Online Resources for Parents: 7 Tools to Help Your Child Focus at Home
If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that teaching is hard. Admittedly, remote schooling is much more difficult than being in the classroom, but still – getting your child to sit down and focus can be stressful. But you’re not alone with your struggle. These 7 online resources for parents are built to support you both through this school year and beyond. Find videos, games, apps, and other content to help your child focus at home.
1. Wide Open School: Free games, apps, lessons, and videos to help your child focus in all their school subjects (plus a few extra.)
(Image courtesy of Wide Open School.)
Each students thinks, feels, and learns differently. Wide Open School encourages and provides materials for diverse learning, both in subject matter and learning styles. They offer materials for students of all grade levels. Your child can learn the order of operations through building a planet, or learn simple stretches with a five minute kid-friendly video.
They also offer learning materials for a really unique subject: digital citizenship. This content teaches children how to check for biases in the news, how to present themselves online, and how to stay safe online.
And for parents, you can find:
- printable daily and weekly calendars to fill out
- hands-on and self-directed activities for your child
- information concerning your student’s mental health and wellbeing
- support from real teachers on navigating home learning
- an entire collection of guides to support your child with everything, from building routines to working with Google Classroom
- a digital citizenship curriculum (there are curriculums designed for every grade level) to go through with your child
With activities, worksheets, online guides, videos, ebooks, and Q&A sections – all these online resources for parents – you have an entire learning support toolbox at your fingertips.
2. Reading Vine: Free reading sets, comprehension questions, and printable activities to improve your child’s reading skills fast.
They’re vital Common Core reading skills for K – 12 students. These skills are also vital for reading and learning in general. Many parents have not been exposed to these concepts, which is why Reading Vine offers free explanations and teaching guides specifically geared towards parents.
Free parent topics/materials include:
- Grade-specific sample reading passages and reading sets
- Searchable database to filter readings for genre, topics, even word count
- Reading comprehension questions and answers
- Topic specific questions (and answers) to go along with reading examples: identifying figurative language, character traits, etc.
- Printable worksheets and activities to help your child focus at home and disconnect from the computer
- Guides on how to teach young students
3. Learning Heroes: A giant hub of resources in math, reading, and life skills, plus answers to all your questions – from real teachers.
(Image courtesy of Learning Heroes.)
The philosophy behind Learning Heroes: Every parent can be a Learning Hero. But every hero needs support. We’re here to support you and your child at home.
How do they provide this support?
For parents: Learning Hero is both a provider of content and a hub of free online resources for parents from all over the web. Search your child’s specific grade and subject matter, and you’re presented with at least 100 resources on relevant subject matter, including videos, websites, and PDFs.
They also developed a guide to distance learning and #AskATeacher, a collection of answers to all your burning questions about helping your child at home. Learn about motivating your child to learn, structuring learning at home, and gauging student success, among other crucial topics.
Parent topics include:
- Math: K – 12 subject matter
- Reading: K – 12 subject matter
- Life skills: social and emotional skills
- Parent-teacher collaboration: how to foster open communication and engage in academic planning
- High school/college readiness: help your child make career choices and prepare for post-secondary education (financially)
4. Code.org: Learn coding through short lessons and simple games – even kindergarteners can join in!
(Image courtesy of Code.org.)
The future is fueled by technology, with computer scientists and engineers at the helm – why not introduce your child to coding concepts early?
Through simple lessons, freeform projects, and even games like Minecraft, a child of any grade level can start coding. They can complete a project, start-to-finish, in an hour with the site’s Hour of Code.
Even if you don’t know how to code, you can show them projects from the website that inspire them, start lessons for them, and (most importantly) ask them to show you what they’re working on. This is a great way to instill some independence in your child while still checking in on them.
If you’re feeling bold, you can even ask them to teach you what they’re learning. Learning-by-teaching is one of the most effective ways to build understanding and transfer information from short-term to long-term memory.
