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Modern Parenthood

Summer school: Free online educational activities for students and adults

Online you will find a wealth of websites to help your kids, or yourself, learn materials from the least to most complex. Think there's no substitution for face-to-face learning? One woman's goddaughter passed college level chemistry, and you could too. 

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Sandhu went to the following sites, tried them out, and evaluated each one:

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Lisa Suhay, who has four sons at home in Norfolk, Va., is a children’s book author and founder of the Norfolk (Va.) Initiative for Chess Excellence (NICE) , a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth via mentoring and teaching the game of chess for critical thinking and life strategies.

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As Sandhu researched each site, she shared her findings with her godmother. Their favorites quickly became Patrick JMT for calculus and Khan Academy for its 20 minute videos and worksheets, according to Sinquefield.

Sandhu wrote in the local newspaper, “I believe that education is the most important thing a person can have; it is the one thing that no one can ever take away from you. At the same time, I think it is unfortunate that a lot of children are unable to access tutoring due to the expense.”

My favorite new expression comes from Sinquefield explaining why she personally gravitates to the Khan Academy’s free lessons online, “I don’t want to do an hour because I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to talk to anyone longer than they are old. I just zone out.”

Not just for students

“Let’s say you’re bad at math and so you never feel comfortable checking your child’s homework. Well these free sites help you teach yourself. They start at 1+1 and go right up the chain to advanced calculus,” Sinquefield says.

I road tested the sites Sinquefield recommended, and a few I found on my own, with my son Quin, who at 9-years-old is a math and science wiz whose homework challenges my math-unfriendly brain.

His favorite? “Bookmark the Khan one so I can be all over it after school!”

I agree, but also fell in love with HippoCampus I liked these videos best for me for it’s easy to follow math videos and with the TedEd site for it’s witty, well-illustrated lessons and lesson plans that are free and have the added advantage of being “flipped” by various educators who add their plans and ideas to the site regularly.

For some seriously fun and expansive learning across all STEAM (science technology engineering art and math) platforms, my sons and I look up the Vsauce and Minute Physics channels on YouTube which have put us on the cutting edge of those topics and generated endless non-video-game-related conversation at the dinner table.

There are enough free online tutoring and education services out there to make both parents and kids into mathmagicians, chemists, explorers, and better readers. At the very least they made me feel like I didn’t have to feel guilty over not being able to engage in homework help sessions for subjects I didn’t excel in.

You learn something new every day, especially when you want to be smarter than your third grader.

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