In order to protect students and communities, schools across California have had to close quickly. This has left many students with limited or no access to their schoolwork. Fortunately, there are thousands of resources available online today for students to continue learning even while their school is closed. However, it is not always clear, which resources parents should direct their students to. It can feel overwhelming when searching through the long list of online resources, but here are some questions to consider when reviewing educational resources for students of all ages.

1. Is this resource age-appropriate?

It is very important that any educational resource for children be appropriate for their age. If a resource is designed for children in middle school, for example, it may be too difficult for a child in third grade causing the child to possibly become upset, frustrated, and/or discouraged. A great way to determine if a resource is age-appropriate is to have your child read a sentence or a paragraph, or to watch a short portion of a video, then ask them to explain in their own words what they’ve read or watched. If it is very difficult for your child to do this, the resource may be too advanced for them and you should consider a different resource.

2. Is this resource aligned to my child’s learning?

Another critical thing to consider is if the topic of a resource is relevant to what your child has been learning in school. When looking for online resources for your child, you may first want to have a conversation with them about what they had been learning about before school closed. Some questions you could ask your child include:

  1. What books were you reading?
  2. What were you writing about?
  3. What were you learning in math?
  4. What science topics have they been covering?
  5. Have you been learning about any history topics recently?

Parents can also review their child’s textbooks or recent homework to learn more about what online resources will align with what their child has been learning in the classroom.

3. Does this resource challenge my child?

Learning is about growth and growth happens when children are challenged. Providing resources that are too easy can prevent a child from learning something new. A great way to learn if a resource is challenging is to check in with your child regularly. You can ask them questions like:

  1. Was this activity easy or hard?
  2. How can I help you with this activity?
  3. What questions do you have about this activity and how can we find the answer?

Ensuring that children are challenged is very important for their growth as a learner, and parents can monitor how challenging individual resources are by checking in and asking questions of their child regularly.

4. Is this resource aligned to standards?

Teaching and learning standards are used by educators to determine the topics and skills that students learn at different ages. The “Common Core” standards are used by many states, including California. Some resources may have a “standards” section where parents can learn about how the resource aligns with the teaching and learning standards that apply to their child. Not all resources will have this information, but those that do can provide extra comfort to parents since parents will be able to know for certain that the resources are appropriate for the age of their child. It is always great to know that a child is learning the right information for their age and/or grade in school. 

5. Is this resource engaging for my child?

Learning can be fun! A great way to keep children interested in learning is to provide resources that are exciting and interesting to them. Does your child love outer space? If so, they can read stories about space that teach them reading skills like comprehension, add words to their vocabulary, explain the importance of the sun or life on earth, and teach them about other wonders of our solar system.  Some children love math and playing games! There are many free online games available where students use math and numbers to complete challenges. Finding exciting resources can help keep children interested in learning and help them stay focused.

Although your child’s school is closed, it does not mean they cannot keep learning. There are many resources available to support their learning but finding the right ones for your child is very important. Using the questions and tips above can help parents find resources that are a good fit for their child, align with what their child should be learning, and are both challenging and fun to encourage children to continue their education outside of their classroom.

Visit our list of curated resources and perhaps explore a couple with your child.

This article was written by Jeffrey Wiser, Program Manager,  Families In Schools. About Jeffrey: Jeffrey Wiser manages and facilitates two Professional Learning Networks bringing together parent and community engagement leaders to build capacity around the Local Control Funding Formula, Local Control Accountability Plan, California School Dashboard, etc. He is also a former high school teacher and analytics contributor for the Athletic AZ. Learn more.

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