Public Health

School's Out. Now What?

If you're suddenly home-schooling, here are some resources to help out.

By Julia Silverman March 13, 2020

Congrats, parents of Oregon kids who attend public school—you are now a homeschool teacher. 

Oh, sure, Professor Netflix will be in session during our "extended spring break" when schools close Monday, March 16, by executive order from Gov. Kate Brown. They won't reopen for students until Wednesday, April 1, at the earliest. And yes, one of the few things you can still safely do with your kids is go take a hike or a walk, so recess and PE are covered (so long as you practice that social distancing). But eventually, and especially if the school closures wind up stretching further into April, you might have to think about teaching them something.

(Disclaimer: This is absolutely not possible for everyone, especially those who don't have flexible work schedules, and emergency responders and health care workers. In fact, that's one reason why officials resisted widespread public school closures in Oregon as long as they did, because there are serious equity concerns at hand. Not every family has access to the distance learning tools and technology that we are about to recommend.)

For those who do find themselves suddenly in charge of teaching their children, here are a few places that might help with your lesson planning.

Khan Academy: One of the best free sites around, with excellent grade-leveled math programming, plus growing amounts of content in arts and humanities. Notable for having options for kids from ages 2-18, in an easily navigable format. Downside: Low-tech demo videos that tend to lose kids' interest.

BrainPop: Engaging lesson plans aimed at tweens, with a special emphasis on history and current events. Doesn't shy away from tackling tough topics, from alcoholism to terrorism. This is a usually a pay-to-play site, but during the coronavirus crisis, they are allowing families to sign up for free.

Mango Languages: Via Multnomah County Library, this online language learning tool offers basic intro courses to more than 40 languages, plus more comprehensives courses for those who want to do a deeper dive. There's even a special section for the littlest learners, aimed at kids ages 0-6.

Try your hand at the Student Podcast Challenge, sponsored by NPR—but first, listen and take action to their handy series on how to make an awesome, kid-fueled podcast.  

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