After months of ad-hoc homeschooling, you're probably eager for ways kids can get in some learning this summer—preferably without you as the "teacher." Content that strengthens kids' grasp of core subject areas like math, science, language arts, and social studies—that also engages their minds in ways they wouldn't necessarily get in class—are ideal for slower-paced days. For this, we love things like podcasts and apps that require little more than figuring out what your kid likes to do and wants to learn—and then leaving them alone to do just that. This week, you'll find podcasts for summer learning to add to our steadily growing list of podcast recommendations, plus apps that act like tutors for math and science concepts, and books about racism and social justice to add to your kids' summer education exploits.
Senior parenting editor, mom of one
Which podcasts can I download for summer learning?
Summer slide is no joke, and for many kids, school closures due to the coronavirus pandemic have made those slides verrrrrrrry slippery. If you want to keep your kid learning this summer in a fun way, or you're simply looking for a kid-approved way to keep them busy for half an hour, try podcasts. From science shows that answer kids' real questions to storytime podcasts to help them work on reading comprehension, there is so much to learn from audio series that kids can listen to solo or enjoy with family just like an old-timey radio show.
While you will need a mobile device, smart speaker, or computer, podcasts offer a welcome respite from screens. And if you plan ahead, you don't even need to be connected to Wi-Fi to listen. Some of the podcasts we recommend, such as Brains On, encourage kids to do simple real-time projects and experiments to enrich learning. Others, like Stuff You Missed in History Class and the 1619 Project, teach kids about important events and issues from U.S. history, using stories to rivet their attention. Whether your family is new to podcasts or you're adding to your download queue, you'll find something to keep kids of all ages listening and learning through the summer—and beyond. Read more
Are there apps that can keep kids learning over the summer?
If you're making your kids study over the summer (or you have a miraculously self-directed learner), you may want to hook them up with some tutoring help, in the form of an app. Tutoring apps all work a bit differently—and many cost money—so it's a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few options to determine what'll work best for your situation. Some of the tools we recommend—for example, MathPapa—offer tutorials on various concepts kids can watch, read, or print. Some—like Chegg Math Solver and Socratic by Google—offer step-by-step solutions for those elusive equations. But you do have to be careful, because some of these apps literally give kids the answers and could lead to cheating—so you'll need to keep an eye on those if you decide to use them. If your kid needs a live tutor, you can find that, too, with apps like Course Hero and Yup Math Tutoring, where kids can connect with a real human being who will talk through the problems. Read more
Any good books to help kids make sense of protests?
When your kids see demonstrations in the street or on the news as a response to racist incidents, you can help them understand what's going on by giving them some historical context. Sometimes such actions reflect a healthy democracy. Sometimes they lead to changing laws. Some movements are peaceful; others turn violent. These books tell true and fictional stories of people's experiences of racism and of those who put their bodies on the line for the cause of equality under the law and social justice. Pick up a few—like American Born Chinese or I'm Not Dying with You Tonight—and spark a conversation. See the list
Connect with Common Sense Parents
Got a screen-time dilemma? Need support on a challenging media issue? Join Common Sense Parents, a Facebook group for media-aware parents sharing solutions, personal experience, and community to support you in all aspects of raising kids in the digital age. Join now
Wide Open School Virtual Summer Camp
Our new site Wide Open School offers a huge range of free, grade-based activities to keep kids busy and learning all day. At Virtual Summer Camp, kids can explore lessons in STEM, music appreciation, language arts, art and creativity, and more—all designed to stimulate curiosity, deep thinking, self-awareness, and joy. Summer themes include Animals, Plants and the Planet, Self-Expression and Story-Telling, and Space, Exploring, and Experiments--start now. Resources are available for Spanish-speaking families.
Podcast: Talking to your kids about what's happening in the news
Making sense of the news—and then figuring out how to talk to your kids about it—is challenging (especially for families already stressed with coronavirus fallout). For much-needed guidance and practical tips on discussing tough topics such as race, public safety, and protesting, download this week's Parent Trapped podcast featuring Allison Briscoe-Smith, a child psychologist and the director of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the Wright Institute. Subscribe now so you don't miss out. New episodes come out on Wednesdays. Available on Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts.
Support for what you're dealing with now
Crawling the walls? Sheltering in place? We're all parenting in new terrain. Get smart, sensible support from authors, experts, and thought leaders in our Conversations with Common Sense webinar series. Covering a wide range of relevant topics, from discussing race to revealing uncomfortable emotions, you'll hear from people like Dr. Lisa Damour, New York Times columnist and author; Dr. Nathan Chomilo, Minneapolis pediatrician and equity advocate; and Ellen Galinsky, chief science officer at the Bezos Family Foundation, whose advice, tips, and ideas can help us all raise happy, healthy kids. Watch now
For more information, please visit https://www.commonsensemedia.org/