School’s Out for Coronavirus: Top Free Homeschool Tools

The COVID-19 outbreak has caused schools to close across the world. Unfortunately, this includes Classroom of Hope’s schools as well. Slowly, some students have started to return to their classrooms, but the vast majority of students are still learning from home.

Many are turning to online teaching to keep students engaged. However, not all students have access to this option. Online teaching requires a dedicated teacher (and school that can continue to pay them) and a reliable internet connection. Unfortunately, this isn’t a reality for many schools worldwide.

To help address these crucial gaps in education, resources are appearing for families new to homeschooling. In fact, there are so many tools available now that it can be overwhelming. For many, the question of how to continue education from home adds yet another challenge to an already difficult time.  

Classroom of Hope’s mission is to provide access to quality education to students in developing countries. With schools closed, we can’t currently do that in person. But we can help students and parents navigate this new challenge!

Below, we’ve listed a few of our favorite FREE homeschooling resources. We’ve tried to include tools for all different ages, backgrounds and levels of internet access. 

How to Homeschool During Coronavirus

First, Take a Deep Breath

Everyone in the world is struggling through this pandemic together.  No one expects that parents will suddenly be able to offer the level of education that teachers can. So breathe, and remember that you’re doing your best.

Okay, But Where Do I Even Start?

Start slow. Realize that even two to three hours per day will make a difference.

Talk with your children and decide which subjects to focus on. Math, Science, and Language are usually core subjects. Are there other fields that they enjoy, or need more practice with?

Grade 3 Teacher: Khang Kanha Ti Na (12) solve a maths problem on the balckboard

Figure out how your student learns. Are they best with hands-on activities and games, or by doing worksheets? Educational videos? Do they need structure or are they self-disciplined?

Evaluate your resources. Do you have reliable internet access to watch live stream classes or videos? If not, can you view lessons and basic web pages online? Do you have a computer or a smartphone? If you don’t have internet access at home, is there somewhere you can get online and print worksheets?

FREE Homeschooling Resources during COVID-19

Each tool listed below has pros/cons and different audiences. Some are only available for certain age groups, some for certain school subjects. Most need some degree of internet access, but some offer offline options.

For Reading Practice
(Pre-K through Year 8 Reading Levels)

The International Children’s Digital Library provides free access to children’s literature from cultures around the world. 

Their collection includes over 4,000 books in 59 different languages! There are even books offered in multiple languages. 

The website is child-friendly and easy to navigate. It’s also available in various languages. You can sort by location, language, subject, and more. Books are not downloadable – readers open up one or two pages at a time, and you need internet access. The site is available on a computer or a smartphone, and file sizes are small.

This is a great option for young readers, including non-English speakers or English-Language-Learners!

For Downloadable and Printable Worksheets (Kindergarten through Year 6)

K5 Learning was founded by parents to offer quality educational tools for their kids to use at home. They offer online lessons for a charge, but what we love are their free worksheets!

The website offers free mathematics and reading worksheets. Reading options include comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. You can sort worksheets by topic or by level. Each downloadable PDF includes an easy answer key and can be printed out! 

You don’t have to make an account to access these worksheets. There are reminders on the website to start your 14-day free trial, but this isn’t required to access the free worksheets. 

This site is great for elementary level English-speaking students. The ability to download and print worksheets makes this a good option for families with limited internet access.

For Parents Who Want More
(K through Year 5)

Hand2Mind is a great resource for parents who want more complete lesson plans. This site normally charges for educational tools. However, in response to COVID-19, they’ve started to offer some great resources for free.

Free weekly schedules for K-5 students include daily lessons and activities. Worksheets on mathematics, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and maths), and literacy are downloadable. Each also includes an answer key, and they’re all available in both English and Spanish!

For parents that don’t feel like they have the time to take on the full weekly activity schedule, that’s fine. Each of these worksheets can also be used individually. 

The site also has great resources for parents who are new to teaching at home. They provide guides for educational activities and advice on how to establish a daily routine. Just make sure to stay on the “Hand2MindAtHome” part of the website, where the free resources are.

For Kids Who Want to Play While They Learn (Pre-K through Year 6)

ABCya is based on the belief that children learn better when they’re having fun! This website’s 400+ fun and free educational games can be sorted by grade level, by subject, or even by how they relate to common standards for each grade level.

The free version of this website is only available on a desktop computer (the app costs money), and has ads. The games require strong internet access.

This can be a great option for children who need a break from worksheets! 

