When school first closed down in March and many of the afterschool activities we relied on turned virtual, I thought, “Ok, we're done. The last thing we need is a specific time and Zoom room to be on.”
Then when my daughter's dance class-turned-zoom-class petered out in May, with no final performance, and frankly no new bonds formed for her, I decided I didn't want to commit to any online classes because if an invite rolled in from a friend to go biking or even have a socially distanced sit around in the backyard, that seemed more important than saying, “I can't; I have a Zoom class.”
By early summer, I found that endless free time was hard to navigate. Having even one thing on the calendar gave the day a shape, and so I began my relationship with Outschool.com.
Disclosure: If you sign up for a class through our link, 510Families.com may earn a referral fee.
Outschool was already a rich resource used by homeschoolers before the pandemic, but this summer, we were all homeschoolers to some degree. It is a huge library of classes and a platform through which you sign up for them. Classes are delivered through Zoom and reasonably priced.
I was not looking for academic enrichment for my kids, but rather something they'd be truly motivated to engage with. I found some creative lettering classes for my daughter and signed her up. It cost $15 for the one-time class.
Classes range from one-time meetings to multi-day “camps” (though I am loathe to call anything a camp that doesn't take my child out of the house for most of the day).
Subject matters span preschool-friendly music time to high school-level SAT prep, often with a fun twist that would not be found in school. My freshman roommate Sarah signed her children up for a class about animal farts.
I did force upon my child a 1:1 Spanish conversation session, and she eventually said, “Gracias, pero no.” However, I overheard her explain to her aunt, a higher ed distance learning expert, how cool Outschool is, so I kept trying.
We landed on a flexibility class, taught three times per week by a gymnast/dancer type. It was perfect. It gave my daughter something to anchor her afternoons around. If she missed the class due to a family outing or, more likely, family forgetfulness, she could log in and do the class asynchronously.
Search Outschool.com by age to see some of the choices. Whether you are looking for fun (How to Draw Eyes, Noses, and Mouths, perhaps?) or something for your preschooler to do while your first grader has online school (ABC Detectives?) you can browse by age and time of day. I've seen a month's worth of classes priced at $45/month.
For older children, I really like the opportunity to nerd out on something they are passionate about. From LEGO masterclasses to Hogwarts Day School, there really is something for everyone.