Try These Home-Schooling Tips, Resources

mother painting with kids at home

Current as of September 25, 2020

Many schools across the continental United States and the globe have temporarily switched to online learning to help keep students, their families, administrators and teachers safe and slow the spread of coronavirus disease 2019. Here are some tips and resources you can use to help your child learn at home.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Talk with your child about the pandemic

Children may know more about the virus than you realize, even if they are young and are not talking about it. Here are ways to address the topic:

  • Speak with your child, in an age-appropriate manner, about COVID-19 and its impact on their normal routine and the routines of those around them. Start the conversation by determining what, if anything, they already know.
  • Reassure your child that you are doing everything you can to protect their well-being and that of the family.
  • Encourage your child to come to you with any questions or concerns. You might start a journal together to document your experiences and emotions during this time.

Establish a routine for learning at home

  • Consider your child’s age. The home-based learning experience will be very different for a preschool student than a middle or high school student. Discuss your expectations for learning at home and go over any concerns so you are on the same page.
  • Set and follow a weekday schedule for starting and ending the school day and going to bed. All children benefit from structure, even if they try to resist it.
  • Build in flexibility to accommodate your own work and other responsibilities. You may be teleworking, for example. See if you and your spouse, partner or another adult in your household can share some of the teaching. It might also help to set aside time in the evenings to check over assignments or work together on reading and other skills.
  • Take breaks. Schedule time during the school day for lunch, snacks and age-appropriate breaks. Think physical education, recess, etc.
  • Build in time for creativity. Make time for music, art and other creative subjects. This may include time for your child to practice an instrument, draw, paint, try their hand at drama or develop other skills. Have younger children practice counting by stacking blocks, or build a fort from sheets.
  • Help your child safely connect with friends and relatives. Connecting with friends and family members outside your household is important. Work with your child’s school, their friends’ parents and others to help them stay in touch. Consider taking turns leading virtual lessons or hosting virtual play dates. Have your child write letters to people they care about while practicing handwriting and grammar.
  • Create a designated learning space. Set up a designated learning space that is comfortable and in an area with minimal distractions. Allow children to personalize their space and ensure it contains the equipment and materials they need and can access independently.

Tap resources through your child’s school

  • Embrace online assignments and virtual lessons. Many schools are offering online assignments and/or virtual lessons in place of traditional in-person learning. Monitor your child’s assignments and make sure they complete all work and log in on time for online sessions. Provide any help they need, such as reading instructions and using laptops and other devices.
  • Ask for teaching advice. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teachers, guidance counselors and administrators for advice as you support your child at home.
  • Seek assistance. Contact your child’s teachers or school to resolve issues that may come up with technology, connectivity, assignments and more.

Tap installation and community resources

  • Explore home-schooling resources on your installation. These can include installation school liaisons, Department of Defense Education Activity school activities, and programs for children, youth and teens.
  • Check out Head Start and Sure Start programs. Head Start teaches reading, math and other developmental skills to children 5 and younger before they start school. Sure Start is a Department of Defense Education Activity program open to command-sponsored military children at overseas installations who meet age requirements and other criteria.
  • Reach out to Military OneSource education consultants. They can assist you with questions about your child’s education. These one-on-one sessions are free and confidential and can provide you with referrals to resources in your area. Call 800-342-9647 at any time to schedule an appointment. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.
  • Turn to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library. This is your source for free online resources for children, teens and adults — including eBooks and audiobooks on virtually every topic. Use the library to help your children learn and stay engaged and entertained.
  • Connect with other parents. Stay in touch with parents in your existing network and work together to widen your circle. Share resources, try teaching virtual group lessons and more.
  • Celebrate reading. The Department of Defense Education Activity joins the National Education Association and schools across the nation in celebrating Read Across America year-round. Check out the campaign’s tools and resources to help your child read, experience its joy and feel valued and welcome.
  • Take advantage of remote learning opportunities. Nonprofit and other educational organizations are offering free resources, such as instructional videos, live streams and webinars, that parents and students can use.

Tap resources in the arts, sciences and more

  • Have a blast with Kennedy Space Center. Inspire a love of science and space by joining Kennedy Space Center’s Facebook Live sessions for young children and young adults.
  • Explore the Smithsonian Institution. Places like the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are reopening as pandemic conditions allow, but can always come to families virtually. Meet the animals, watch them on live cams, check out the Smithsonian Learning Lab, discover museum treasures in 3D, play a wide variety of games and much more.
  • Serve up science lessons. Turn to the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library for resources including ScienceFlix, which offers more than 50 complete units of study with thousands of science-related assets. It uses hands-on projects, videos, interactive features and more to give children and teens a better understanding of science concepts and ideas.

Stay informed

Understanding of COVID-19 continues to evolve. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms.

