This time last month, most of us probably hadn't even considered words like 'e-learning', 'online classrooms' and, yes, 'ABCmouse'.
And yet schools shutting all across the globe have left isolating families to find e-learning tools to keep the kids productive during lockdown - and an educational alternative to Disney+ shows!
Fortunately, a good few of the world's most popular and best online classrooms are offering prolonged free trials to ease the task of keeping your children occupied. If you have kids aged anywhere between two and 13 years old, there are e-learning options that you can take advantage of now without being committed to paying a thing once the free trial is up.
Below are five options worth considering. And remember...if you just sign up to one now and then cancel within the 30-day limit, you can grab these trials consecutvely and have the next five months of e-learning sorted without spending a thing!
Try one of these online classrooms for FREE:
ABCmouse | Ages 2 to 8 | $9.99 a month (approx £8.50/AU$17) | 30 days free
This superb distance learning tool is packed with lessons for kids between two and eight years old. It includes a huge range of activities across every subject that they'd normally be studying in the classroom. A subscription usually costs $9.99 per month, but you can try it free for 30 days.
Among the activities are a range of animations, games, books, songs, puzzles, and printables for coloring in. There’s also an interactive zoo, farm, and aquarium. Kids can create their own avatar as well, so that progressing through lessons and activities can feel more personalized and engaging.
Adventure Academy | Ages 8 to 13 | $9.99 a month (approx £8.50/AU$17) | 30 days free
Adventure Academy covers math, science, literacy and more, all within the framework of an RPG game. It's a great way to keep kids engaged with their learning, and it's free to try for the first month.
It features curriculum development for reading, writing and spelling, as well as general English comprehension. The math section covers multiplication and division, geometry, fractions and decimals, as well as word problems, while science includes all of physics, chemistry and biology. And there's loads more besides.
Reading Eggs | Ages 2 to 13 | $9.95/£6.99 a month (approx AU$17) | 30 days free
While some other services try to develop a whole range of skills and subjects, the name of Reading Eggs gives a pretty good indication of its main aim and specialism. Available on either desktop or via mobile app, the service is brimming with games, songs and other activities to try and improve your child's literacy and comprehension. It cleverly uses so-called 'golden egg' rewards to gamify learning. There are entire books on there, too, plus math lessons as a free extra via its Mathseeds strand.
There's a free trial for parents to sign up to now and, after that, the best value available is by joining for a whole year. Sign up, and you'll be joining another 10 million+ users already using Reading Eggs.
ReadingIQ | Ages 2 to 12 | $7.99 a month (approx £6.50/AU$13) | 30 days free
ReadingIQ is a huge library of digital childrens' books, with thousands of titles available to read on a tablet or e-reader. Subscriptions are usually a very reasonable $7.99 per month, but you can get one month free right now.
There are helpful suggestions by age group, specifically for pre-readers who are younger than two years old, emerging readers up to four years old, growing readers aimed at ages five to eight years, then advanced readers up to around 12 years old. There’s also a Spanish section suitable for readers between two and 12 years.
All of the books are available to read in digital format for tablet or smartphone as well as desktop, and there are both guided reading and recommended book options offered to encourage children to keep reading.
AdaptedMind | Ages 6 to 12 | $9.95 a month (approx £8.50/AU$17) | 1 month free
AdaptedMind keeps things really simple, with visually attractive math and reading challenges for kids. One quick look at the way that it's set out in 'grades' (rather than ages) will alert you that this is a US-based service. But the lessons here are universal, with straightforward number and literacy games in abundance - indeed, AdaptedMind boasts a staggering 300,000+ in total.
We like the way that the pretest helps gauge your child's levels of understanding, and that there are opportunities for assessment throughout. And because you only pay one month at a time (after that handy trial), you don't have to feel like you're committing any more than you really need to.
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Adam was formerly the Content Director of Subscriptions and Services at Future, meaning that he oversaw many of the articles TechRadar produces about antivirus software, VPN, TV streaming, broadband and mobile phone contracts - from buying guides and deals news, to industry interest pieces and reviews. Adam has now dusted off his keyboard to write articles for the likes of TechRadar, T3 and Tom's Guide.