If you have young kids at home, then you already know how difficult it can be to study with them around. In addition to juggling the responsibilities of caring for them with schoolwork, it’s hard to get into a rhythm with consistent distractions and interruptions throughout the day. And for many parents, it’s easy to feel guilty that you’re not doing enough—you may feel bad about not spending time with your kids, and if you hang out with the littles instead, you may worry about your academic progress.
The good news is that there’s no need for this guilt! There are tons of great (free!) resources to keep your kids busy with activities that let them learn alongside you. Of course, it’s important to limit screen time, but allocating just a small fraction of the day toward this type of learning may buy you a bit of time to get your studying in while enabling them to learn something new too. In fact, encouraging them to do some independent online learning while you study can be a great bonding experience.
For those of you who are trying to study with young kids at home, here are a variety of free online resources to help you and your kids learn together.
Ditch the Guilt: Studying Tips for Real Life
Even though today’s parents often face many more time demands—long work days, returning to school, exhausting commutes, and more—odds are good that you spend significantly more time with your kids than your parents spent with you. Yet many parents feel overwhelmed or guilty when they can’t devote their full attention to their kids.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Returning to school doesn’t just improve your life. It’s good for your kids too. It means they’ll have a more educated and employable parent, along with the security this offers. It could offer the chance to move to a better school district or enroll in more extracurriculars. And if your degree helps you land a better job with more work-life balance, you may eventually have more time with your kids as a result of the work you’re doing now. So don’t beat yourself up. You’re making a wise decision for your whole family.
Spending time on independent learning may help your kids too. Playing alone can encourage critical, creative thinking and allow your child to experiment with new ideas without worrying about your reaction. When your child invests in online solo learning, they gain technological skills that may serve them well at school and in their own careers.
Your kids do not need you to build Legos with them 24/7. They need a happy parent who shows them that hard work opens doors. Seeing you work your way through your degree offers real-world evidence that a good education is highly valuable. So break out the computer and learn together.
Online Resources to Learn Together
Kids thrive on routine, so rather than making your own studies separate from the family routine, try integrating them. Encourage your kids to dig deeply into their own education as you invest in yours. Here are some great learning resources for your kids to pursue while you attend classes:
- Visit the Khan Academy Kids app, which caters to early learners ages 2-6. Kids can play online games, solve puzzles, listen to stories, and more.
- When your kids graduate from the Khan Academy app, transition them to Khan Academy, which offers a vast range of learning resources for grades K through 12.
- Encourage your kids to join Adventure Academy. This massive multiplayer online game immerses kids in a world that bolsters creativity, math skills, and spatial reasoning.
- Most parents know that reading to kids promotes early literacy, but doing it often can also take away from your studies. Outsource the reading while you study. The social media hashtag #operationstorytime features beloved children’s authors reading their work. Audible offers free stories for ages 0-18. For a unique take on storytime, let astronauts read to your kids from space.
- Spark your child’s creativity with art class. Doodles with Mo Willems helps kids draw simple figures that they can steadily build into something more complex.
- Kindle provides a great range of resources for kids, from kid-friendly documentaries to games and more. Kindle Unlimited is free for two months.
- Visit the National Council of Teachers of English page, where teachers have compiled a number of English learning resources grouped by age.
- Learn from people who have already mastered the art of learning at home: homeschoolers. 123homeschool offers tons of free worksheets and other learning resources.
- Make math fun and easy with Mathscore, which supports math skills ranging from counting to algebra and beyond.
- Do your kids love animals? Give them a virtual wildlife experience with Google. Type an animal such as a lion or tiger into the search engine, then click “view in 3D” on any Android or iPhone. Click the option to “view in your space.” Your phone will put an image of the animal moving and posing into your camera, allowing your kids to take dozens of photos with their favorite wildlife. Encourage them to get creative, developing stories about each photo.
- If you’re like most adults, you probably remember Scholastic book fairs and worksheets from your childhood. Scholastic is back and better than ever with loads of age-appropriate, free online resources through Scholastic Digital.
- Little Passports offers toys and games that allow children to explore the world from the comfort of home. They also boast a robust variety of homeschooling resources.
- You don’t have to pay a lot of money to go on a field trip. Enjoy animals, nature, and more without the crowds by taking a virtual tour of the San Diego Zoo, Great Wall of China, or even Mars.
- If your kids need practice reading, check out this teacher-approved list of the best reading education sites.
- Outschool offers low-cost, immersive lessons designed for kids of most ages. Learn about engineering, meet reptiles up close, and more.
- Cosmic Kids Yoga helps endlessly wiggly kids calm down and focus. Each lesson features a preschooler-friendly story that older kids will enjoy too. The instructor integrates yoga directly into each tale, spinning movement and fantasy together.
- ABCMouse offers a comprehensive online learning academy for children ages 2-8. Early learners can learn shapes, numbers, and letters, while older kids can master reading, math, critical thinking, and more.
Other Strategies for Studying With Kids at Home
If you’re used to learning in a library or when the kids are at school, transitioning to studying with kids at home is a major transition. Like anything else you do, it takes time to adapt. Learning with little people underfoot is a skill. Mastering it requires some practice, so don’t expect to go in at full productivity on day one. Start with low expectations, and build steadily upon your successes. Some strategies that may help include:
- Begin with small chunks of time spent in class or studying. This allows kids to adapt to the idea of learning on their own and taking a break from playing with you. Gradually increase the amount of time you work as the kids grow more comfortable.
- Make learning into a fun family project. Explain to the kids that you’re going to school too. Most kids want to be like their parents, and they relish the chance to copy what mom or dad does.
- Get help from your spouse. If you’re both working from home, try working in shifts so that the kids get playtime with each of you.
- Recruit older kids to help with younger ones. Kids love feeling mature and more responsible, so tell your older children you need their support. Consider paying them or rewarding them with a special outing or event in return for their help.
- Invest in a study-time box for each child. Ask your kids to pick a handful of toys they love to play with on their own—coloring books, storybooks, crafts, figurines, or paints, for example. Then bring out each child’s special, independent play box when you need to study. The toys will feel new, and that can buy you some extra study time even when your children are bouncing off the wall.
How SNU Supports You
SNU understands the unique psychology of adult learners. You may feel excited about pursuing your dreams, but a little anxious about whether you can add another responsibility. That’s why we offer flexible options that help you start sooner, finish quickly, and attend classes on your own terms. Our unique online courses bring exceptional instructors and industry leaders into your home. You don’t have to fight traffic, line up childcare, or even get dressed to go to school. Simply turn on your computer and take a step toward the life you want. We are committed to student success and would love to talk to you about making your dreams a reality.
To learn about what sets us apart, or for more practical studying tips for thriving in online education, check out our free guide, What to Expect from an Online Degree Program.