Quarantined Mom: Day 4

Learning Heroes
6 min readMar 18, 2020

Trusted, high quality, FREE learning tools that can be sorted by grade and subject

By Cindi Williams

Suddenly, we are all teachers for our children. Few of us are ready for that.

As the reality of a quarantine of at least six weeks is sinking in here in the Seattle area, moms and dads are processing in ways akin to stages of grief. First, there is shock and denial. Can this really be true? Surely there will still be outdoor sports? Then comes anger and frustration as we process the suspension of life as we know it — coupled with our complete lack of control. And now, on day four of no school, we are in the “bargaining” phase…where we try to make sense of it all. What exactly are we going to do to bring structure and independent learning to every day?


Parents are universally resourceful. And, there are a lot of amazing education experts moving quickly to support us with great online learning materials at no cost.

In addition to being the proud mom of two boys stuck in my house, I work with a national non-profit, Learning Heroes, whose mission is to equip parents to be better advocates for, and partners in, their child’s learning. One way parents can take on this new role is to take a quick Readiness Check with your son or daughter.

My high schooler this week will be using a combination of Khan Academy and SAT prep books. I bought used books on Amazon for math, literature and the overall study guide for 2020. This is an opportunity to introduce them to content that is actually a step ahead of their in-school curriculum with no consequences. They are free to fail and, in the process, get exposed to what’s around the corner. Struggling with complex reading at any age is one of the very best things we can ask our students to do. As we move to this next stage of grief — the “upward turn” — my hope is that I can begin to embrace this time with my kids as an opportunity to get more connected to their learning.

Below are some of the highest quality, easiest to access free resources you can begin using right away to create schedules and “at-home” school so that you can both keep your sanity and know that the tasks are appropriate and worthy of their time. Learning Heroes will continue to update this list as resources emerge, but in the meantime, we are confident parents will rise to the challenge.

(K-6) Scholastic:

After scrolling down and choosing the appropriate grade level, K-2 families can access reading lessons, videos and activities focused on a wide variety of engaging topics such as plant life and animals.

Grades 3–6 gain access to Scholastic’s magazine, which covers various non-fiction topics over the course of 5 days. Once the daily magazine article is chosen, students can choose an appropriate readability level, play with highlighting and drawing tools in the “magazine view” and watch videos with additional background knowledge on the topic.

(K-12) Khan Daily:

Khan Academy, a math resource familiar to most parents, has upped their offering, providing daily detailed “block” schedules for grades K-12 from 8:00 am- 3:30 pm. Students can navigate the site independently, they click on a hyperlink within a subject and are sent to a new screen that outlines each skill within the subject. Students learn through a series of videos and practice questions and are unable to move on to the next skill until they’ve completed all of their practice.

(K-8) Learning Hero Roadmap:

Provides an interactive guide on the topics parents tell us they care most about — from what grade-level math and reading skills look like to supporting social and emotional learning. The Roadmap gives parents activities and tools specifically designed to help you uncover your child’s strengths, interests, and where they might need more support.

(9–12) College Board:

Subject specific practice tests in math, English, and writing as well as review answers and explanations, to not only help prepare for college entrance exams but also to practice college level work.

(K-12) National Geographic:

Lesson that are usually shared with teachers are being adapted for parents at home using minimal supplies and harnessing student creativity. They are pulling together videos, interactive maps and activities to encourage young learners to explore social studies, biology, ecology, human geography and much more.

(K-5) Zearn:

A highly engaging math site with classroom lessons that are “gamified” and adaptive. Tutorial webinars are provided for families/caregivers and students on how to navigate the site. In order to access this math tool, parents must set up a free account. Easy step-by-step directions are provided in English and Spanish.

(K-12) ReadWriteThink:

After clicking on the appropriate grade level, this website gives families access to activities and projects, games and tools, tips and how-to’s, printouts, and podcasts to help enhance reading and writing.

(PK-3) Reading Rockets Packets:

Themed reading resources for families including parent information sheets with instructions about how to use the packet, two books: one fiction and one nonfiction, and follow-up activities to extend the learning.

(K-3 Struggling Readers) Story Mentors:

Focuses specifically on struggling readers, with 25 weekly lessons that utilize scientific early reading strategies. Each lesson has guides and activities using common household materials.

(K-5) Story Online:

Provides literacy resources featuring the world’s best storytellers reading books out loud. Each video includes an activity guide.

(3-6) Codex: The Lost Words of Atlantis:

Players visit new locations around the world, where they find artifacts and relics that they use to decode the cryptic language of Atlantean into English. Parents will need to download an app (available in English and Spanish) through “Google Play.” Parents will need a Google sign in or they can enter code 20044.

(2-8) PBS for Parents:

Offers games and activities for your child that can be filtered by topic and grade with some of their favorite television characters.

(K-8) Brainpop:

Provides students with informational videos that explain everything from science and social studies to art, music and health in great detail. It is particularly good at introducing new vocabulary that is subject-specific.

(PK-12) GreatSchools.org:

Offers grade level took kits with worksheets, videos, and books around specific skills students need to master. They also provide practical advice on how to set up at-home learning.

Cindi Williams is co-founder of Learning Heroes, a Principal at HCM Strategists, and a former senior official at the US Department of Education, the White House, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.



Learning Heroes

Learning Heroes serves to inform and equip parents to be advocates for their children and best support their academic, social, and emotional development.