Insights & Expertise

Saint Joseph's Faculty Suggest Free Resources to Keep Your Child's Education on Track

scrabble tiles spelling out "learn"

Whether your child’s school has transitioned to online learning or not, many parents are feeling the pressure to keep kids’ minds engaged and to encourage their intellectual curiosity during this time of physical distancing. We asked five Saint Joseph’s education experts to share their favorite free resources and what makes those sites stand out from the pack: 

1. “For STEM Education, the National Science Foundation offers a collection of valuable information for teaching and learning STEM subjects at all levels. In addition, PBS Learning Media has developed and shared resources for students of all ages from pre-K-high school and above with classroom resources available in many disciplines from the arts to astronomy.” —Tetyana Berezovski, Ph.D., professor of mathematics

2. “Common Sense Media does a lot of good work around technology for schools and families. They provide digital packets for kindergarten, first, and second grade, but many of the resources they share would be useful for pre-K-grades four or even five, especially those on the additional resources slides. Another favorite is Learning Keeps Going, a joint effort by a number of educational organizations that is pulling together all the free technology resources.” — Janine M. Firmender, Ph.D., associate professor of teacher education

3. “As part of the Pennsylvania chapter of The Reading League, of which SJU is a mission partner and I am a co-founding member, we worked to create a curated Wakelet [an online content curation platform] that has resources for parents who, like myself, have found themselves unexpectedly homeschooling. I love that all of these resources are aligned with the science of reading so kids can continue to improve on practices that will enable them to become proficient readers and love it on the way there! We actually created three Wakelets, two for teachers and one for parents. All three can be found at this link” — Jaclyn Galbally Ph.D., assistant professor of special education

4. “During this uncertain time, while schools and libraries are closed, it is important for students and families to have access to books. Two organizations that offer free, high-quality books for students are Unite for Literacy and the National Science Teaching Association. Unite for Literacy is a website for pre-K through third grade students that features free fiction and non-fiction books translated into over 44 different languages. The website was ranked Best of 2019 for teaching and learning by the American Association of School Librarians. New to the website is a timely informational book, ‘Kids Want to Know: What is COVID-19?’ by Holly Hartman. The National Science Teaching Association website features several interactive ebooks involving animations, simulations, and videos of scientific concepts and phenomena, appropriate for students in grades K-12.” — Monica A. Belfatti, Ph.D., assistant professor of practice of teacher education

5. “Middle school girls can participate in free workshops focused on computer science through TechGirlz, whose mission is to ‘inspire middle school girls to explore the possibilities of technology to empower their future careers.’ Another resource for STEM education at home is SciStarter, where families can explore various citizen science projects which enable public participation in data collection.” — Stacy Olitsky, Ph.D., associate professor of teacher education

For families with children on the autism spectrum, Saint Joseph’s Kinney Center for Autism Education and Support  is releasing daily lessons on a variety of topics through the Center’s YouTube page.