Homeschooling / online schooling

How Do I Find Free Online Classes for My Child?

By Jessica Millstone

How do I find free online classes for my child? And how can I tell if they’re any good or not?

Jessica Millstone

Former Education Fellow, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop

Online courses can be a good option for many kids with learning and attention issues. These courses are becoming more popular too. There are many more K–12 online offerings now than in years past. Some are free, and the ones that cost money are still typically less expensive than an in-person class.

It’s not hard to find online courses in a subject area of interest. A quick Google search is likely to pull up lots of offerings. But you need to be selective. There are different styles and formats, and you want to find a course that works best for your child’s learning strengths. Look through the offerings carefully and make your selections with a few questions in mind.

Are you looking for an online class to replace the one in your child’s current school?

There are online or virtual public schools that students can attend for free. Talk to your local school district to see what’s available in your state. Also ask whether your child can take a mix of online classes and ones taught in your local brick-and-mortar school.

Many virtual schools are run by private companies that also offer individual classes for a fee. If a provider has been approved by your state, that’s generally a good sign in terms of instructional quality.

Are you looking for an online class to supplement what your child is learning in school?

Using a free video- and game-based tutoring service such as Khan Academy could provide information in ways that might be more geared to your child’s learning strengths. There are some free classes for high-schoolers on Education Portal. For art fans, the Museum of Modern Art has free online content for kids, including videos exploring different works of art. Look for free educational offerings on other museum sites too.

The homeschooling community can also be a good place to look for free or relatively low-cost online programs. Some sites charge by the month instead of by the course. Gifted students may want to consider Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. Its K–12 classes aren’t free, but the program offers financial aid.

What kinds of support does the class offer its students?

Before you sign up, find out what kind of resources will be available to your child. How often will your child have a chance to interact with the instructor? What about student-to-student interaction? Can the curriculum be accessed using your child’s assistive technology?

You may want to ask online schools additional questions. Understanding more about online schools and blended learning can help you shop for courses too. You can also ask parents in our online community for recommendations.

About the Author

Portrait of Jessica Millstone

Jessica Millstone

Former Education Fellow, Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop.

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