Which websites are the best online learning sites to help maintain skills learned during the school year?

For some, summer is almost half over, for others…school will be starting soon. It is never too early or too late in the summer to review and strengthen skills learned in school this past year. It seems that over the summer weeks, kids let their brains take a vacation, too!

I see all too often kids may know their math facts or know how to read, but they don’t know how to analyze and synthesize information or understand the importance of financial literacy. Critical thinking skills, such as these, can be enhanced in many fun ways. Here are five of the best online learning sites that do just that with educational games, activities, and more!

Best Online Learning Sites for Kids – Free

Cyberchase on PBS Kids Go!

Vacation, camp, beach trips, and amusement parks are often part of a child’s summer break. But how can they keep from losing the math skills they developed during the school year? One of the best online learning sites is Cyberchase. This site for kids offers fun episodes, web games and hands-on activities and events and free, fun resources to strengthen children’s math skills over the summer.

Visit Cyberchase online at www.pbskidsgo.org/cyberchase with your child or grandchild…or on Facebook, www.facebook.com/cyberchase… to access sneak peeks at the new episodes, fan events, exclusive behind-the-scenes videos, photos and more related to the Cyberchase Summer Challenge. Cyberchase Summer Challenge gives kids opportunities to get points and earn rewards three ways: make games for others to play, play cyber trivia, and do fun activities at home. Watch Cyberchase on your local PBS Station and visit the website, too, for summer learning fun!

Reading is Fundamental – Reading Literacy

A wonderful, interactive site for fun summer learning and continued fun learning throughout the year has been created by Reading is Fundamental, a literacy non-profit. The RIF website is one of the best online learning sites for kids. It is developmentally age appropriate for babies starting at age 0, toddlers, and preschoolers.

On the RIF website, parents and grandparents can listen with your youngest children to lullabies, songs, nursery rhymes, and stories along with appropriate reading games and finger plays. Preschoolers can be guided as they interact in reading activities, singing, playing, doodling, and exploring. The Grown-ups section offers advice, additional reading activities, and featured articles supporting children’s literacy.

“Motivating children to read throughout the summer is essential to building lifelong readers,” says Carol H. Rasco, president and CEO of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF), the nation’s largest children’s literacy nonprofit. “And reading is the doorway to all other learning.”

At the end of the day, it all boils down to this: read. Read together, read separately, read aloud, read silently, read everywhere. Read signs, cereal boxes, advertising, comics, directions, magazines, too. It’s the surest way to make certain that your kids will start the school year off right. I love this site. I spend time on RIF.org with all of my grandkids each time they visit. We all enjoy it! The oldest grandchild (9) likes to help her younger sister (pre-k) and brother (toddler).

Thinkfinity by Verizon Foundation

Summer vacation is in full swing, but before you know it, it’s back to school time. Let me introduce you to Verizon Thinkfinity,Verizon Foundation’s nationally recognized free digital program in support of education and literacy.  Thinkfinity is now a supportive resource for teachers to help them find ways to use technology in the classroom. I’ve used this resourceful website for teachers with great success!

MyJobChart – Responsibility and Financial Literacy

Another of the best learning sites for kids is My Job Chart. It is a simple online chore chart system that helps to motivate children to do their chores as expected. It’s fun and it’s free for parents to set up, customize, and use with their kids! Motivation is positive with a point system that reinforces their accomplished responsibilities. MyJobChart.com aides in teaching children about financial responsibility and the value of the dollar, including how to budget, save their earnings, and experience the pride of being compensated for a job well done. There are other life’s lessons to be learned, such as cause and effect – what happens when one family member doesn’t do his chores…how are others affected?

This is how MyJobChart works:

  • Parents assign jobs for their child, from homework to house or yard work.
  • Kids then log into their chart to view what their tasks are for the day. They can also see completed tasks and rewards that they are aspiring for. Each task is assigned a certain number of points and once kids have completed their chores and acquired enough points, they can redeem them for rewards.
  • Photos of rewards (toys, ice cream, trips to the zoo or beach, etc.) can be uploaded to the website, providing visual motivation and parents also have the opportunity to leave inspiring messages for kids to read when they sign on. Once a reward is ready to be redeemed, parents are immediately notified by email or text message and they can in turn reply with positive messages on the child’s “post-it-note.”

MyJobChart.com also is a great resource in reinforcing skills such as sequencing, following directions, problem solving, negotiating, reading, and more. It can also be used with the next fun learning website.

ThreeJars – Kids saving, spending, and sharing

Financial literacy is being integrated into math curriculum throughout United States schools. ThreeJars is an ONLINE SYSTEM that teaches kids financial literacy firsthand. As one of the best online learning site for kids, it allows kids to earn, track and use their own money.  Here’s how it works: Parents set the allowance limit for each child, and come payday, the site adds the new money to their total. It automatically keeps track of how much is owed and what has been paid. What’s more, ThreeJars is a hands-on, real time experience for showing that money is a limited resource. And it goes beyond just cash for candy and clothes, by encouraging long-term saving and charitable giving. My oldest granddaughter turns 9 on July 30 – it will be a great birthday present that will last her a lifetime.

How do they learn spending responsibility? I love this! My kids were more careful with their spending when it was “their” money. On ThreeJars.com, with parent’s approval, kids withdraw cash from their personal ATM, or can buy gift cards from more than 30 of their favorite retailers (Amazon.com, AMC Theaters, American Eagle, Toys “R” Us, Walmart, iTunes, and more).  Saving is encouraged, too, with creative incentives…parents pay the interest only if it is actually earned. Sharing is also in the equation with opportunities to donate to charities kids learn about on ThreeJars.com.

When summer is over, don’t stop…continue with fun reading and math literacy activities together.

I’ll be adding more best online learning sites for kids in the coming months. These will help children improve their skills while having fun at the same time. The best online learning sites are ones that teach without children realizing they are learning, because they are enjoying what they are doing.