5. Understood: The go-to resource for parents of children with special needs.
This website is full of online resources for parents to help their special needs child get any and all support they need to flourish. There is a wealth of guides on empowering your special needs child, facing common learning challenges, managing feelings, and engaging in social situations. The site also offers ways to connect with your child’s teachers.
From downloadable communication checklists for parent-teacher conferences, to online worksheets to help your child focus and get organized at home, to webinars about advocating for your child’s needs, this site has it all.
Related: What Is an IEP in Education?
6. myHomework: The cross-platform app to keep up with your child’s schedule.
Virtual class meetings, hybrid-learning schedules, and constantly changing online due dates are hard for any student to manage. This app, which syncs across smartphones and browser extensions, helps your child manage all of it, while you (and their teachers) oversee them.
Your child can use the color-coded block planner to schedule classes and meetings. They can prioritize assignments by class, and the app tracks them as upcoming, overdue, or complete. You can also add recurring tasks, set reminders, and teach your child how to prioritize and organize their time.
The app is free, but the paid account ($4.99/year) has extremely valuable benefits for you and your child. With the paid app, your child can attach files (such as assignment instructions or a syllabus), import finished homework files, and allow guardian access.
You, as a guardian (your child can add many guardians, if there are several people overseeing their schooling), get full access to their calendar whenever you want. Sync their calendar to your Google, Outlook, or iCal calendar. Sign up for email notifications about upcoming assignments.
The best way to use this resource is to sit down with your child and help them plan their week. Include school and life activities. Help your child focus at home by showing them how to prioritize work. All this planning will guide them towards independence.
And while you’re helping them plan, spend some time planning your own week. You have the opportunity to be a role model and keep yourself organized.
7. Pomofocus.io: Research-backed apps to teach your child fundamental focusing skills.
If you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique, here’s a quick rundown. Essentially, it’s a way to use time and brainpower more effectively. Research has proven that taking short breaks is actually good for productivity. Specifically, twenty-five minutes of work followed by a five minute break is the optional work cycle, or “a Pomodoro.”
This technique may seem a little mature for younger children. It may also seem unrealistic for kids to employ these techniques using the internet.
But you are underestimating your child for two reasons:
- Kids right now are much more naturally adept at using technology than most adults. They’re growing up with it — many parents haven’t.
- Young brains are much more malleable than parent brains (after twenty-five, your brain is fully developed, and it’s hard to change habits now. It’s not impossible, just way more difficult.)
Enter Pomofocus.io, a free website/browser extension that makes the Pomodoro technique extremely easy to use. The Pomodoro timers (twenty-five minutes, then a five minute break) are already set. You can change these numbers, and add in a long break at any point.
Add tasks that your children can mark complete. Add sound notifications to signal when they should put work on pause. Set the timer to automatically start the rest Pomodoro sequence, so no one has to remember to start them again.
After you show them the ropes, your child can do all of this themselves. Students of all levels can use this browser extension, it’s so easy.
If you are doing any kind of task alongside your child (job-related, house chores, personal projects, etc.) follow the Pomofocus timers, too.
Create consistency now, and you and your child will build effective life habits.
8. Center for Disease Control (CDC): Online interactive checklists and activities to help your child transition to the next school year, post-COVID.
(Image courtesy of the CDC.)
However your child’s next school year is set up – fully in-person, hybrid-schooling, or completely remote – rest assured that the CDC has provided resources for all of the above. They offer a huge variety of tips, resources, and activities for parents (and students) to finish this school year and prepare for the next one.
- printable PDF and interactive web checklists to prepare for in-person, hybrid, and remote learning
- age-specific mental health toolkits to help your child cope during and after COVID-19
- access to free Social Emotional Learning (SEL) resources for caregivers
Prepare for a safe transition to the next school year. And get the best research-backed information on keeping your child as healthy as possible.
Information is the key to success.
These online resources for parents give you the background knowledge and interactive tools to:
- Watch over your child’s education and mental/emotional health.
- Transition between in-person and virtual learning (if needed.)
- Teach them independence.
- Give yourself some breathing room.
Now, all that’s left is to get started.
Ready to work with your child at home? Why not start with some interactive reading and critical thinking activities?