Thoughts

Educational Screen Time Doesn’t Mean Costly Subscriptions

Today’s children are the second generation to grow up in a world with the internet. Because of this, most of these kids are more than comfortable getting information off the web and using online services for everything from video chat to completing school work. And you have likely grown accustomed to letting your child have their way online after a long and exhaustive day at work. What you might not realize, however, is that to give them access to the educational screen time they need, there are plenty of options that won’t hurt your wallet.

One Expense

Before we get into all of the free resources available, it’s important to make sure your child has a device that can keep up with the technology. Older PCs, for example, may not be able to process live video in high definition or run all of the apps children might want. If your kid’s computer is running on old technology, it’s time to make the  switch to a new model. Yes, it’s an investment, but promotional codes and discounts are usually available for manufacturers, including Lenovo, which is known for its budget and child-friendly machines. And with sites like Rakuten, you can easily dig up a Lenovo coupon to take your savings further.

Free, Cheap, And Valuable Resources

For kids interested in extraterrestrial terrain, NASA has partnered with Google to allow kids to explore the surface of Mars via the Curiosity Rover. This interactive experience lets your future astronauts take an up-close and personal look at the landing site and multiple locations on the planet’s surface. Closer to Earth, many museums, including the Louvre and the British Museum also offer virtual tours of their exhibits.

Nature lovers can easily spend hours learning about animals and geography at Kids.NationalGeographic.com. On this site, they’ll find free games, videos, and other tools on topics ranging from animals to African-American heroes. Older students may feel more connected to the Big History Project, which is free, open, and online and covers a variety of topics from the Earth’s 13.8 billion year history.

If you have a child that struggles with math and language, there are resources for them as well. Many teachers recommend ABCya.com as well as sites that allow for a little bit of fun while learning, including Prodigy and Arcademics, which cater to children up to the eighth and sixth grades, respectively. The biggest benefit of gamified academic sites is that your child can learn in a way that makes the most sense to them, by competing against others and then challenging themselves to beat their high score.

For Those With Learning Differences

All of the above are great for all children, but there are also specialized resources available at no cost for students with learning differences, such as dyslexia. Dog On A Log Books offers free printables to help students with dyslexia learn how to read. ScootPad also offers resources in math, ELA, reading, writing, and spelling that can help teach and reinforce lessons learned in an adaptive environment.

Students with ADHD that find it difficult to sit still – particularly as the United States remains in a state of social distancing – can expel some energy using the Fluency & Fitness site. This program is currently free for 21 days (cost is $9.99 after). Other ideas are to let your children watch yoga and meditation videos, which may help them harness their energy and attention.

This is just a small sample of the sites and resources available for parents and students. But it serves as a strong reminder that, sometimes, the best things in life are free. And if you have the right computer, you have access to a world of guilt-free screen-time opportunities for your kids. After all, the internet isn’t going away, you may as well let it work for you.

This article was written by our guest author Leslie Campos of wellparents.com