How to keep kids learning as Minnesota schools remain closed during coronavirus outbreak

An empty school classroom
Here are some ideas from the MPR News audience and elsewhere for kids to continue learning, but from home, amid school closures.
Cody Nelson | MPR News file

Minnesota parents and students received something of an unexpected spring break this week, except this one isn’t any fun.

Gov. Tim Walz’s ordered that all schools must shutter through March 27, at least, in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19, the highly contagious disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The move leaves more than 850,000 Minnesota students out of the classroom and more than 135,000 school employees out of work.

For parents, there were immediate questions regarding how to keep students learning despite the classroom hiatus. Several parents pitched questions and ideas for keeping kids learning amid the coronavirus outbreak. The parents offered their insights in MPR News’ parenting Facebook group, Raising Kids in Minnesota.

Here are some ideas from the MPR News audience and elsewhere to continue learning from home.

Story time to work on reading skills

Of course, reading to kids the old-fashioned way works great. But if work or working from home gets in the way, parents can outsource story time to the internet. Storyline has free videos of storytelling pros reading new and classic tales. Scholastic has remote reading curriculums for students of all ages, organized by grade level. The International Children’s Digital Library has kids’ books in multiple languages.

Attend a virtual event

Concerts, lectures, worship services and more are moving online for safety’s sake. Flatten the Curve, a new Facebook group, has popped up as a place for people to share virtual events.

Many are kid- and family-focused.

Try a kids’ podcast

A good one is Brains On! It’s a science podcast for kids made by MPR News’ colleagues at American Public Media. They’ve produced a timely episode on the coronavirus. Another option for science is But Why, a Vermont Public Radio podcast where kids ask questions and journalists find answers.

Keep a daily schedule

Maintaining some sense of normality can be important in a time of crisis, especially for kids. Khan Academy has posted a suggested daily schedule for kids and their parents to follow.

Educational games

Gaming isn’t all mindless fun. Funbrain, for example, is a website full of educational games for many subjects.

Get a taste of the arts

Visit the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s archive for recordings of classic, stimulating pieces. Visit Google’s arts and culture website to take tours of famous museums and locales.

Classical MPR also has a YouTube channel with music playlists and illustrated children's story time videos.

Use the internet to help

Despite the intentional isolation and social distancing being called for across the state and nation to stave off the spread of the virus, nobody is alone in this outbreak.

Parents across the world are sharing resources for how to weather school closures. Take this Google Sheet full of more than 150 enriching activities for kids. And there’s a list of educational websites that’s far more extensive than this article can be.

Join MPR News’ parenting Facebook group to share your ideas and continue the discussion with others raising kids in Minnesota.