On Thursday, April 9, Maine Policy Institute hosted a panel of veteran homeschoolers and educators for a virtual townhall to answer questions from parents on how to weather the public shutdown over COVID-19 and facilitate learning at home. A few days earlier, Maine’s education commissioner recommended that districts prepare to keep students physically out of the classroom until the beginning of the next academic year in September.

Many parents are restructuring their lives around this “accidental homeschooling” amid the public shutdown, on top of working from home, or in the worst case, looking for work or filing for unemployment. They are finding it to be more like homeschooling than anything they’ve experienced before.

In the interest of helping those parents and students new to educating at home, Maine Policy and Ms. Jane Keffer, a member of the virtual townhall panel, have assembled a broad array of free or discounted online resources to aid and inspire self-directed learning for people of all ages.

Listen to or watch the full Homeschooling Help & Hints Townhall below:

Homeschooling Resources

Royal Academy Education (RAE) is helping parents during the COVID-19 school closures by offering free, personal, hour-long consultations (normally $70) to answer questions and help parents navigate this challenging time. RAE has offices in Maine and Vermont, is fully-accredited, and offers a completely individualized approach to homeschooling with a mix of online and ‘blended learning.’

Khan Academy is a nonprofit offering a free online learning platform for K-12 students and other remote learning resources related to COVID-19 school closures, such as daily schedules for students as young as age two.

The Journal, an online education and technology magazine, has compiled a long list of free or almost free online resources for parents and teachers. These include everything from lessons on computer programming, foreign languages, and visual arts/graphics, to virtual and interactive tours of museums around the world.

The National Constitution Center provides free online resources for elementary through high school and beyond, along with links to many virtual learning platforms.

National Humanities Center offers free digital classroom resources through their “America in the Classroom” thematic lessons for mid- to upper-grade level students. NHC provides curriculum resources such as lesson plans, questions, videos, digital textbooks and podcasts that integrate literature, fine arts, and primary source materials. 

UnitStudy.com is now offering discounted access to their across-the-board, thematic curriculum resources for grades 5-12. These can be used for multiple grade levels, with complete lesson plans, reading materials, videos, projects and activities provided for several age groups. All that is needed is an internet connected device like tablet or computer. All internet links have been checked and double-checked for accuracy and child-friendliness.

Hillsdale College, a well-established private college in Michigan, provides free online courses for high school and adult learning in history, politics, literature, philosophy, religion, economics, and more. These are taught by college professors in a very engaging way. All courses are free online and include reading material, online quizzes and interaction with instructors.

Digital History offers a complete and free coverage of high school American History using a chronological timeline and a range of historical topics and themes. It also includes activities, projects, lesson plans and quizzes. Also suitable for junior high school level.

The Omni Calculator Project is a community of scientists and researchers that built 1000 math and physics calculators to make homeschooling less challenging for parents and kids. Each of them is equipped with tips and detailed explanations of concepts to various scientific phenomena.

Education.com offers a wide variety of resources that can be downloaded or completed online, including many learning games. They are granting access to some of their premium content for those with only a free “Basic” account.

Freedom Homeschooling provides a broad list of online resources that many homeschool parents use to supplement curricula. The list includes well known educational suppliers like Houghton-Mifflin, McGraw-Hill, and even “Virtual Science Labs”.

Hippocampus.org, a project of the Monterrey Institute for Technology and Education offers lesson plans for the natural sciences, humanities, math, and social sciences.

Izzit.org offers free educational courses with videos and follow-up lesson plans for teachers and students of any stripe or situation.

Unschool.School is a marketplace connecting parents and students to tutors and teachers for all kinds of subjects in their community.

For low-income households in Maine who are homeschooling, the Maine Children’s Scholarship Fund offers scholarships to aid in the cost to families who choose to homeschool.

Homeschoolers of Maine has also assembled resources for getting started, homeschooling during COVID-19, additional online resources for families and unit studies.

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