For Students in the United Kingdom

BBC Bitesize is an incredible resource for UK learners aged 5 to 16+. This site offers guides written by teachers and mapped to follow the curricula of the UK. They provide online daily lessons and videos. They also offer parent toolkits and further resources.

For secondary students, lessons on this website follow specifications for main exam boards. These curricula are even broken down by region, with a choice of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, or Wales. This allows students to continue preparing themselves for large exams from home.

Most lessons are only available on the website, instead of being downloadable. There are a lot of videos and games rather than worksheets. Lessons are offered across a wide range of school subjects, including electives like music and history. 

For UK students with good internet access, BBC Bitesize seems to have everything. Being backed by the educational system and aligned with national testing is a big perk!

For Literally Everyone

Khan Academy offers “free world-class education for anyone, anywhere”. (Sounds like our mission!) This not-for-profit offers free lessons across all areas of study for Pre-K through college. Their classes include videos, articles, practice questions, tests, and more. Even better – no ads!

You need an email address to create a personalized (free) account. This account allows you to track your progress, make learning plans, or save lessons for later.

The best part of Khan Academy is its global accessibility. The platform is accessible in 40+ languages. We were amazed to see that this includes demo sites of Burmese, Bahasa Indonesia, Swahili, and Thai! What an amazing possibility for some of our CoH students.

In addition to its desktop site, Khan Academy has apps for Apple and Android. Through the apps, students without consistent internet can download videos to learn offline.

This is a great option for secondary and tertiary students who want to continue to learn from home. It is also a possibility for non-English speaking students to continue studies in a wide variety of subjects. 

Honourable Mentions

BrainPop offers playful videos and interactive assignments for all major subjects of study (K-8). They also have special platforms for English-Language-Learners. However, their free access offer only goes through June 15, 2020. 

CorbettMaths has a basic website offering printable math worksheets with accompanying videos, quizzes, and answer keys. This is a good resource for students looking for extra practice in mathematics.

Ed Helper and Have Fun Teaching are both websites with lots of free printables. Both sites offer great child-friendly tools for reading, literacy, mathematics, and more. However, neither site offers answer keys, which would make it difficult to check students’ learning. 

And Now, Another Deep Breath

The resources we’ve mentioned in this blog are just a few of the many tools that are available to parents today. It can be overwhelming to see them all, and to think of how best to put them into practice.

These tools can be used separately or together to create the right options for your students. The most important takeaway is that you don’t need to start from scratch when it comes to education at home. 

Be patient with yourselves and with your students. Remember that no one expects you to become a teacher overnight. Do what you can during this time, but be sure to find your own balance. And eventually, schools will be back in session! Students have already started going back to school in some parts of the world.

We’re waiting eagerly for that day that all Classroom of Hope supported schools are reopened. Until then, be sure to follow us for more advice and resources as we navigate this new time together.

Dombokbon Grade 2. The teacher Som Ban helps Panna (8) in a writing lesson.

Classrooms are Paused but Hope is Stronger than Ever

In a short time, novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, have spread from a seemingly distant issue to a global pandemic. Now, just a few months after we first heard of it, COVID-19 has affected people and organisations all over the planet… and Classroom of Hope (CoH) is no exception.

How is Classroom of Hope Responding to COVID-19?

As the real impact of COVID-19 is becoming apparent, nonprofits have had to respond and prioritise. CoH’s first priority has been the safety of our team around the world. We’re lucky to have a big family of staff, partners, and donors… but that also means we have a lot of people to check on.

Our Team:

Duncan and Nicola, expecting their second child soon, have moved back to Australia for now. The rest of our team is scattered but safe and secure. Everyone is working remotely from Australia, Europe, the Philippines and the United States.

Our Local Partners:

Bit by bit, our schools and projects around the world have shut down to avoid the spread of the virus. Until recently,  close to 95% of Classroom of Hope’s ongoing projects were paused. New school builds were frozen, fundraisers put on hold, big ideas moved to the backburner. This has only just changed in the last week and some of our local partners have been able to recommence the construction of new schools because these construction projects are recognised as essential services.  Our local partners are all sheltering in place, helping their communities and keeping us updated.

Children’s Action for Development (CAD):

CAD has confirmed that all their schools in Cambodia are currently shut. Racky and the rest of the team are all working from home. They have enough money reserved to continue paying their staff for a while longer. During this downtime, they’re working to lay the groundwork for a second school funded by Navitas Education Trust.

