Safely back to school checklist after coronavirus closures

Safely back to school checklist after coronavirus closures

Coronavirus lockdown measures have partially or fully closed schools for more than 90% of the world’s student population across 186 countries and territories, according to UNESCO

Thus far, Vietnam has done a phenomenal job to contain the virus.  And after 21 straight days of no domestically transmitted coronavirus infections, many schools across 63 provinces are starting to re-open to welcome millions of school children back to school after the longest Tet holiday in history.  However, reopening schools still somehow carries the public health risk of a viral resurgence, which makes parents and teachers understandably wary.  How can our education systems respond?  What should parents know about, and do, in this situation in order not to let our guard down, but also ensure our children have access to a healthy, safe, and enjoyable learning environment?

As many schools are strictly following instructions from the Ministry of Education and Training and Ministry of Health on practicing good hygiene: sterilize campuses, provide soap and antiseptic hand wash for students, leave windows open and minimize the use of air conditioners…. we want to remind parents of some key actions for COVID-19 prevention and control when sending your child back to school.

1.Know the latest facts 

Understand basic information about coronavirus disease (COVID-19), including its symptoms, complications, how it is transmitted and how to prevent transmission.  Stay informed about COVID-19 through reputable sources such as UNICEF and WHO and national health ministry advisories.  Be aware of fake information/myths that may circulate by word-of-mouth or online.  You can regularly check virus updates from the Vietnamese government site’s at or install this Vietnamese Health (Sức khỏe Việt Nam) application to access the immediate hotline, and review all the nearest medical centers if an emergency happens.

2. Be aware of the symptoms of COVID-19 (coughing, fever, shortness of breath) in your child. 

Seek medical advice by first calling your personal doctor/ nearest health facility and then take your child in, if advised.  Remember that symptoms of COVID-19 such as cough or fever can be similar to those of the flu, or the common cold, which are a lot more common.  If your child is sick, keep them home from school and notify the school of your child’s absence and symptoms.  Request reading and assignments so that students can continue learning while at home.  Explain to your child what is happening in simple words and reassure them that they are safe.

3. Keep children in school when healthy 

If your child isn’t displaying any symptoms such as a fever or cough, it’s best to keep them in school – unless a public health advisory or other relevant warning or official advice has been issued affecting your child’s school.  Instead of keeping children out of school, teach them good hand and respiratory hygiene practices for school and elsewhere, like frequent hand washing, wearing masks, covering a cough or sneeze with a flexed elbow or tissue, then throwing away the tissue into a closed bin, and not touching their eyes, mouth or nose if they haven’t properly washed their hands. 

4. Teach your kid good hygiene habits

Teaching children how to follow proper health and hygiene is extremely crucial and helps in keeping germs and diseases at bay.  Apparently, teachers and parents can not keep an eye on them 24/7, so the most useful approach for kids of any age is reminding them of things that are in their power to protect themselves from getting and spreading illnesses of all kinds.  This outbreak offers a great opportunity to teach your kids basic prevention practices:

  • Wash hands with soap and safe water frequently, especially before and after eating; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.  Always wash hands with soap and water, if their hands are visibly dirty.  For preschoolers, you can teach them to sing a song while washing hands to practice the recommended 20-second duration.  (Thanks to coronavirus, the time has come for many new songs to help us properly wash our hands, ask your kids to sing the “ABC song” twice while washing their hands, or do the duo dance of “Ghen Co Vy” – the viral video that helped our country go viral worldwide.)
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cough and sneeze into a tissue or elbow and avoid touching your face, eyes, mouth, and nose
  • Ensure that safe drinking water is available and toilets or latrines are clean and available at home 
  • Ensure waste is safely collected, stored and disposed of 
  • If your child brings food to school for lunch or snack, teach her not to leave any food uncovered and also keep the lids clean to avoid contracting bacteria.

5. Help children cope with the stress

COVID-19 brings with it feelings like anxiety, stress, and uncertainty — and they are felt especially strongly by children of all ages.  Children may respond to stress in different ways. Common responses include having difficulties sleeping, bedwetting, having pain in the stomach or head,  being anxious, withdrawn, angry, clingy or afraid to be left alone.  Respond to children’s reactions in a supportive way and explain to them that they are normal reactions to an abnormal situation. 

