Those in education will tell you that sooner is always better than later when it comes to education. If your children or students struggle with learning due to the COVID pandemic or if they need extra stimulation after school, there’s never been a better time to add some online learning programs to their curriculum. This list of online learning programs for kids will look at examples for very young children to high school students, so wherever your kids are, they can benefit from some of these expert-recommended online resources.
Discover some of the best learning programs for kids
Most of these are either free or they have free options. Most have paid options that open up new resources or even live instruction by a teacher. Try not to get overwhelmed by these learning platforms, and be sure to try out any program before committing to it. Follow your kids’ interests and any of these choices will work well for them.
Elementary school learning programs
Younger kids thrive with encouragement and fun. Play should be a major part of any young child’s education, as what they perceive as “fun” early in life will be easier to reinforce later. Programs should be colorful, enticing, and immersive so kids aren’t even focused on the idea of being in school, but rather that learning is a part of having a good time.
1. Beginner Coding Program
Scratch is an excellent place for kids who love coding to begin because it uses a LEGO-like drag-and-drop interface to help kids learn coding logic. Using Scratch, one of the best platforms for kids to learn computer science, Create & Learn's award-winning live online classes offer students a chance to build their own games, animations, and other programs with the help of a professional coding teacher. The courses are suitable for different ages, but this is a great one for younger kids. There's even a free intro lesson, to this course, designed by experts from Google, Stanford, and MIT.
2. Scholastic Learn at Home
If your child is 10 years old or younger and loves reading, the Scholastic Learn at Home program offers a lot of awesome fun activities for kids to learn. They have activity books and workbooks, reading guides for parents and students, and educational articles geared towards kids about engineering, genetics, animals, and so much more.
Grades: K - 5
3. National Geographic Kids
As a leader of wildlife, anthropological, and environmental photography and journalism, National Geographic offers tons of great resources for kids. There are great lesson plans, interactive websites, and tons of maps available to kids. They have a focus on the United States, but they feature great articles that reflect current events in science, history, and space travel. They also offer a monthly subscription to their magazine for a yearly fee.
Grades: K - 8
4. PBS Kids
Sesame Street. Arthur. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. These names are some of the most respected in early childhood edu-tainment that have grown and evolved over the past half century through PBS media. The great resources on their website are perfect for kids who study at home or those looking for fun, educational boosts for their interests and hobbies.
Grades: K - 2
5. Sesame Street and Sesamo
For very young children aged 2 - 5, there’s few resources as great as Sesame Street or Sesamo (for Spanish and Portuguese speaking students). Learning about counting, shapes, and basic phonics with Elmo, Big Bird, and Oscar the Grouch is even more easy and fun with their online programming and educational resources.
Grades: K - 2
Middle school learning programs for kids
Middle school kids need greater challenges, but also fun and encouragement. They are ready for complex topics, but shouldn’t be pushed too far too fast. These websites and apps are all great for middle school students.
6. PBS Learning Media
PBS is not just for younger kids. They have tons of great resources for middle school kids as well. Learn about the history of science, world geography, and many other cool topics for kids. The videos have a great production value and they are all free.
Grades: 6 - 8
Funbrain is a great learning platform for kids, which allows them to explore math and science through reading and interactive content. As PCMag said in a review, “This site is better for engaging educational curiosity than it is for getting help with specific subject matter.” Some of the games are better than others, but it has content for kids from pre-K to middle school.
Grades: K - 8
8. DOGO News
A great place to start for kids interested in news and current events. These resources are focused on English language arts (ELA), but they also foster curiosity, critical thinking, and reflection about world events, presented in a kid-friendly way. The site is updated frequently, ensuring a steady stream of fresh videos for kids.
Grades: 6 - 12
9. Coding for Middle Schoolers
Designed to teach older kids how to code, this is an accelerated Scratch coding class that's beginner friendly and uses MIT’s Scratch programming language, in which kids code using colorful and easy to use blocks that take the guesswork out of coding. These live online classes taught by teachers in small groups can help kids design cool games and much more.
Grades: 5 - 9
Brainscape is a flashcard app that helps kids to study virtually any subject from Middle School and High School. Kids can get flashcards for Algebra, Biology, Chemistry, and Driver’s Ed. They have special flashcard decks for specific AP subjects as well as for standardized tests. It’s got some content for younger kids, but most of its flashcards are aimed at middle to high school students.
Grades: 6 - 12
Learning programs for high school kids
High school is a challenging time, especially for kids who are struggling and for those who dream big about colleges and careers. These websites offer both videos, quizzes, and live classes to help high school students learn better.
11. Python Programming
Have fun mastering this essential computer programming language. PPython is a high-level coding language used by companies such as Netflix and Google, and it is also used for web development, game development, building apps, machine learning, and so much more. This live online class covers not only the basics of Python coding for kids and teens, but also puts a strong focus on the elements of Python that are most relevant to Artificial Intelligence, including data structures and libraries.
12. Game Programming with Unity
High schoolers love gaming. It’s one of the most popular things for older kids, and what better way to encourage an interest in coding and computer science than to help kids design their own games? This Unity Game design course features training in Unity, the development framework for popular games like Flappy Bird, Candy Crush, and Hollow Knight.
Grades: 6 - 12
13. Monterey Bay Aquarium Learn from Home
For high school students with an interest in biology, oceanography, and other Earth sciences, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has a great feature on their website called, Learn from Home, focused on bringing STEM education out of the museum and into the home. Recognizing that many kids moved to home schooling after the pandemic, this resource seeks to bring kids up to speed on the latest climate science.
Grades: 6 - 12
14. Khan Academy
Khan Academy has become famous over the past decade, for good reason: it’s one of the best platforms for kids to learn math, science, and other subjects. There are tons of free classes aimed at bringing kids up to speed with their grade in a comfortable tutoring environment that uses videos. But everything they produce is high quality, and they encourage kids to have a growth mindset, meaning that they can get better at anything they apply themselves to. They have content for kids of all ages, but much of their videos for older kids are great for tutoring.
Grades: K - 12
15. TED ED
TED talks have become one of the most popular ways for new information and academic research to get to the public, so it’s not surprising that they have great learning resources for middle and high school students as well. Explore the dark history of zombies, the science of climate change, and how candy is made. It’s fun and educational!
Grades: 6 - 12
Bonus. AP Computer Science in Java
For high school students who want to go the extra mile and pass the AP exam in Computer Science A, this course is a golden opportunity for learning the requirements for the exam and the study methods that will help each student achieve a high score of 4 or 5 on the AP exam. It is not an easy course, and students should already have some understanding of coding and computer science, but with that, advanced students will find great learning opportunities with the help of a live, professional educator.
Grades: 10 - 12
If you haven’t found something here, there are some great articles on the topic at Parents, PCMag, and Parenting that can give you even more great options.
Try the best learning programs for kids
Whether looking for fun activities for a home-schooled third grader, or tutoring resources for an ambitious senior in high school, there’s something for everyone to learn online. Up next, explore free STEM at-home learning resources. If you are looking for live instruction from an expert, consider exploring some of the best free online classes for kids next.
Written by Bryan Gordon, a Create & Learn instructor. After ten years of working as an English teacher, Bryan began studying Math and Computer Science over the past few years. Aside from writing and teaching, he likes cooking, gardening, playing guitar, and hanging out with his cats, Baguette and Wally.