Child’s Dream:

Child’s Dream has shut most offices and encouraged employees to work from home. All CoH funded schools and new builds were closed but in recent developments, Child’s Dream is now able to continue with school construction projects in rural communities across Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. Their project staff is still working to support programs and minimise the impact of COVID-19.

Duncan, Nicola (with daughter Aura) and Lotte from Classroom of Hope outside the Child’s Dream Head Office in Chiang Mai with Child’s Dream Founders Daniel and Marc.

Pelita Foundation Lombok:

Classroom of Hope and Pelita Foundation had five new pop-up schools in progress this year. Luckily, all five schools were completed just before the virus hit! With all future building paused, Pelita Foundation is now focused on protecting their local community in Gerupuk, Lombok. Their new Coronavirus Task Force aims to minimise the impact of the virus by spreading information, setting up sanitation facilities and providing basic medical materials.

We are so grateful for these incredible partners. They are our eyes and ears on the ground, allowing CoH to stay updated on our communities. We will continue to do what we can to support them as they work tirelessly throughout this crisis.

How to Survive as a Nonprofit during Coronavirus?

Our Situation – Adapting to a New Reality

Once we were confident that our team was safe, we moved to our second priority – our nonprofit’s survival during COVID-19. The first step has been to adjust to our new reality. We’ve had to be flexible: observing, adapting, and making changes. We’ve had to adjust to continue to engage donors during the pandemic and be effective. By staying agile, we’re ensuring that Classroom of Hope can make it through.

We’ve been feeling the effects of the crisis for more than just the past few weeks. With the initial spread of the virus in late January, our donations started dropping off. As people started worrying about personal finances, small website donations stopped. Some large donors were forced to pull out when companies had to re-examine their budgets. When the stock markets crashed in March, the taps turned off almost completely.

This has left us feeling immensely grateful for our two groups of absolute legends: our Wise Owls and our Principals.

Our Heroes – Engaging Donors during a Pandemic

Our Wise Owls have been with us for a few years now. They are a group of passionate donors who understand the importance of covering overhead costs for growth. They invest monthly towards Classroom of Hope’s operations. This helps to build our capacity and further our impact. We are so appreciative that this support has remained consistent throughout the COVID-19 crisis!

The Principals are a new concept launched earlier this year. They are a community of philanthropists: business leaders, entrepreneurs, and visionary investors. Our Principals commit multi-year support to our operations.  Our Principals are more than investors; they are part of our Classroom of Hope family.  Their commitments allow us to plan for our future and create a stable and sustainable nonprofit. This is more important now than ever as we navigate through COVID-19.

Our Approach – Staying Agile

Fortified by the investments from our Principals, we’re taking steps to ensure CoH’s sustainability. We’re staying agile, using this time to streamline our nonprofit and put new systems in place. We’re determined that after this pandemic, CoH will be ready to emerge stronger than ever.

With most of our projects frozen, CoH has been able to focus on our core operating costs and cut our budget by 40%. We set a new goal; raising enough funds to have twelve months of reserves. Through the generosity of our Wise Owls and Principals, we are well on our way to reaching that goal!

So What Can We Do Now?

With these adjustments, we’ve addressed our second priority – our nonprofit’s survival. So now what? Anyone who knows us is aware that we can’t just sit on our hands and wait in the face of a crisis. But how can a school-building nonprofit respond when schools are shut down? How can we continue to engage donors during the pandemic?

The answer is simple: observe, stay flexible, and adapt. While CoH’s constitution focuses on education, we are and have always been a community development nonprofit. Our primary goal is to listen to what underserved communities need and be effective in our service. After discussions at a board and executive level, a decision was made to try and raise funds through major donors, foundations and philanthropists for critical food relief in Indonesia. If you are interested in this initiative, please contact Duncan directly at duncan.ward@classroomofhope.org.

Where Do We Go From Here?

How will we know when it’s time to get back to “normal”? That’s the question on everyone’s mind, and no one has a clear answer. Like all of you, we’re taking it week by week. We’ll continue to observe the global situation and stay in contact with our local partners.

Until then, we’ll be focusing on our priorities.

  • Keeping our team safe.
  • Keeping Classroom of Hope alive and relevant.
  • Listening to the needs of our communities and doing what we can to help.

Thank you all for your continued support. We’re all in this together, even when we’re far apart. Stay safe, stay healthy, STAY HOPEFUL.

By Kristina Buckingham
CoH Social Media