Listen to their concerns and take time to comfort them and give them affection, reassure them they’re safe and praise them frequently.  If possible, create opportunities for children to play and relax. (Steal some ideas from 6 fun indoor activities for kids during Coronavirus outbreak.)  Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible, especially before they go to sleep, or help create new ones in a new environment.  Provide age-appropriate facts about what has happened, explain what is going on, and give them clear examples of what they can do to help protect themselves and others from infection.

>> Check out some pointers for keeping kids calm and holding a panic-free conversation about coronavirus:

Share information about what could happen in a reassuring way.  For example, if your child is feeling sick and staying at home or the hospital, you could say, “You have to stay at home/at the hospital because it is safer for you and your friends.  I know it is hard (maybe scary or even boring) at times, but we need to follow the rules to keep ourselves and others safe. Things will go back to normal soon.”


☐ 1. Monitor your child’s health and keep them home from school if they are ill.
☐ 2. Teach and model good hygiene practices for your children.
☐ 3. Encourage your children to ask questions and express their feelings with you and their teachers. Remember that your child may have different reactions to stress; be patient and understanding.
☐ 4. Prevent stigma by using facts and reminding students to be considerate of one another.
☐ 5. Coordinate with the school to receive information and ask how you can support school safety efforts (though parent-teacher committees, etc.)

Having information and facts about COVID-19 will help diminish students’ fears and anxieties around the disease and support their ability to cope with any secondary impacts in their lives.  We hope that this guidance provides key messages and actual actionable items for engaging parents, caregivers, teachers and staff, community members, as well as children themselves in promoting safe and healthy schools. 


The impact of COVID-19: What to do as a parent, and what will happen in higher ed

The impact of COVID-19: What to do as a parent, and what will happen in higher ed

In these turbulent times, children’s schools are shutting down across the country. As I write this, roughly 40 million K–12 children are out of school in the United States, according to Education Week’s interactive map. That’s out of 51 million public school students and 5.8 million private school students. My current belief is that most schools will not reopen this school year.

Although I normally send out a monthly eblast about the future of education, to state the obvious, these aren’t normal times. Given the challenges we are all facing and the inquiries I’ve received from many of you asking what are we doing in the Kim-Horn household, what online resources are useful, and the like, here are some thoughts and resources that I hope prove helpful. I’ll send out more musings on the future of education at the end of the month as usual. 

Please treat these as ideas to guide, not direct definitively. Just as there is no one best way to educate a child, there is no one best course of action amidst this crisis. You’ll need to find the right way forward in your circumstance for your family. My wife, Tracy, and I have seen plenty of amazing ideas out there—that just aren’t right for our family given we have twin daughters who are five. I also readily acknowledge that we’re fortunate to have the lives we do and are able to make certain decisions that others might not be able to make. Bottom line? You do you and stick to it.

And I assure you that we’re making plenty of daily mistakes. We are all learning together—and we won’t stop. If you have other ideas and tips, reach out to me over Twitter @michaelbhorn. I’ll be sure to amplify productive conversations so we can all benefit.

The routine

We’re big believers in trying to have a consistent routine to give our children a rhythm to the day and a sense of security and stability that comes from having some certainty and control. We also try to alternate between activities that require our children to take an “in breath” and those that allow them to take an “out breath.” As we build a new routine, we’re figuring out ways to make sure that Tracy and I can do work while our daughters get what they need. 

It’s a work in progress, but our basic strategy is to take shifts with the children and make sure we have some overlapping times so we can be together as a family and as a couple. We’re trying not to be too hard on ourselves when we mess up—or when we have to do a bit more mindless screen time than we might otherwise do in a pinch.

