The Ultimate Guide: Resources to Keep Your Kids (and You!) Learning During the Coronavirus Shutdown

Updated: Mar 19

The coronavirus (aka COVID-19) has taken its hold on the US. Shutting down schools, restaurants, and even whole cities. During this time, we know it can be hard for parents to try to continue teaching their kids everything they need to know but are missing due to the prolonged class cancellations. We also recognize that many students may be wondering how this affects the track they were on for graduation, future educational goals, and preparation for any future academic endeavors. We’re here to help. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite resources for learning outside the classroom: from worksheets to YouTube channels.

1) Khan Academy

By far the most well-known source of online courses, Khan Academy offers everything from Kindergarten Math through Differential Equations as well as History, Test Prep, career training, programming, science, economics, and more. This is your one stop shop for most topics and a great resource for procedural as well as conceptual breakdowns of the subject matter at hand. Khan Academy is a great resource for working your way through a curriculum the teacher may have provided or just learning more about a new topic that interests you.

2) MinutePhysics

This Youtuber, Henry Reich, does an exceptional job explaining all those answers to the questions your children might ask about physics, space, and more. He breaks down even the most complex topics into laypersons’ terms, so you can have an answer to all those why questions you may get over the coming weeks. My favorite video from MinutePhysics is his Proof Without Words (link here) where he breaks down how we get the formula for the area of a circle. Even if you aren’t a student taking physics or don’t have an eternally inquisitive child, these videos are intriguing and the perfect way to learn something new while cooped up. Is it better to walk or run in the rain? Answer here.

3) Teachers Pay Teachers

If you’ve watched all the videos, read all the blogs, but still need worksheets and practice problems for you or your student to practice on then is the place to go. While the content isn’t always free (sorry!) it is crowdsourced from teachers themselves helps our hardworking educators as they are this site has thousands of options for you to choose from and can be easily filtered by subject and grade level then searched for the specific topic or chapter you’re looking for. Some of them even break offer multiple ways to solve the same problems, so you can understand the Common Core method your child might have been taught. This site is perfect even after the pandemic because it provides plenty of options for additional practice if you feel like your child needs more chances to master the content. If you have any questions when you’re looking through the options, feel free to call us and ask! We’re happy to look through the choices and provide a recommendation.

4) PatrickJMT

If you’re in high school math or above and Khan Academy just wasn’t your cup of tea, check out PatrickJMT on Youtube. He has A LOT of videos showing you how solve the problems you could be struggling with. He has been at it for quite some time and has 1.5 million subscribers, so he clearly resonates with some. Check him out of you need a different approach or a second explanation. You might find you prefer him over other sources.

5) No Red Ink is on a mission to build better writers, and they’re the perfect site to do it. Recommended to me by an English teacher (S/O Miss T!), they have use a freemium model with a curriculum library featuring lessons, practice, and quizzes the provide the perfect opportunity for you to sharpen your English skills. They even allow you to browse by topic, so you can skip the topics you have already mastered.

6) Grammar Girl

While finding her grammar related works at can be a bit of a pain, Grammar Girl is a renowned author and podcaster on all things grammar. Her podcast Grammar Girl, five-time winner of Best Education Podcast, is a weekly podcast that provides grammar, punctuation, and style tips to make you a better writer. Check it out on your podcasting app. You can also find Grammar Girl books online or at your local library (if you can get there before they close) for even more tips and tricks to take your writing to the next level.

7) The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

This book by former chess prodigy turned martial artist turned author, Josh Waitzkin, is my favorite book focused on how we learn and generate ideas. Josh’s story was the subject of the movie The Search For Bobby Fischer. He went from childhood chess prodigy to world champion martial artist and details the approach he took that led to translating his success from one discipline to the next. The book discusses Josh’s use of thematic learning methods, using one theme to teach multiple concepts. We use a similar approach by using analogies to build a framework for learning a new concept that is based on student interests or previous knowledge. Reading this book will provide parents an example of how it can be done to keep their children engaged outside of the classroom while deepening their understanding of the concepts. Buy here.

