Throughout the last year, we’ve radically changed the way we live, work, and learn. With so many new options for student enrichment and online education, you may be wondering: what are the best online classes for kids?
There’s a lot to wade through on the internet, and not all online classes are created equal. In this blog post, we’ll help you figure out what makes an e-learning experience great and walk you through some of the best classes you can find online.
Discover the best online classes for kids
E-learning is new for almost all of us. It can take some time to develop filters for what makes a class good. Supporting your students’ online learning is another new challenge — how can you keep your child excited about learning if they’re in front of a screen all day?
What classes are best to take online?
In a nutshell, the best classes to take online focus on subjects that are of interest to your student. While students can absolutely learn new skills or broaden their horizons by taking online classes, success rates tend to be higher when students are learning something they want to learn. This is true for non-virtual education as well, but in-person school has more peer interactions and accountability structures to keep your students engaged.
Online classes can either be synchronous (live), asynchronous (work at your own pace), or a combination of both. Students can succeed in both types of classes, although synchronous classes have the benefit of teachers who can provide live feedback and create a sense of a class community.
We recommend seeking out classes that have small class sizes, as this allows for more one-on-one time with the teacher. Identify classes that have plenty of engaging activities and fun things for students to do. If the teacher talks for the entire class time or your student is only watching videos, there are likely better options out there.
Additionally, the best classes allow students to be creative: instead of simply replicating instructions, students are given the freedom to experiment. Encouraging students’ creativity helps them develop a deeper understanding of the underlying concepts.
How can I help my child with online school?
One of the biggest challenges with online school is keeping students accountable and engaged. We get it - learning over Zoom can be a big adjustment for kids. There are several things you as a parent or mentor can do, however, to help your kids adapt to a changing learning environment.
Quick tips for helping your child with online classes:
- Work with your student to develop their organizational skills so that they can keep track of assignments and homework on their own.
- Teach your student how to email. Make sure they are comfortable reaching out to their teacher with questions and that they answer emails in a timely way.
- Organize virtual hang-outs with a few of your students’ peers so they can get used to video calls in a low-stakes environment.
- Encourage your student to keep their video on (if your internet allows for it). It really helps students stay connected to the class as it is harder to get distracted or tune out.
- Ask your child about their online classes! Show them you are interested in their education, and they learn it is something worth investing in.
15 of the best online classes for kids from awesome learning platforms
In this next section, we’re going to cover some of our favorite online classes for kids. We’ll discuss both free and paid options, live and pre-recorded classes, and even identify some great, longer options for homeschooling. To help you judge which of these classes are right for you, we’ll discuss some key factors, including age range and format, and evaluate the pros and cons of the platform.
Fun classes for kids
1. Create & Learn’s AI Explorers
Create & Learn is a global educational startup that teaches elementary and middle grade students the fundamentals of Computer Science, coding, and beyond. AI Explorers is an exciting, high-tech series of classes that takes students on a tour of one of the most important technologies of our lifetime: Artificial Intelligence.
Students interact with cutting edge AI systems, build games, and learn the theory behind how Machine Learning algorithms are developed. Your student can sign up for a free AI for kids introductory class, then continue on through the three different levels of AI Explorers.
Age range: 9-12
Format: 4 live one hour classes per unit, 3 units
Promising review: “My son loves enjoying time with these coding class. Very helpful, friendly teachers with affordable price. Highly recommended!”
2. Outschool’s Magic Performance
Interested in perfecting a magic trick that is sure to impress your family and friends? Learn magic performance with Outschool, a marketplace for live online classes of all subjects. Instructor James Cielen is an award-winning, professional magician from Las Vegas who teaches the fundamentals of magic performance.
You will learn not just a new trick, but also how to perform it in a theatrical and convincing way. This magic master class is great for a creative student looking to get into magic. Minimal supplies are required.
Age range: 9-14
Format: One time, 55-minute live class
Promising review: “My son took this class and it was amazing. I cannot say enough about the instructor. I highly recommend this class and teacher!”
3. Skillshare’s The Magic of Math in Moviemaking
For aspiring artists, engineers, or filmmakers, The Magic of Math in Moviemaking is a great choice. Students learn how to create claymation movies using their phones and some basic arts supplies, all while honing their math, engineering, and design skills. This class does require supplies, but you can improvise with what you have around the house.
Age range: 8-11
Format: Pre-recorded, 20 minutes of class
Promising review: “This class exceeded my expectations!”
4. Outschool’s Photography Class:
Move beyond iPhone Auto mode and learn how to take photos like the pros in this engaging seminar. Taught by a professional photographer, this kids' photography class covers photography basics, including camera operation and use of light. You will need a camera to take this class.
Age range: 13-18
Format: One time, 40-minute live class
Promising review: “My son loved this course and the instructor. He learned so much and is thrilled about applying his new knowledge to his photo taking.”
5. Game design with Google CS now
Google’s CS curriculum will guide your student through the basics of game design using Scratch. Students watch videos and then apply what they learn directly in Scratch. Learn how to make platformer games, mazes, quests, and more.
Google’s tools allow you to save your work and to work at your own pace. While Google indicates that no coding experience is required, it would be helpful for students to have some Scratch under their belts.
Age range: 11-15
Format: Pre-recorded, 8-12 hours
Promising review: “The curriculum is crafted with ease and engagement in mind. The coding platform (Scratch) has a proven record of getting kids hooked on coding, creating, and remixing. The rewatchable videos make learning accessible.”