Given that so many have inquired, here’s our children’s basic schedule (and yes, it’s a work in progress):

Activity Block
Wake-up routine (get dressed, journal, etc)
Eat breakfast + clean up
Walk our dog
Family individual reading time (20 min)
Digital learning time (Could be circle time with school, a program, Facetime, etc. 20-30 min)
Morning activity: 3 days a week we are outdoors; 3 days a week they do STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) projects and the like
Clean up, help make lunch, eat, clean up
Quiet hour (we are all by ourselves with choice around what we do) + 15 minutes for each child to practice piano or have a lesson
Free time (Besides play, opportunities for STEAM challenges or projects, food prep, gardening, bike riding, writing a daily letter and addressing it, etc.)
Dinner, clean up, nightly routine

A key pillar of our schedule is that our children are going to be a more integral part of our household work with the hope that that helps us have the time we need to work and invest in our own well being. As my late mentor Clay Christensen wrote in How Will You Measure Your Life, when he was growing up:

“We had gardens and fruit trees; we grew a lot of what we ate…. The idea that one might hire someone else to mow the lawn and shovel the snow at your home—it just never happened. There was so much work going on that children essentially worked for their parents. Step by step, over the past fifty years, it has become cheaper and easier to outsource this work to professionals. Now the only work being done in many of our homes is a periodic cleanup of the mess that we make. In the absence of work, we’ve created a generation of parents who selflessly devote themselves to providing their children with enriching experiences.”

Given the current circumstances, although we aren’t reverting fully to how Clay grew up, we are reversing some of today’s parenting culture out of necessity. We also know that we enjoy many blessings that enable us to do things that others can’t.

I personally found this article by my friend Mike Goldstein, an educator who founded the Match charter schools in Boston and has worked in a wide range of educational contexts, incredibly helpful: “Coronavirus closing your kid’s school? One parent’s plan for Daddy School.” It contains his routine plus resources. This article in EdSurge, “How to Keep School Rhythm and Routines for Young Children at Home,” is also one we will be returning to a lot, as it has great ideas for activities. Finally, here are some tips from Prepared Parents, along with a way to follow their advice on Instagram and Facebook.

Leveraging a self-directed learning plan and children’s natural curiosity makes a lot of sense to me.

Online resources 

Now I know I’m not a parenting expert. Trust my wife on that one. Most of the questions coming to me have been about online-learning resources. So, here are a few of what I’ve found to be useful. Everything here is currently free.

– NewSchools Venture Fund: They compiled a Google spreadsheet here filled with stellar resources. Want math curriculum? They’ve got you covered, with links on providers ranging from ST Math to Zearn. Reading and writing on your mind? They have resources like Newsela and Quill. They have history, science, and more. Check it out. What’s great is it’s not overwhelming, and everything on it has a strong reputation.

– Khan Academy: They’ve set up a great help desk for how Khan Academy can be used during school closures here, and you can view their suggested daily routines by grade level here

– Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy: The Foundation has created a wonderful education toolkit for at-home learning filled with free resources that can continue to help children build literacy skills while at home. From read-aloud books to reading games, there’s a lot you have at your disposal.

The impact on colleges and universities—and education more generally

With campuses shutting down, what’s the impact of the COVID-19 disease likely to be on colleges across the country? Jeff Selingo and I turned to someone on our Future U podcast who has deep expertise with this question—Scott Cowen, who led Tulane University in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. His big advice centered around maintaining 3 things:

  1. Communication
  2. Transparency
  3. Community 

Hear it and let us know your thoughts.

We then followed up in our next Future U episode with an interview of two people on the front lines of helping colleges transition to “remote learning.” We talked to the provost of West Chester University, a regional public university in Pennsylvania, and a faculty member at Ithaca College, a private college in New York, about what it’s really like to turn a residential campus into a virtual one overnight.

This piece at WGBH, “‘Organized Chaos’: Many Mass. Colleges Unprepared For Transition To Online Teaching,” offers some great color on what this transition to remote learning looks like as well, with a sense of the challenges and opportunities everyone from schools of music to community colleges are facing.

So with colleges all moving to “remote” and online learning, will this crisis turn out to be a “black swan” moment for higher education to the benefit of online learning, as Goldie Blumenstyk argues at the Chronicle for Higher Education?

I think it depends upon the duration of this moment, but my initial reaction was to be skeptical. With professors hastily moving courses online, I just don’t think the experiences will be all that compelling—particularly if the interruption is temporary. You can read more at Education Next in “Covid-19 Boost to Online Learning May Backfire.”

Or check out a podcast I did for Education Next on the topic here where we dive into not just the implications for online learning in higher education, but also K–12 schools and how districts might think of equity concerns and the like.

