Tried and True: Five Online Learning Sites Your Kids Can Enjoy

Melting popsicles and sticky fingers, running barefoot through soft green grass, camping adventures through the Rockies. All scrapbook memories to include in a summer well spent. While my crew plans to take advantage of these extra-long sunny days, I am proud to say I’ve raised an autodidact.

With schools having transitioned to online learning, the majority of working parents had to adapt to a new challenge: homeschooling. Summon Bill Nye.

Take a look at Mozart. Under his father’s eye, he started his musical education at the age of four and by five was deemed a child prodigy. Performing musical tours all over Europe. Not bad for pre-school. If this is what it takes to get on the fast track as a valedictorian, proceeding a full-ride to Harvard, and of course, Pultizer Prize candidate…(jokes aside) While the answer isn’t entirely clear to whether or not in-person education will continue in August, familiarizing our family with reliable online resources now will ensure we’re sprinting out the gate come Fall.
Online Education Factors to Consider:

  • How reputable is the school?
  • How vast is the curriculum?
  • Is it a ‘sit and watch’ or interactive class? We like activities and a fully decorated fridge!
  • And the deal-breaker… are we going to have a little fun?

Online classes, whenever taken, should be an opportunity to brush-up on material, expand your knowledge, and experiment with different avenues. Whether you make it about bonding with your child before dinner or the week-long summer camps have you packing your bag, these five promise to earn you an abnormally-large #1 Parent Mug. Set aside an hour this week to check them out.

Outschool offers dozens of paid online courses for kids 3-18. Costs range from $9 to $200 or more — one 14-week history class costs $245. Kids can learn about a variety of subjects (everything from coding and tech to social studies to sewing) but need to be prepared to commit to regular weekly class times for most courses. The site offers links to some online safety tips but also notes that parents should monitor kids’ participation in classes, which can involve interacting.

Subjects: Arts, English, Life Skills, Music, Social Studies, Coding & Tech, Health and Wellness, Math, Science, Nature, World Languages
Ages: 3-18
Value Proposition: Live classes taught by passionate teachers.
Price: Starting at $5 up to $200 for 14-week classes
Recommendation: An extensive list of summer classes

ID Tech

Curious about AI? Dream of launching your own indie game studio? Love Minecraft? Have an eye for design? Whatever your passion, our proprietary curriculum takes you from total beginner to college-bound pro. With our exclusive lineup of courses in coding, game dev, robotics, and creative arts, you’ll hone an impressive skill set, flex your creativity, and experiment with the newest and best tools from Adobe, Epic Games, Nvidia, LEGO, Roblox, and more.

Subjects: Coding, Robotic, Game Dev, Creative
Ages: 3-17
Value Proposition: Virtual tech camps and online private lessons
Price: $729-$1129 for day-long, overnight and multi-week campers
Recommendation: Have a child destined for stardom? Learn how to entertain and build an audience with a course on making a Youtube channel

K12 Inc

K12 offers three distinct options including tuition-free online public school, tuition-based online private school, and individual online courses from the K12 curriculum. Students gather in virtual classrooms and regularly receive support from their teachers via phone, online meetings, and sometimes in-person.

Subjects: K12 is one of the most popular online sources covering a variety of subjects from K-12, Career Readiness Education, Accredited Courses in STEM, and adult education.
Ages: Pre-school to Adult
Value Proposition: Well established and trusted for advanced learners, college-minded and homeschooled students. They also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Price: Tuition-free for virtual public schools. Subscription-plans starting at $30/mo for higher education.
Recommendation:FREE Summer School Courses

Khan Academy

Khan Academy offers practice exercises, instructional videos, and a personalized learning dashboard that empower learners to study at their own pace in and outside of the classroom. We tackle math, science, computing, history, art history, economics, and more, including K-14 and test preparation (SAT, Praxis, LSAT) content. We focus on skill mastery to help learners establish strong foundations, so there’s no limit to what they can learn next!

Subjects: Math, Science and Engineering, Art and Humanities, Science and Engineering, Computing, Economics and Finance, Test-Prep and Personal Development
Ages: K- Higher Education
Value Proposition: A non-profit offering personalized learning for students and tools for teachers that allow them to tailor the instruction to each student
Price: Free
Recommendation: Khan has created daily schedules to deal with school closures affected by Covid-19
CU Discovery

A highly respected local program, CU Science Discovery is a science education outreach program of the University of Colorado Boulder’s Division of Continuing Education. Each program utilizes CU scientific expertise, equipment, resources and graduate or undergraduate students in order to provide K-12 students and teachers with unique, experiential learning STEM experiences.

Subjects: STEM
Ages: K-12
Value Proposition: Led by enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and experienced instructors, including CU faculty, graduate and undergraduate scientists
Price: Online summer courses from $150
Recommendation: Challenge the reigning Mario Kart champ in your household with CU’s Virtual 3D Video Game Design Course

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.”
―Abigail Adams

My son (parsa) taking an online coding class

Aiming to instill a sense of curiosity in my child has been key to his development. Letting our kids’ experience STEM, the arts, becoming the next internet sensation, whatever the flavor of the week is. While some are born to eloquently play piano keys, it was Carol Dweck who pegged the term growth mindset; that is, continually getting better with practice.

Enjoy summer! Dig into everything. Let your child’s curiosity guide the way. With endless opportunities at our fingertips, potential has no limits.