8) ACT Practice Tests

Many past ACT Practice tests are publicly available for you to download and use to get acquainted to the test. This also gives you the opportunity to get some early feedback on what topics to study now that the April ACT has been postponed until June. If you do complete the practice test as intended, you can always set up a Free Assessment with us here to discuss your scores, set up a study plan, and get our recommendations for test prep. You can get this year's free ACT Practice Test here. We're working to compile a more complete list shortly.

9) At home science experiments!

If you have the supplies on hand, at home science experiments are a fantastic way to keep your kids interested and learning (and they don’t always have to be messy!). My mom used to do these with me during the summers, and they instilled a love of science and lifelong learning at a young age. My personal favorite was taking the copper off a penny with a battery and some wire. While the list here is certainly not exhaustive, it’s a great start for those of you looking for fun educational activities while at home. If these experiments don’t interest you, reach out to us with a topic you’d like an at home experiment for. We have several books on our shelves that provide more examples complete with directions and supply lists that we’d be happy to send you.

10) Des Moines Learning Center Blog (and social media)

We’ll be trying to publish content as furiously as we can during this period to keep you busy and learning. We have a few things in the works, but if you have any questions as you’re studying or doing your teacher assigned eLearning, send them our way here. You can also call us or text a picture of your question to 515-216-0983. We’ll answer your questions ASAP and/or publish a video on our social channels explaining how we approached the problems and solved them. Parents, this is a great resource for you too! If you’re having difficulties answering questions or understanding your child’s work, give us a call. We can walk you through how we would teach them if they were in our center. Hopefully we can work together to ensure your child’s learning remains active throughout the impromptu break. We’re always happy to help in any way we can. To find on social media, check out our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. You can also subscribe here to keep up to date on future blogs.


11) Skillshare

Skillshare announced on Twitter today that they are offering a free 2 months of access to their premium courses (free classes are still free for everyone!) to those with .edu or .k12 email addresses. I have used Skillshare in the past and they are definitely a useful source for learning new skills, becoming acquainted with new computer programs, or introducing yourself to a new discipline. While mostly focused on job training with classes on topics such as Business Analytics, Marketing, or UI/UX design, they also have have courses on drawing for those of us that enjoy the arts. I'd highly recommend high school and college aged students use the free access as an opportunity to brush up on their Excel or coding skills as they prepare to enter the workforce. I've found through personal experience that Excel is an extremely useful tool in the business world with a good understanding of math and general understanding of the formulas/capabilities of the program. For a link to Skillshare's announcement click here.

12) Coursera or Edx

Coursera and Edx are similar to Skillshare, but with a heavier academic focus. Both sites offer online courses from top rated institutions such as Michigan, Yale, Stanford, Harvard, UC-Berkely, Duke, and MIT. If you're a college student back home while your university is closed, definitely check these out as a secondary resource for the classed you're taking online. Many professors aren't accustomed to online teaching, so please be patient with them. That being said, if you're looking for supplemental teaching on the topics you're learning in your newly online class, these are great options!

13) Bedtime Math

Bedtime Math is the perfect resources for parents learning the ins and outs of homeschooling/remote learning with their young children and even provides fun reviews for older students. Offering various fun and educational Math activities for children, Bedtime Math is on a mission to make learning math an enjoyable part of every child's daily routine. Examples of the types of activities they offer are M&M March Madness, Money Math, and a Tricks of the Eye activity. Use them for free activities to keep everyone occupied, learning, and enjoying the social distancing.

14) Duolingo

It pains me that I forgot this fantastic resource in the first iteration of this article. Duolingo is a language learning app for Apple and Android that offers dozens of languages. It has interactive courses for everything from Spanish, Chinese, and French to Navajo (even Klingon for you Trekkies out there!). I have used this app to brush up on my Spanish after undergrad. I've recommended it to adults, children, networking connections and friends. Duolingo is far and away the best option out there if you want quick lessons to make all that screen time productive.

Have anything you think we should add to the list? Send it this way! We’re hoping to keep iterating as the shutdowns continue. By the time it’s over we might even have a complete list for summer break! For now, these are great resources for all of us to get through the coronavirus shutdowns and self-distancing while keeping our brains sharp. As always, we’re still available for 1-on-1 tutoring and test prep sessions throughout the shutdowns with online options available. Contact us if you would like to learn more.

Happy learning!


PS. Wash your hands and stay safe out there!