You can also read a fuller set of perspectives that Inside Higher Ed published on the topic, “Will Shift to Remote Teaching Be Boon or Bane for Online Learning?” In my contribution, I also offered four tips to faculty members moving their courses online. One of the tips is to remember that online learning isn’t about putting the faculty member front and center like massive open online courses (MOOCs) did.

Amidst some of my concerns, however, there are big bright spots. Everest Education, an after-school company in Vietnam, has been doing a lot of R&D on online learning for some time. With the shutdown of the nation’s schools and after-school programs, they have rolled their active online platform and pedagogy out to the country—which could be a big benefit to families and the nation. Have a read—“Amidst COVID-19’s Spread, Hope For Education Innovation Glimmers In Vietnam”—on Forbes.

I hope that, during these troubled times, that story brightens your day and gives you some hope. Even as we practice “physical distancing,” let’s remember to keep our social solidarity strong.

My best wishes,



5 Ways Keep Your Kids Learning When They’re Stuck at Home

5 Ways Keep Your Kids Learning When They’re Stuck at Home

Since the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, a pandemic, we know that many parents have been wondering how we’ll manage to keep our kids occupied at home for a week or more — without access to amusement parks, play spaces, local libraries and play dates.  If you’re lucky, you can stay home with them — while working from home and juggling conference calls at the same time.  But if you can’t, hopefully you can find help or set up a system to keep in touch with your kids throughout the day while they’re home alone.

In this article, we provide parents with a bunch of ideas for how to keep our kids busy, entertained, and learning while they’re home.  All the way at the bottom, there are plenty of resources so you can pick and choose what works for you and your family. We hope this helps ease the burden of this confusing time. 

Quick tips to keep your kids learning

Manage your expectations. Your kids will not be learning at the same pace or breadth as a usual school day. Figure two to three hours a day to start. Don’t stress too much about this.

Make time for breaks and fun. All of us are anxious as we manage this new reality, so take any opportunity to relax and laugh together. It will make the hard stuff easier.

Set a schedule. Get everyone on the same page so you don’t have to nag. Routines can be comforting for everyone.

Review schools’ plans. In most cases, schools will have a very specific education plan during closures. Use their instructions as a guide for setting up your schedule.

5 ways to keep your child academically engaged when stuck at home

#1. Establish a daily routine

A day or two at home might seem like a breeze, but longer stretches may start to get a little challenging.   If your kids are away from school or aren’t participating in their normal activities, creating a daily routine will help them feel as normal as possible.  Set a daily wake-up time and then block out the day for different sorts of activities like reading, doing house chores, school work, creative play or crafts…  Parents should come up with a daily schedule that you hang on the wall for the kids to see. There should be some sort of schedule just like there is at school to keep kids on track with routine and to keep them from falling into too much screen time.  If you have a co-parent or another adult living in your home, try setting up a shift schedule so you both get some uninterrupted work time and downtime during the day. While some families prefer to switch on and off by the hour, others prefer designating one parent in charge of mornings and the other in charge of afternoons.

#2. Find math problems in everyday life

If your children are unlikely to spend the day at a desk on their homework, a useful way of engaging them in their learning is by doing real-time interactive activities.  Elena Karas, a mother and writer in Monrovia, California, recommends sending kids around the house and having them measure everything in a given size.  Each day of the week have them measure everything in the house that is of a particular size — like everything that is one inch long. The next day add an inch and have them find everything that’s two inches long. Increase the size incrementally for each day they are home.

Lori Rosales, a mother of three and educator for Los Angeles Unified School District through UCLA’s math project has tips for finding math everywhere in the house.  She charges her three children to count everything in her home.  She has the little ones count things one-by-one, but has older, elementary-aged children put items in groups to count.  She also has them come up with word problems based on sharing. For example, “If you and your two brothers have 36 mini-figures and you share them equally how many will each get?”  Rosales also recommends baking with your child and talking with them about fractions.  There are a ton of fun, and easy ways to teach your kids math at home.  We have put together a long list of super fun math activities for your kids to help them develop a strong foundation in understanding math, and enhance their interest in learning.
>> Read more at:
Playful Math activities for your primary kids.