For Department of Defense updates for the military community:

Take Advantage of Online Learning Resources With Many Children Still Stuck at Home

Boy at home on his laptop

Current as of September 29, 2020

Coronavirus disease 2019 continues to disrupt school and library schedules, presenting challenges for parents to keep their children engaged in learning actitivies. But the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library offers resources to supplement virtual and in-classroom learning.

The MWR library system offers access to many easy-to-use online resources for children, youth and teens. You’ll find eBooks and audiobooks for your child (parents and teachers, too) on a variety of topics, as well as databases, reference books, tutoring services and materials.

These resources are available free of charge to military service members and their families. Some libraries may require you to register and create an online account, but the resources are still offered for free.

Below are descriptions of some of the available resources.

  • BookFlix This library from Scholastic pairs classic video storybooks with related nonfiction titles to reinforce early reading skills and develop real-world knowledge. This cultivates key reading skills, supports reluctant readers and ELL students, and builds fluency, vocabulary and reading comprehension. Please check to make sure that every computer that will access BookFlix meets the necessary technical requirements http://bookflix.scholastic.com/browsercheck.
  • Britannica Academic Enjoy fast and easy access to thousands of articles, biographies, videos, images and websites. Includes ImageQuest, with more than three million images, all rights-cleared for educational, noncommercial use.
  • Britannica Annals of American History This valuable online chronicle provides the original words of more than 1,500 authors who made and analyzed American history through their speeches, writings, memoirs, poems and interviews.
  • Britannica Library Provides three sites in one — Children, Young Adults, and the Reference Center — where you can conduct research, complete school assignments, work on special projects or explore your unique interests. You can even store your research in your personal My Britannica account.
  • Explora Primary Want to learn more about animals, arts, music, health, history, people and places, science, math and sports? Explora Primary can help. Grades K-5.
  • Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia Explore this vast reference library for full articles about thousands of topics. Enter the password “1source” if prompted.
  • Gale Academic OneFile This premier periodical resource provides millions of articles from scholarly journals and other authoritative sources with extensive coverage in key subject areas such as biology, chemistry, criminal justice, economics, environmental science, history, marketing, political science and psychology. Enter the password “1source” if prompted.
  • Gale eBooks is a database of encyclopedias and specialized reference sources for multidisciplinary research. These reference materials once were accessible only in the library, but now you can access them online from the library or remotely 24/7. Enter the password “1source” if prompted.
  • Gale In Context: Middle School This library combines the best of Gale’s reference content with age-appropriate videos, newspapers, magazines, primary sources and much more. Students will find outstanding support to complete assignments in core subjects, including literature, science, social studies and history. Enter the password “1source” if prompted.
  • Gale In Context: Science is an engaging online experience for those seeking contextual information on hundreds of today’s most significant science topics. The solution merges Gale’s authoritative and continuously updated reference content with full-text magazines, academic journals, news articles, experiments, images, videos, audio files and links to vetted websites organized into a user-friendly portal experience. Enter the password “1source” if prompted.
  • Mango Languages Check out this digital language learning program for learners of all levels, with courses in more than 70 different foreign languages, 21 English language courses and 44 specialty courses. Mango’s language-learning methodology is designed to simulate the way people learn a foreign language when actually immersed in everyday, practical conversation. Mango Languages also offers more than 40 streaming international movies via its Mango Premier feature.
  • NoveList K-8 Plus provides a trusted source of information curated specifically for younger readers. It helps kids find books that are just right for their reading level and interests.
  • NoveList Plus helps readers discover books they want to read and connects them to library collections. Currently, the NoveList Plus database contains information on more than 500,000 popular fiction and readable nonfiction titles for all ages.
  • ScienceFlix Offering more than 50 complete units of study with more than 6,500 science-related assets in a variety of media, ScienceFlix (from Scholastic) provides students with a better understanding of science concepts and ideas through hands-on projects, videos, multiple text types, interactive features and more.
  • Teachables This library offers printable activities for any pre-K to sixth-grade subject: math, science, reading comprehension, STEM, writing and beyond. Download printable lesson plans, reading passages, games and puzzles, clip art, bulletin board ideas, teacher supports and skills sheets. Access more than 25,000 teacher-created, vetted printables to support your instruction. Enter “military” for your user ID and password if prompted.
  • Teacher Reference Center Access indexing and abstracts for more than 270 of the most popular teacher and administrator journals and magazines.
  • TrueFlix Offering dozens of units to supplement social studies and science core curricula learning, TrueFlix (from Scholastic) helps students improve literacy skills, build content-area knowledge, and cultivate the critical skills necessary for academic success and college and career readiness.
  • Tutor.com Tutor.com for military children gives kids access to online tutoring and homework help from live, expert tutors in more than 16 subjects. Tutors can help with tonight’s homework or catch your child up on missed concepts and lessons, all for free.

Explore the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library today with your family to discover what adventures await your minds.

Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments

Our understanding of COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Stay up to date by checking the Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, visit Defense.gov and follow Military OneSource’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms.