Access to education is the greatest gift we can give to our kids. That is why education is the highest priority in our home. Parents of competitive athletes share this commitment. I am highlighting a few resources we use at home to help families nurture well-rounded scholar-athletes.
Carry books in the car: Children (and adults) should read almost every day. Traveling to and from soccer events consumes a lot of time. Our boys read various books out loud on the way to soccer and other events. I estimate this adds over 70 hours of extra reading per year. It also stimulates conversations about things other than soccer. We also enjoy listening to audiobooks.
Zearn: Zearn is one of the best math instructional websites I have seen. It integrates high-quality video content with paper notes. After creating an account, parents can select the grade-level for their child. Because of its in-depth videos, Zearn is ideal for introducing topics that have not been taught to them in school yet. Cost: Free - https://www.zearn.org/
Special author's note: Teaching methods have changed significantly since most parents were in school. Zearn's instructional methodology is aligned with most schools today.
Read Theory: Read Theory is a program designed to improve reading comprehension and writing skills for K-12 students. When students log into Read Theory, they gain instant access to over a thousand premium quality assessments. Students receive content based on their initial level and subsequent performance. Cost: Free - https://readtheory.org
Khan Academy: A very popular program, Khan Academy uses the power of Youtube to teach a variety of subjects. Currently, we focus on math and grammar. Cost: Free - http://www.khanacademy.org/
IXL: IXL is effectively a well-organized test bank for the K-12 curriculum. After completing a module in Khan Academy or Zearn, our children answer questions in IXL related to those topics. The learning is self-paced; so they rarely get frustrated. Cost: Between $100 and $200 per year - https://www.ixl.com/.
K-5 Learning: My favorite in many ways, K5 Learning is an interactive website that teaches reading, math and spelling. Cost: $14.95 per month - https://www.k5learning.com/
Xtra Math: This is a simple website with a simple goal. Ensure children can do basic arithmetic computations in less than three seconds. Effective test-takers are able to answer questions quickly. Cost: Free - https://xtramath.org/
Special author's note: I type the answers once my child answers them.
Code.org: This is an excellent intro to computer programming that also encourages creative problem-solving. When young children don't understand something quickly, they tend to give up. This program forces them to work through it and find a solution. Cost: Free -https://code.org/
Generation Genius: Generation Genius delivers entertaining science videos complemented with science experiments and quizzes. Our children really enjoy them. Cost: $95 per year https://www.generationgenius.com/
Too much homework? For some, this may seem like a lot, so I asked a friend and esteemed educator Lynn Makor for her opinion. Below is her response.
Neil, I subscribe to the first option...read, read, and then read some more. There is no such thing as too much reading. The rest I see as learning tools that parents may consider to supplement their child's learning. The interactive stuff the kids seem to enjoy. This is different than the research on homework in the early grade levels, which tends to be a more monotonous practice of procedures and concepts that should be covered in the classroom through direct instruction.
From my perspective, I find it more effective and comprehensive to allow these tools to deliver the lectures instead of me trying to teach it the way I learned it 30 years ago!
I hope you find this helpful.