Text By C. Scott Wyatt

K

eeping our younger students on track during these unusual times worries parents and teachers. Early studies suggest that the coronavirus pandemic affected students unevenly, an entirely predictable finding. 

Reading at home for 30 minutes daily correlates to maintaining academic progress during the pandemic. Thankfully, you only need a tablet or smartphone to access thousands of books. 

Our local libraries support the free Libby digital librarian app. Using Libby and its Kindle companion app, OverDrive, my daughters have access to thousands of books. The girls enjoy sitting on the couch browsing the virtual library. 

Project Gutenberg remains an excellent source for out-of-copyright and public domain books. More than 60,000 books are available on Gutenberg. We have downloaded many classics from the site, including the entire L. Frank Baum Oz series with the original illustrations. 

The Amazon Fire Tablets we purchased for the girls also include Kindle Unlimited, a service with access to thousands of popular books in the Amazon Prime library. My girls enjoy National Geographic titles. 

Students learn history, science and other subjects through reading. 

Some research also suggests that supplemental online review and tutoring help students retain knowledge in all academic areas. As with books, free lesson review options meet many of our needs. 

The Khan Academy website remains the best virtual tutoring service for our family. The classic Khan Academy lessons resemble classroom lectures and worksheets. Fee-based services similar to Khan Academy include IXL, Varsity Tutors and Time4Learning. Two well-known companies that focus on mathematics are Mathnasium and Kumon. 

Khan Academy Kids features more animations and engaging games. Our daughters still enjoy the Khan Academy Kids app on their tablets, although they are outgrowing the material. 

I wanted to find something as entertaining as Khan Academy Kids, with more challenging content. We decided to subscribe to Adventure Academy by Age of Learning. Adventure Academy uses a steampunk game space to deliver content 

for children from first through sixth grades. 

The pandemic situation reminds me that academic progress reflects artificial milestones that we’ve set for children. Don’t turn days at home into hours of dull worksheets and mediocre virtual learning out of misplaced academic panic. Relax and be patient, even though this is a difficult experience. 

Demonstrate a love for learning and our students will be okay. 

Before bed, we read with the girls. That simple act will help them more than anything else we can do this year. 

 

Mentioned:

  • tularecounty.overdrive.com: Libby and OverDrive digital library apps, serving most public libraries.
  • gutenberg.org: Project Gutenberg free digital library, with thousands of free books. 
  • khanacademy.org: Khan Academy online learning. 
  • learn.khanacademy.org/khan-academy-kids/: Khan Academy Kids apps for Apple, Google and Amazon devices. 
  • abcmouse.com/: ABCMouse features content for children in preschool through kindergarten. 
  • adventureacademy.com/: Adventure Academy features content for children from first through sixth grades.