I don’t know about you, but I never signed up for homeschooling. In fact, I proactively explored a teaching career by test-driving it for a year in South Korea as an ESL teacher. A year was enough and I went home knowing it wasn’t for me.
But here we are.
Like many of you, I’m expecting to homeschool my kids for at least the next three weeks — but perhaps the rest of the school year if Ontario follows suit with Alberta. So I’ve been on the hunt for free homeschooling resources and the best options to get through this without all of us turning completely feral.
In the coming days (weeks? months?), I’ll add to this post as needed, and feel free to drop your own resources into the comments. We’re in this together.
And by all means, there’s no judgment here if you decide to unschool either. You’ve got to do what works best for you, your kids and all of the demands being thrown at you. Remember: none of us have been through a pandemic lockdown before, so we’re just rolling with it. Do the best you can. That’s my plan.
IMPORTANT NOTE: if you’ve visited this post before, please be sure to refresh the page before continuing to ensure you have the latest version. New content is being added from time to time and I don’t want to you miss it!
First, a schedule
We need structure. My kids and me. Or we’ll go bonkers and end up collectively stress-eating on the couch. I’ve seen a lot of great schedules floating around that combines academic time, creative time, outdoor/exercise time and screen time. For us, it will be about balance but with a healthy dose of family TV time. Because escapism is OK.
This schedule is borrowed heavily from Julie Cole (founder of Mabel’s Labels). Yes, I told her ahead of time I was stealing it. Feel free to download a printable PDF version here. Better still? Make your own! Heck, make one with your kids. Colour it, doodle on it, whatever. That should take up a good 45 minutes.
“Play time” will end up being everything from gaming to solo play to sibling play that will inevitably lead to fighting. I can’t wait.
Free homeschooling resources
I don’t want to spend a lot of time here making this look all fancy. My only goal here is to share easy-to-access information about the free homeschooling resources I’ve found online to help us weather the school closures due to COVID-19.
To be clear, I still haven’t come close to using most of these. Again: NOT A WILLING HOMESCHOOLER. But I’m definitely going to be giving many a try in the coming days and weeks.
While in its latest iteration, I have now categorized resources to make it easier to jump to sections based on subject areas, I haven’t further broken them down by age. In large part, that’s because I’m aiming to update this as quickly as possible. In small part, it’s because not all students and interests are created equally; what one grade 5 student may find easy, another may find challenging and another still may find totally boring.
You’ve got time on your hands…so don’t worry about being too laser-focused.
After you dig into and bookmark this post, check out my post about lots of other fun things to do at home for kids to keep them occupied. So you can, you know, pee with the door closed (or something like that).
Reading, writing & typing
Find it here — as long as there are school closures, it’s free for kids (available on a bunch of different devices).
Find it here — for K-3, lots of learn-to-read activities.
Find it here — read, play games and hang with rhyme-master Dr. Seuss.
Find it here — organized day by day, there are separate learning experiences built around a story or video. Divided into four age groups: pre-K & kindergarten, grades 1-2, grades 3-5 and grade 6+.
Find it here — for reading skills, divided between two groups: ages 3-8 and 8-15.
Find it here — streams videos featuring actors reading children’s books with creatively produced illustrations.
Find it here — learn how to type properly, with challenges and badges.
Find it here — a digital library, which usually requires a subscription, announced that 6,000 of its e-books will be available to the public for free.
Find it here — an online library with e-books, audio books and magazine articles, is free for 30 days.
Aaron Cappell Music
Find it here — live-streamed music classes from an elementary school music teacher in Toronto. (So fun! We did one last week!)
Find it here — scholarly content is temporarily available that includes the Music Library Association, which has articles on music history.
The Metropolitan Opera
Science & nature
Find it here — boredom busters, videos and homework help.
Find it here — play games and learn about animals.
Find it here — science lessons for K-5.
Find it here — highschool chemistry
Find it here — K-6 math skills games.
Find it here — free 1:1 math tutoring with Ontario Certified Teachers for grade 6-10 students.
Find it here — math, math, math! But in video game format. This is the one resource in this list I’m super familiar with because my kids love it.
Find it here — math practise (counting, algebra and geometry included).
History, geography & social studies
History for Kids
Find it here — created by a child for children, providing cool info about the history of the Middle Ages, Greece, Rome and more.
All of the above & miscellaneous learning
Ontario Ministry of Education
Find it here — this is the official site for curriculum-sanctioned resources.
Find it here — the Ontario Ministry of Education’s designated partner in distance education for high school (English and French). Right now, they are offering free 24/7 access to the content of any of its nearly 150 grade 9-12 online courses.
The Canadian Homeschooler
Find it here — math, English, French, science, history, geography (from preschool to high school).
Find it here — geography, flags, world leaders, art and math all under one fun roof.
Find it here — practice exercises, instructional videos and a personalized learning dashboard that covers math, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics and more.
Find it here — math, spelling, vocab, cursive, etc. worksheets.
Find it here — free printable worksheets from K-8, including algebra.
Find it here — math and Reading games.
1, 2, 3 Homeschool 4 Me
Find it here — more than 300,000 printable worksheets for toddlers to teens.
Find it here — math and reading games.
Find it here — your kids need a subscription, but it’s free and they may already have it through their schools like mine do. It’s a kid-friendly intro to coding that lets them see the fruits of their labour in real time. The K Man LOVES this!
Virtual museum tours & field trips
Here, you’ll find — 12 museums around the world offering free virtual tours (the Guggenheim, British Museum, Rijksmuseum…).
Here, you’ll find — the San Diego Zoo, Yellowstone National Park, a farm, rocket museum, The Louvre and even the Great Wall of China with your kids, from the comfort of your home computer.
Here, you’ll find — FarmFood 360, a Canadian site that offers 11 virtual tours of farms (minks, pigs, cows, apples, etc.)
Find it here — although free, you’ll need some help to access this, but it would be worth it to give your K-12 kids access to Adobe InDesign and Photoshop (two notoriously expensive subscriptions). Free access will be granted until May 31, 2020. However, the request must come from the IT admin of a school who’s an Adobe client. Head to Adobe’s website to access the online form.
Find it here — for preschoolers through school-aged kids, TVO has heaps and heaps of edu-taining content.
Find it here — obviously, this is only “free” if you already have a Netflix subscription.
Find it here — play and learn with your favourite show characters.
Interested in some easy family meals and recipes you can tackle with your kids? I’ve got you covered.
Additional resources from other content creators
- Homeschooling mom Holly G Jury has a VERY, VERY long list of resources here
- Nadia Carriere has created a post that lists even more ideas here
- Urban Mommies also created a “how not to go bananas during COVID-19” post here
- Play Party Plan compiled a list of 50 things to do at home with the kiddies here
- Mandy from Sparkly Shiny Love has some fun ideas and a link to a big Pinterest board of even more ideas here
I hope this helps! If you’re an experienced homeschooler and can offer other advice, please chime in. We need you.
DISCLAIMER: I’ve barely done anything except open many of these posts so far to get the links, so there may be some overlap between them. Some resources provided by friends, others by educators in private groups. Thank you to everyone who’s out there sharing.