#3. Set up reading time

Regular reading is a stepping stone to better writing and helps kids’ strengthen their writing skills. It helps expand children’s vocabulary and show them different ways of using words. Therefore, make sure you’re reading together every day and encouraging their love of reading as they grow.  If your kid has a book they’re reading in English class, make some progress on that. If not, choose one for fun. Introduce children to different genres (types of literature), authors, and writing styles. 

Choose books with wonderful language, vocabulary, stories, and information… Parents can refer to our old blog post to learn how to choose a just right book for your child’s reading level.

Since we can’t leave the house given this situation, parents can consider getting e-books so that your kids can access them on their Kindle, tablet, or computer. These days, kids love playing on computers and smart phones, so you may as well put that play to good use and give them some apps that are going to help to improve their reading skills.  Below are some great reading apps you can download to help your kids become better readers.

#4. Get artsy

Parents often lament that there isn’t enough art in schools.  Take this time to focus on art and see where your child’s creativity takes them.  YouTube has an endless amount of instructional content, including music lessons, DIY creators, painting, and more.  You can use YouTube tutorials to teach your child how to draw complex characters and animals. All you need to do is just go to YouTube and type something like ‘how to draw a king cobra,’ then your kid will enjoy drawing by herself.  This usually kills 30 minutes to an hour. Some parents also plan to use musical learning apps to help their child hone piano-playing skills. 

If you’d like to keep the kids offline, bring out the pens and paper!  There are terrific process-art handbooks for parents and kids available as well as thematic activity books that can really challenge the imagination and build narrative story-telling skills, or you can find books that help them through the step-by-step process of drawing their favorite characters.  It doesn’t take a lot of special materials for kids to have everything they need to get building.

To get them started, fill a basket or box with:

  • craft glue
  • empty tissue boxes or shoe boxes
  • toilet paper rolls or paper towel rolls
  • scrap wood
  • popsicle sticks
  • pipe cleaners
  • other household finds

Task your kids with building a city, a town, or something from their own imagination!

#5.  Use the internet to your advantage

While your children’s schools may have online options for learning, here are some great learning resources suggested by our teachers. Tony Ngo, our Chairman and Co-founder, said that his son was so into Prodigy Math.  “It’s like an online fantasy world where you win quests by doing math problems,” he said.  Parents see the results and can assess their children in specific areas without them even realizing they are being tested.  “Kids can play with their friends, and it’s safe because an adult makes the “world” and only invites specific people. My kids love it.” 

At Everest Education, we love using NewsELA in our English Language Arts to help students practice on reading and writing skills. NewsELA provides a wide range of articles on current events and various topics that can be searched by grade level. We also love Flocabulary, which teaches key ideas on various topics such as math, English, social studies, and puts them to song for better memorization and understanding. Kids really get engaged with these songs, and activities are included with the lessons.

To give you some options, we have compiled two lists of some useful Math and English learning websites, based on recommendations of our teachers to help students self-study and practice Math and English, prepare for examinations such as SAT, ICGSE, IB … or simply have a fun time learning at home.

Being faced with a pandemic is no joke, but if home-school parents can do it every day, most of us can hopefully pull this off—and keep our kids academically on track—for a few weeks.  



7 best Youtube channels for kids of all ages!

7 best Youtube channels for kids of all ages!

Subscribe to these YouTube channels to ensure you always know your kid is watching safe, appropriate and high-quality videos online.

YouTube is a free, amazing resource for children to learn everything, from baking, singing and unboxings to nature, crafts and cartoons, and of course, English!  Unfortunately, there’s a bunch of awful stuff that may happen on YouTube, everything from pedophile-approved videos of preteens to videos that promote self-harm. Of course, there are a few steps you should take before letting your little one loose on the Internet, like setting your parental controls and downloading a child-focused YouTube app for kids.  (Check out our top internet safety advice for your kids.) With millions of channels available on YouTube, it’s important to set up the appropriate parental safeguards, filters and best practices to protect your kids.  But it’s equally important to choose the best channels and content for them to watch. So what are the best channels?  In this article, we compile a list of 7 great Youtube channels and playlists for kids that parents will love, based on recommendations from parents, educators and English teachers around the world.  Best of all: All of these channels are available on YouTube Kids.

