“Summer slide” refers to the loss in progress from one school year to the next as a result of students taking the summer off from learning or reflecting on what they learned during the year. The Washington Post reports that children typically lose one to two months’ progress following a 10-week break.
Considering the circumstances of this year, most students will lose at least six months of classroom instruction as schools stay shuttered for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of this, it’s crucial now more than ever that students stay engaged with their studies so as not to fall behind.
Fortunately, there are plenty of free online resources to help keep students on track. With the help of these resources, students can take control of their education during this prolonged summer break and keep up with their studies, or even come out ahead.
Varsity Tutors recently rolled out a free program for students in grades K-12 called Virtual School Day. Virtual School Day hosts free daily live classes to cover the basics of math, science, reading, literature, writing and more, and also offers a range of other enrichment classes.
Depending on grade level, subjects range from farming and animals to probability and counting methods. Options in enrichment courses include origami, the history of pop music and tips for test-takers. What’s more, interactive classes are searchable by age range or subject matter. Virtual School Day is a super intuitive, interactive and highly accessible resource students can use to stay on track.
Scholastic Learn at Home
Scholastic will celebrate its 100th birthday in October 2020, and continues to churn out quality educational products even after so many years. To support students currently at risk of falling behind due to school closures, the Scholastic Learn at Home program offers 20 days’ worth of free learning experiences.
The preschool level features game ideas that integrate exercises in science, nature, the alphabet, counting, art, exercise and other pursuits.
Each of these games require few supplies, and most are already typically on hand. For example, all that families need to participate in an alphabet scavenger hunt, for instance, is a fairly well-stocked pantry.
Elementary school kids will find a treasure trove of activities, videos, virtual journeys and read-aloud books. Teenagers can read up on the 1962 escape from Alcatraz, how emojis are engineered or changing views about disabilities. Check out Learn at Home for 20 days of free resources for PreK students to those entering high school.
The offshoot of the award-winning “NOVA” TV program, NOVA Education supports STEM learning through first-rate documentaries and simulations, giving kids the opportunity to experience science through the eyes of actual scientists.
Topics featured in their at-home resources material include body and brain, physics and math, space and flight, engineering, the planet, ancient worlds and military and espionage. If there’s one downside, it’s the difficulty in choosing what to explore first!
The catalyst of language tutoring, Rosetta Stone, is offering a free, three-month subscription to parents of children in grades K-12 to support students during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Students can choose from Arabic, Dutch, Greek, Hebrew, German, Polish, Italian and more, and participate in free live group coaching sessions at their own pace.
Rosetta Stone specializes in immersive language learning, while giving instant feedback on pronunciation, as well as the ability for parents to receive frequent progress reporting to make sure their child stays on track.
Pioneers in science education since 2009, Twig is giving free access to its STEM resources for students in grades K-12. Explore the thousands of visuals, videos, activities and quizzes available on the site in both English and Spanish, enjoy a weekly science news report to stay in-the-know and so much more.
Twig has also added resources specifically created to facilitate distance learning and independent study. Parents and educators can access teaching and research aids as well as tips for working like a scientist through the pandemic.
As a part of Google’s Area 120 program, this app is targeted to kids ages 6 to 12 and its creators truly take literacy to heart.
According to its mission statement, Rivet’s purpose is “to solve some of the primary obstacles to good reading practice — access to books, access to high-quality feedback, and most importantly, enthusiasm for reading.”
Users can choose from a list of over 3,500 stories to read themselves or to be read to them by a narrator. On every page, Rivet has made sure to install reading support for kids who may get stuck, making this a truly accessible and accommodating service.
Children earn points and rewards for completing books and activities, can assign ratings to what they read and can even leave book reviews.
This program is designed to pinpoint and address learning weaknesses early on, something that is especially important when teachers aren’t around to spot problems.
For each of the 27 subjects MobyMax has available to choose from, there is an initial placement test that, once a student takes, will automatically customize lessons based on their progress and answers.
Teachers and parents alike can use the MobyMax platform to assign homework or send messages to their students to keep them accountable and structure their learning schedule.
For the end of the school day, MobyMax also features learning games, contests and rewards, to help reward and engage students who may be struggling. Kids can further customize their experience and add friends to digitally connect with to make it an even more interactive platform.
MobyMax is recommended for kindergarteners to eighth graders.
Individuals, teachers and entire school districts use this free online learning platform to help students in pre-K through to early college level improve their skills.
Khan partners with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Museum of Modern Art, NASA and other esteemed institutions to improve their resources, so the content available is outstanding.
Kids can watch instructional videos and work through self-paced practice lessons to stay fresh on the basics or expand their knowledge. Teenagers can even get a head start on SAT prep!
Khan’s adaptive technology identifies strengths and learning gaps, and features courses that accelerate or slow down accordingly depending on the needs of the student at hand.
Comcast Xfinity Education
Kids taking up space on the sofa during school closures can unwittingly learn while watching TV with Comcast Xfinity Education. Comcast subscribers now have 2,000 free educational resources to help reinforce and sustain a student’s educational journey.
The cable giant partnered with Common Sense Media, which selected the programming and organized it by grade level. Because of this, there’s something for just about every student in grades K-12, and all information is available in both English and Spanish!
Xfinity Education draws from Animal Planet, PBS KIDS, History, Nick Jr., the Smithsonian Channel and many more favorites to offer content that keeps students engaged and interested.
What’s more, Xfinity Education goes beyond supporting solely students, with continuing education courses in cooking, technology and more!
This last resource is for the future techies out there!
This nonprofit seeks to expand computer science in schools worldwide, and is funded by industry leaders like Microsoft, Google and Amazon. One of its chief goals is to engage more females, minorities and other underrepresented young people.
No one argues that digital learning doesn’t have its drawbacks, and no matter what, school closures caused by the Coronavirus pandemic is an extremely challenging situation for students, teachers and parents. However, there are some silver linings to this new form of learning.
With no one forcing them into the classroom, kids around the world are learning to take greater ownership of their schooling, and understand what a privilege it is to have access to an education. As well, they now have the freedom to explore what interests them, and learn their strengths and weaknesses.
If COVID-19 was inevitable, it’s a good thing it showed up in the digital age, where endless top-notch, free resources are at homebound learners’ fingertips.