With the traditional school year ending soon, your kids are probably ready to take a break from schoolwork for the summer. Actually, the summer can be the perfect time to brush up on some skills or let your child grow in subjects they are particularly interested in learning more about. Families can take some tips from full-time homeschoolers on how to use the summer for educational purposes.

Fortunately for families, there are a number of completely free educational resources online. As a full-time homeschooling family, I have found that these free resources can be just as beneficial (if not more so) than some of the standard workbook type programs. Here is a list of my top 5 favorite free homeschooling resources for elementary students:

PBSKids.com

PBSKids.com is a fantastic site for fun and educational games. The site is definitely appealing to small children and easy to use. The games focus on a variety of topics from basic grammar, reading, and math skills to computer skills. The website features all the popular characters from PBS cartoons and is packaged in a way that encourage kids to learn while playing.

Along with educational games, the site has a full list of videos and programming. You can watch PBS Kids shows and snippets from the site and then play corresponding games. Martha Speaks is a favorite in our house.

Starfall

Starfall.com is a free public service company that helps teach children how to read with phonics. Starfall is a great alternative to learning for children and is designed specifically with preschool-2nd graders in mind. This program is also used by many homeschooling families for phonics curriculum as well as children with special needs.

The site is separated into sections: Learn to Read, Fun to Read, and I Can Already Read. This makes it easy to determine where to start with your child. According to Starfall creators: “Our method of instruction motivates children in an atmosphere of imagination and enthusiasm, provides opportunities for child-directed instruction, and supports English language learners and struggling readers learning alongside their peers.”

ABCya

ABCya.com is perfect for those kids who want to brush up on their computer skills while touching on core subjects like math and reading. The site is separated out by grade level and incorporates programs for those Kindergarten through 5th grade. Simply click your student’s grade level to begin. All of the activities were created – or approved – by certified school teachers. The games are free and are modeled from primary grade lessons and enhanced to provide an interactive way for children to learn.

Cookie

Cookie.com is another fantastic website dedicated to fun, colorful, and educational games that will hold your child’s attention. You can choose from a variety of subject areas and grade levels. Cookie also provides free printable exercises you can do with your child. Play the online games or print off some worksheets to take the lesson away from the computer.

Mother Nature Herself

The ultimate free learning resource is Mother Nature herself. What better way to learn than going out and doing? From insect life cycles to weather patterns, there are so many lessons that Mother Nature can provide. Setup some experiments or just let your child ask questions about the world around them. You can turn a day in the park into an educational opportunity by discussing the animals, plants, or even people you see.

Little minds are curious minds. Don’t let your child’s mind stop working just because it is summer. What fun ways do you incorporate learning into your child’s break?