For Toddlers

1. Super Simple Songs

There is a reason that this YouTube channel has racked up millions of views.  Super Simple Songs is a collection of original kids songs and classic nursery rhymes made simple for young learners.  Combining captivating animation and puppetry with delightful music that kids love to sing along to, Super Simple Songs makes learning simple and fun!  These animated videos are designed perfectly to help either keep your kid occupied with an afternoon of sing-alongs or sending them off to sleep with a lullaby like “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. 

Nursery rhymes and children’s songs are just the beginning of what Super Simple Songs has to offer.  You’ll also find a range of educational shows and videos featuring original music and animation. Smiley Little Monsters teaches kids about eating healthy and sharing, while the adorable animals of the Treetop Family shows kids the wonders of the animal world.

Each video is just three to four minutes long, so they are very bite-sized. Kids will want to watch their favorites again and again, so be prepared to bookmark their favorites

2. Sesame Street

“Sesame Street” has long been used by the Japanese as a way to study English.  Nearly 50 years strong, Sesame Street is a staple of children’s programming and, happily, its essence carries over to its YouTube channel too. The gang’s all here—Elmo, Big Bird, Abby, Oscar, Snuffy, Cookie, Bert & Ernie and all their famous friends—with new videos uploaded daily to teach kids many of the life lessons they’ll need, like Robin Williams helping the Two-Headed Monster understand conflict or Mark Ruffalo and Murray learning about empathy. 

“Sesame Street” has been created to help children learn English in a fun and creative way.  Each episode teaches expressions used in everyday conversation (e.g., “Good night” and “What’s this?”) as well as useful vocabulary. The show also introduces phrases and expressions that elicit a response, such as “Look at me” or “Put on your coat.” Simple grammar is taught, along with the alphabet and numbers from one to 20.

The curriculum uses themes that are familiar and interesting to children, including families, friends, pets, toys, food and weather.  “Sesame Street” is now broadcasting in 148 countries with 20 international co-productions to suit local languages, customs and educational needs. 

For Elementary students

3. Flocabulary

Flocabulary is a learning program for all grades that uses educational hip-hop music to engage students and increase achievement across the curriculum. Founded in 2004 by Blake Harrison and Alex Rappaport, Flocabulary takes a nontraditional approach to teaching vocabulary, math, science and other subjects by integrating content into recorded raps.  Flocabulary’s videos, which are organized by subject, use educational hip-hop songs and visual aids to teach specific lessons, like how to divide fractions. These lessons are designed to both introduce and review important topics, while also helping students to draw connections between different subjects.

Each video comes with a series of interactive activities intended to improve students’ retention of the lesson.  Specifically, lessons include fill in the blank exercises, opportunities for students to write their own educational songs, and Common Core aligned activities and games.  Flocabulary’s vocabulary program also includes assessment resources, which can be used to determine subject mastery. With all those amazing features, Flocabulary is definitely a creative teaching tool to captivate students, encourage them to think out of the box, and inspire them to create their own rhymes.

4. CoolSchool

“Cool School is the school of every kid’s dreams, because it’s the COOLEST school ever!”.  This wide-ranging Youtube channel has an outstanding collection of story-telling videos that teachers and parents can put to good use.  Children can watch classic stories like Cinderella and Rapunzel, or even play “Spot the difference” on this channel. CoolSchool turns reading into an enjoyable journey that your kids will love to take on.  Filled with a collection of digital books featuring read-along stories broken into easy reading chapters, children will love learning to read with their favorite Cool School friend, Ms. Booksy!  Storyteller extraordinaire Ms. Booksy guides kids on literature adventures they will never forget. The videos are over thirty minutes in many cases, and kids get a great treatment of popular stories.

For middle and high school students

5. TED-Ed

Probably best suited to kids at the top end of the school-aged range (9+), TED-Ed is an amazing resource for young thinkers in your family.  As the name suggests, TED-Ed is the youth and education arm of the TED foundation. The original animated videos on the site are creative collaborations between TED-involved experts and speakers, TED Fellows and various educators, producers and directors. 

