and instead, focus on make lemonade out of lemons. With countless kids now essentially telecommuting for school and us “grown-ups” left figuring out how to work from home, many companies are offering free temporary access to programs and platforms to aid and assist in the midst of these unprecedented circumstances we’ve found ourselves navigating.
We’ve already covered a handful of resources that companies are offering to telecommuters and educators during this time of “social distancing” brought on as a means to prevent and slow the spread of illness. However, the past week has seen droves of companies in the business and EDU sectors jump in to lend a helping hand for the many who are now at home and looking for ways to entertain the kids and still be productive. This is by no means an exhaustive list but I wanted to take the time to share a few that could be extremely helpful during this time.
This one should pluck at the heartstrings of kids and adults alike. There was nothing quite like heading to school with a few dollars in your backpack knowing that, when your class was called, you were headed to the Book Fair. Since the ’80s, Scholastic has been setting up shop at schools around the country to offer not only books but educational tools, toys, classroom accessories and more. With the dawn of the internet, you can pretty much visit the Book Fair anytime you want with Scholastic’s online shop as well as complement your child’s learning with their online educational resources.
Now that many children will be learning remotely via “non-traditional” methods, Scholastic is offering a Learn at Home website that will provide 20 days worth of articles, videos and activities to keep kids engaged and learning while away from the classroom.
We know that missing school isn’t easy for your kids—or for you. But weLauren Tarshis
also know that there are simple ways to turn unexpected time at home
into exciting opportunities for your students to learn, think, and grow.
Sr. VP, Editor in Chief & Publisher
The programs are completely free and offer content for Pre-K all the way to 6th grade. Each level currently contains five lessons with more being added over the coming weeks to total twenty when it’s all said and done. You can read the full story in a letter from Scholastic here and find the Learn at Home website at the link below. You will have to set up and account but no worries, it’s free.
Age of Learning
You may not be familiar with Age of Learning but chances are good that you have heard of ABCMouse. Age of Learning is the company behind the educational website as well as Reading IQ and Adventure Academy. The latter is very similar to ABCMouse .com but it focuses on ages 8-13. Reading IQ is dedicated solely to helping children advance their reading skills while encouraging them to “love reading.”
For schools affected by closures, Age of Learning is offering free home access to all three websites. Our local school district has already set this up and sent out letters to give parents access to the site. If your child’s school hasn’t looked into this yet, I encourage you to send a letter to your administrators so they can begin the enrollment process as you cannot take advantage of the resources on an individual basis. You can find the enrollment website here.
Online and remote learning is great but it’s easy to get sucked into a computer screen and sit for hours without any physical activity and that’s just not healthy. Activedinc’s Walkabouts is a website dedicated to learning in motion. As the name implies, the lessons encourage kids to get up and move as they go through the lessons that are flash-based virtual tours of a wide variety of subjects. Lessons range from Pre-K to 2nd grade and are free for anyone to use. Find out more and how to log in here.
Note: Walkabouts requires Flash which is disabled by default on your Chromebook. You can enable it by going to the site’s settings. Click the lock icon to the right of the URL and select site settings. Enable Flash and reload the site.
For Telecommuters working from home, we’ve already discussed a couple of resources including Google’s Gsuite upgrades and Loom videos offerings for educators but there are plenty more companies who are pitching in to help employees and families who are now working and learning from home. For educational resources, one website has taken on the daunting task of compiling a list of more than a hundred websites that offer free tools either all of the time or temporarily to aid parents and children during this period of off-site learning. You can find that list at the link below.
All of these tools are incredible and it’s great to see so many companies getting on board to curb what could potentially be a national crisis but it’s all useless if you don’t have a reliable internet connection. While many schools and libraries are keeping computer labs open for those needed internet access, it isn’t the best choice considering the theme of the day is social distancing. Thankfully, some of the larger internet and cable providers are doing their part to help.
Comcast and Spectrum have both rolled out 60 days of free internet for K-12 students living in qualifying low-income households. Additionally, both companies have opened their Wifi hotspots to everyone which means you don’t need an account to access thousands of Wifi points around the country. Comcast also has assistance for getting a low-cost computer for families who qualify for the Internet Essentials plan that normally costs $9.95/month but requires no credit check, contract of installation fees. You can find each company’s enrollment page below. If you are Comcast’s region, you can apply for Internet Essentials here. Potential Spectrum customers can call 1-844-488-8395.