The 15 Best Online Learning Services for Kids – PCMag.com
Send your children to these websites to let them learn, study, indulge their curiosity, and get a fresh perspective on academic subjects.
You want your kids to be curious, explore their interests, and keep learning even when they’re not in school. Wouldn’t it be nice if, after getting stuck on a homework problem or struggling with new academic material, they knew where to go to get a different explanation or a little help? The best online learning sites for kids do just that.
The reality is there are thousands of sites and apps that classify themselves as “educational.” It’s a broad category. “Kids” is an equally broad term. Here, we use it in the widest sense possible, so you’ll find websites with learning opportunities for preschoolers (ages 3–5 years) through early college (18 years).
To narrow it down, we looked for sites that do at least one of the following:
Offer specific academic help
Encourage young people to explore educational topics that are of interest to them
Teach basic concepts and skills to very young children
In addition to the above criteria, we also ranked sites highly for having:
Reliable, trustworthy, and accurate content
Educational hooks, meaning the material was either directly related to academics or lets kids explore topics that have educational value
Compelling materials and designs that draw in the learner
Stable and easy-to-use interactive components
Clear pricing and payment information, where relevant
We have included a few sites that offer educational material specifically targeted at the US education system, such as AP (Advanced Placement, i.e., university accredited) classes and Regents exams. We have not included sites that have specific learning for non-US-based education systems. We also did not include services that are appropriate for adult learners and have kid appeal; see, for example, the family version of the learning materials in Jane Goodall’s MasterClass.
Want to take your kids’ education beyond the classroom? These are our favorite learning sites for kids.
Ages 12+ years, with some content for younger learners
Free; paid accounts starting at $9.99 per month
Brainscape is an adaptive flashcard app and website that comes preloaded with excellent study sets for students in high school and beyond. For example, there are flashcard sets to study for the drivers’ ed exam in several states, decks for AP classes, and so on. Professionals can find study sets for passing standardized vocational exams, too. With a paid account, you can make your own custom study sets. There’s a little premade content for younger students, such as sight reading cards, but Brainscape is ideally suited to learners from 12 years and up.
Ages 13+ years
CoolMath is a free site that explains pre-algebra, algebra, and pre-calculus concepts in ways that students may not have encountered. By getting a fresh take on, say, polynomials, students age 13 and up have a great chance at getting many mathematical concepts to click.
Ages 12 years and younger
The same group behind CoolMath makes CoolMath4kids, which is suitable for younger kids working on more basic math concepts. This site covers addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and fractions. It’s more interactive than the version for older learners, with games, brain teasers, and quizzes.
Encourage kids ages 7–17 to read age-appropriate news on DOGOnews. This site has timely articles covering current events, science, the environment, civics, and other topics, all written in a way that young people can understand. It’s available in English and Spanish.
Funbrain is a site that students explore topics of interest through readings and interactive content, or play games to help them drill math concepts. This site is better for engaging educational curiosity than it is for getting help with specific subject matter. The games are hit and miss, with some suffering from poor controls and little educational value.
Khan Academy teaches scholastics: math, science, computing, economics, life skills, history, reading and language arts. It’s been one of the most popular learning sites for years, helping students of all ages learn everything from phonics to personal finance. You learn primarily by watching videos, but there are quizzes, too. Kids aged seven years and younger who might have a hard time navigating the website will find lessons and games that are appropriate for them in an easy-to-use mobile app called Khan Academy Kids (for Android and iOS devices).
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a subsection of its site called Learning at Home that contains online courses and activities for young people to learn about marine animals, ecosystems, ocean conservation, and related topics. The site is available in English and Spanish. In addition to online courses, which you can view by grade level, the site also has crafts, suggestions for parent-led activities, and short readings (facts and photos) about various animals and plants.
The online, kids version of National Geographic gives young people educational articles, videos, and quizzes on a variety of topics, including animals, history, science, and space. National Geographic Kids isn’t as interactive as some sites, but it’s a nice place to find short articles related to timely topics, such as a kids-appropriate history of Juneteenth. With a name like “National” Geographic, however, it is very US-centric in what it covers and how.
PBSLearningMedia has a wealth of content that teachers can use, or that students who are old enough to use a computer unsupervised can independently explore. It has videos, as well as interactive lessons teaching art, social studies, health and physical education, science, math, engineering, and other subjects. For very young children, roughly ages 2–5 years, you can find more age-appropriate shows and interactive content at PBSKids; we didn’t include it officially in this list because it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a “learning” site, though some content may be educational.
Free limited version; paid plans from about $36 per year
Quizlet started as a flash card app, and has grown to offer games, quizzes, and other ways for young people to learn, review, and study. With Quizlet, you can create custom decks of material to study or look for content that other people have uploaded and shared. A free version gives you limited ways to interact with your content, and a paid account unlocks almost everything else. Some study decks shared by professional organizations may cost extra.
On Scholastic’s kids website, there’s a great resource of educational reading material for kids approximately 10 years and younger called Learn at Home for Families. There, you’ll find short educational articles geared toward kids with curiosity about roller coasters, genetics, animals, geography, and other topics. You can sort by grade level to find articles that are appropriate for the young learners in your life.
For the littlest learners, nothing beats the classic educational content from Sesame Street or Sesamo (if you want the learning experience in Spanish or Portuguese). The two-to-five year-old crowd can use this interactive website to play games, watch videos, make art, and more. The educational aspect is mostly in the form of learning how to follow directions, develop motor skills, identify basic shapes (like animals), and so forth.
$35 per year for Home membership; some content free
Starfall mostly focuses on content that helps children learn to read, as well as learn and practice simple math. The interactivity is good and reasonably engaging. Some content is available for free, but you’ll need a membership, starting at $35 per year, to access everything on the site.
Appropriate for young adults and mature children
TED-Ed is TED’s youth and education initiative. It’s a site where you can find short educational videos about a wide range of topics, including those related to current affairs. For example, some of the latest videos on TED explain how face-coverings prevent the spread of disease. While the site doesn’t seem to have an official recommendation regarding the appropriate age group for its content, one video we previewed referenced HIV/AIDS and condoms, so it’s perhaps best suited to young adults and mature children who are capable of either understanding or asking questions about some advanced topics.
TIME Magazine has a website for kids with articles that are entertaining and educational, available in both English and Spanish. TIME for Kids‘ articles have interactive elements, such as a word look-up feature that helps young learners expand their vocabulary. You’ll find book reviews for kids by kids, as well as insights on health, sports, conservationism, and more. You can sort articles into age categories to make sure your young learners get articles that will be interesting and accessible to them.
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Jill Duffy is the deputy managing editor of the Software team at PCMag. She has been writing for and contributing to the site since 2011, covering productivity apps and software, as well as technologies for health and fitness. She writes the Get Organized column, with tips on how to lead a better digital life.
Her latest book is The Everything Guide to Remote Work. Follow her on Twitter or get in touch on the Jill Duffy contact page.
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