When you first started homeschooling, there seemed to be a never-ending supply of resources for young children on the Internet. Sites like Starfall helped to teach reading, Enchanted Learning covers so many subject areas, and Cool Math Games kept them interested in using their budding math skills while Khan Academy.org will always be relevant. But as they get older, not yet ready for the high school topics, yet bored by their old favorites, it’s time for their web interests to grow up. Parents still need to monitor closely for the inevitable inappropriate content. Here’s some of the best web sites out there for the older students.
1. CNN Student News (cnn.com/studentnews). One way to keep up with current events is to start the day with ten minutes of commercial free news. But how to make the news interesting to a sixth grader? Fast-paced, yet still bringing it to the student’s level, throw in a quick quiz and wrap it up with some clever puns.
2. Izzit.org is another current events web site. Articles are in-depth and accompanied by a list of questions for the student. Registration also qualifies you for one full-length video every school year, and the list of available videos is extensive.
3. While many free foreign language web sites are geared toward adults, Duolingo is accessible for the typical middle schooler. And, as a plus, it has been described by a foreign language teacher as being as effective as Rosetta Stone, only free. You get what you put into it, but daily practice should take less than 30 minutes for the student.
4. If you still need spelling practice lists, then Spelling Connections (http://www.zaner-bloser.com/media/zb/zaner-bloser/spellingconnections/pr…) has lists up through eighth grade, in English and Spanish.
5. PBS Learning Media (http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/) has subjects by grade level, but their offerings expand greatly at the middle school level. There is an abundance of real world applications for the academics that are being studied, something that the middle schooler becomes more concerned about.
6. Kids Discover.com. Even if you don’t subscribe to the magazine (and you don’t need to, your local library has most every back issue), there is much to be found here. Infographics are popular with this age group, and Kids Discover is masterful in this area. Mostly Science and Social Studies topics, but there is everything from a short article to in-depth lesson plans with teacher guides and information for parents. Invaluable!
There’s a lot of educational resources floating around the Internet, some of it is good, and some of it should just keep floating. It’s always good to keep a few old stand-bys at the ready, or even make them a part of your routine.