Short stuff: Education
You don’t have to be a teacher to take advantage of the amazing array of educator resources available online. As a full-time working teacher, there are times when I do regret not being able to have my very own star pupil, my son, in my classroom, but I take advantage of evenings and weekends here and there to sit down and teach him a lesson or two. Every parent is an educator. And children love learning—especially when a caring parent is the teacher.
Pick a topic in any subject area that you’ve always enjoyed and research ideas for approaching it in an enjoyable way at home, or reinforce what’s being learned at school using your own creativity. Your enthusiasm will likely be contagious, and since you know your child best, mix it up with learning approaches that appeal to them. Try incorporating music and art, rounding out difficult subject matter with fun.
Teaching resources abound online—check out some of the links below for lesson plans, online activities, at-home project ideas, printables and more:
A virtual classroom bookshelf:
Biguniverse.com features more than 300 fiction and non-fiction children’s titles. Winner of the 2008 Mom’s Choice Award, the site divides complete picture books by age and categories and includes such titles as Is a Worry Worrying You? and The One Sea. Search the database for books by name, keyword, age, genre and even language: books are available in a wide variety of languages, from Albanian to Ukrainian. Take advantage of the Connect feature and help your child create a user profile (including your own unique avatar) that will allow you to find friends, recommend books and share reviews. One of the most exciting resources on biguniverse.com is the Create feature, where children can discover their inner author and create, print and share with friends their very own picture book. Add animation, personal photos or self-generated computer or scanned hand-made drawings to create a unique and personalized book.
Develop math skills through games: www.Aplusmath.com
Aplusmath.com will help your children find the fun in math. Visit the game room and compete together with games such as Matho and Hidden Picture. Create flashcards and math word puzzles. The Worksheets section features printables on just about every elementary math topic, the perfect place to go when your child needs extra help or simply needs to brush up on basic skills.
On-demand educational videos: www.teachertube.com
Teachertube.com is an online community where teachers can share video that better meets educational standards. More educationally focused than youtube.com, teachertube.com is a safe venue for teachers, schools and families. Browse hundreds of videos, create your own libraries narrowed by topics and easily share videos with others.
Presidential politics 101: www.pbskids.org/democracy/presforaday/
Wanted: Man or woman for top government position. Does your child think he or she may fit the bill to become a president of the future? Visit and explore the possibility that someday your son or daughter may be our nation’s president. Participate in important presidential tasks such as writing letters, meeting with foreign leaders, working on a budget and giving speeches. You can also create stickers and postcards—your kids won’t even realize they’re strengthening their language arts, social studies and math skills as they learn what it takes to become a"perfect president.”
Explore art: moma.org/momalearning/artsafari
This online safari, created by the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, teaches children to look at art with a more critical eye as it guides them through a journey that explores animals in paintings and sculptures. Together, you’ll learn more about artists such as Frieda Kahlo and Pablo Picasso. Kids will love the computer art activities, where they can create their own pictures and stories and then submit them to be published on the Web site.
Science fun: www.scienceclub.org
The Science Club’s Kids Science Project Web site at scienceclub.org offers a myriad of fun and interesting science projects that you can build with your child at home. Complete instructions will teach you to build everything from a mini-Maglev train to a solar oven. The Science Fair Idea Exchange area is the perfect place to generate ideas for a winning science fair project.