Live classes for kids
6. KidPass’s Virtual Astronomy Space Academy
If your student loves space, astronomy, or just science in general, KidPass’s Virtual Astronomy is sure to astound and amaze. Students will learn all about the universe from a practicing astronomer. The class covers space basic concepts and terminology, and will get your kid excited about the world above them.
Age range: 4-17
Format: One time 45-minute live class
Promising review: “It was great. My daughter really loved it and the professor was so nice, knowledgeable, and generous with his time.”
7. The Thinking Kid’s Museums Around the World
In a time when so many cultural spots are closed, get your child excited about art and artifacts with TTK’s Museums Around the World class. Students get to “tour” these institutions, learning about antiquities in many different countries: The British Museum, the Met, the Vatican, and several others. This class is only offered once per semester, but covers a lot of ground.
Age range: 9-11
Format: 6 live one hour classes
Promising review: “We have taken multiple classes and virtual field trips with The Thinking Kid. We love the teachers and staff. Highly recommend.”
8. Create & Learn’s Minecraft Code To Mod
Create & Learn’s popular Code to Mod Class leverages students’ interest in the game Minecraft to get them coding. Your student will exercise their creativity by programming stories, buildings, and puzzles, and see them come to life within the game. Code to Mod is a small group class, taught by an expert teacher.
Age range: 9-13
Format: 4 live one hour classes per unit, 3 units
Promising review: “My son tried the free class for Minecraft Code to Mod and loved it. We decided to sign him up for the summer camp and he looks forward to the class every week. The teacher is awesome and she makes it fun!”
9. Outschool’s Forensic Science Course
Any aspiring detective or scientist will enjoy Outschool’s class on Forensic Science. The teacher, an expert on forensics, takes the class through a mysterious case study, covering a variety of techniques for analyzing evidence. Students also get a chance to put their new expertise to the test with real-world case studies like the Zodiac Killer or Jack the Ripper (No gore! Just science!).
Age range: 11-16
Format: 9 live one hour classes
Promising review: "I'm 13 and in 7th grade and I loved the class; it was really interesting. The teacher is awesome! I'm already signed up for the next class."
10. ActivityHero’s Creative Writing Class
Unleash your student’s writing potential with ActivityHero’s Creative Writing class. In this four week course, students learn how to write different genres, employing many fundamental writing techniques. By the end of class, students will have penned several original pieces.
Age range: 9-12
Format: 4 live one hour classes
Promising review: "My son has been taking two courses. Small environment and very interactive. He is really enjoying."
Online homeschool classes
11. Khan's Academy’s Personal Finance Series
Khan Academy remains one of the best pre-recorded educational services on the internet today, and its Personal Finance series is excellent. With units on Saving and Budgeting, Taxes, and even Paying for College, Khan Academy will teach your student practical ‘life math’ not always covered in school.
Age range: 13+
Format: 4+ hours of pre-recorded videos
Promising review: "I like the way the teacher speaks to the student. I also like the ease with which my students can grasp concepts when taught another way, such as with Khan."
12. Create & Learn’s Scratch Ninja
Learn Scratch, the most popular coding platform for kids today, with Create & Learn's Scratch Ninja. Working in a small group, your student will learn all the important coding fundamentals by building games, animations, and more. With expert guidance from experienced teachers, your student will bring their imagination to life in Scratch. Create & Learn offers several sections of Scratch Ninja, scaled for different ages and experience levels.
Age range: 6-14
Format: 4 live one hour classes per unit, 3+ units
Promising review: "My kid is having a blast with the Scratch class. It’s a fun way to introduce her to coding. She’s learning so much and you can really tell the instructors care about your kid succeeding and having fun in the process! Highly recommend!"
13. Outschool’s Be in a Play Drama Class
Be in a Play is a great choice for your aspiring thespian. The instructor selects a different play every week, and students work together to perform it over video calling. In addition to building reading and public speaking skills, this class is a great social opportunity for kids.
Age range: 7-11
Format: One live 55 minute class
Promising review: "I was a little nervous about how my 10 year old son would respond to a virtual acting class. I didn't know if it would be engaging enough to hold his attention for an hour or if he would develop skills but he absolutely loves it and strengthens acting skills, cooperation skills and creativity every time."
14. Mystery Science’s Phases of Matter Class
Learn all about materials with Mystery Science! Students will learn engineering and scientific skills through fun activities. Discover how we choose materials for every-day objects and explore the basics of matter. These classes require some adult help, but the activities are well-designed and easy for parents to set up and implement.
Age range: 7-9
Format: 5 <45 minute video & exploration lessons
Promising review: "I use this twice a week for homeschooling. It is my favorite purchase and definitely my oldest son's favorite so I use it for our core science curriculum."
15. Dynamite Dinner Club’s Cooking Class
The Dynamite Shop’s Dinner club is a perfect option for kids who love cooking or who want to help out more at home. Students learn to make many different recipes, suitable for several dietary restrictions. Small classes with multiple teachers allow for lots of individual instruction, and there’s a special section just for teens.
Age range: 7-17
Format: 12 live ninety minute classes (drop-ins available too)
Promising review: “Simply the best thing going for kids right now,” per The Kitchn.
Enjoy the best online classes for kids
We hope we’ve helped you find some great potential online classes for your child. These courses are some of the many options to keep students engaged and excited about learning online. If you want even more, check out the best online coding classes for kids created by Create & Learn to get your student coding.
Up next, read all about even more free coding resources for kids.
Written by Sarah Rappaport, who graduated from Northwestern University with undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering and music. She's now working on a masters in data with Georgia Institute of Technology. She taught math and computer science with Teach for America for two years, and now works as a Systems Engineer.