The videos are beautifully animated and present kids and adults alike with thoughtful topics, riddles and tutorials that are sure to bake your noodle.  Titles like “What’s So Great About the Great Lakes?” “How High Can You Count On Your Fingers?” and “Why Doesn’t Anything Stick to Teflon?” are just the tip of the iceberg.

Now your kids can enjoy the smart, informative, big thinking joys of TED Talks too.  The TED foundation has created these educational editions of their highly popular lectures.  Each video is born out of a collaboration between experts in various fields and creative animators who create visuals that are just as captivating as the content.  They even take submissions for ideas if you have a particularly insightful kid. 


6. National Geographic Kids

National Geographic Kids is the online component to National Geographic Kids magazine. Among its educational games, kid-friendly information, and great footage, the site has many cool videos of awesome animals, fun science and colorful travel destinations.  They don’t just limit themselves to the exotic either, there are plenty of programs that explore the wonders in your own backyard and even your own house pet, like one episode called “How to Speak Cat.”  

There’s lots to explore on this animal- and geography-based site, thanks to its diverse array of activities.  Younger kids should enjoy playing the games, which include clear instructions and multiple difficulty levels, and they often reinforce memory, logic, and other skills.  The site’s videos are high-quality productions, and with many being only about a minute long, they’re perfectly timed for even the shortest of attention spans. National Geographic Kids have even created playlists depending on your kid’s interests so that they can binge-watch creature captures.

7. Brightstorm

Brightstorm is an online learning platform that offers a wealth of subject-specific videos keyed to high school level classes.  The channel provides short video lessons on various subjects that can complement and cement what your kid is learning in class. The lessons, which are offered in English, math, science, and test prep, are taught by seasoned teachers, who break the content into small pieces so kids don’t get overwhelmed.  The videos are white-board driven lessons taught at the high school level.

They feature real teachers in classroom-like settings.  The topics are explained clearly and concisely, and most are about five minutes in length.  Their English grammar and writing sections, together with their SAT and ACT prep sections that cover language arts topics, number past a few dozen videos.  With great quality video and well-taught lessons, this channel will give your teens the boost they need while staying at home.


Should my child take online courses? Pros and Cons of Studying Online

Should my child take online courses? Pros and Cons of Studying Online

As of this writing, the coronavirus has emerged and escalated in many countries around the world.  Students are told to keep staying at home, which makes this “Tet holiday” the longest Tet in history.  When the coronavirus keeps your child inside, shifting from physical classrooms to online learning seems to be the only and most effective education alternative to help kids keep on learning.

However, speaking of online learning, some parents still hesitate to allow kids to step into an online environment.  Distance education can be a highly effective alternative method of education for the students who are matured, self-disciplined and motivated, but it is an inappropriate learning environment for more dependent learners and some may have difficulty assuming responsibilities required by the online courses.

Studying online might not be the best choice for every student, but understanding its advantages and drawbacks can help you decide if distance learning is right for your child. 

In this article, we will take you through some advantages and disadvantages of distance education before you decide if you want to sign up an online course for your kids.

Advantages of online classes

There are quite a few advantages with online classes that are worth your consideration.  Here are some of the top benefits identified by online students.

Increase flexibility

One of the biggest advantages of online classes is the increase in flexibility.  Students can study wherever they want to, on any devices. This does not mean that the workload is less for a student studying online, only that they have more flexibility in when, how and where they study.  Your child does not need to be stuck in a classroom, instead, she can go study in the garden, on the living room couch or in the comfort of her own bed. Since everything is available online, accessing class materials and submitting work is very convenient.  Exactly when and where this takes place is up to the student, as long as assignment due dates are met. This flexibility is why online education is very popular with older students who have other commitments. Younger students better take online courses that have live teachers at a given time.

More convenient

This one doesn’t need much of an explanation. Online learning programs do not require parents to drive their kids to a particular location.  They can study and improve their skills at home and at their own leisure. This way parents too can get back to their busy schedule, very well knowing that their kid is getting the required personalized support they need.  On the other hand, kids also feel more in control of the process and in charge of their education. This is the most appealing benefit of online education, without any commute or wasting time travel to schools, especially in this sensitive outbreak period – kids have no choice but to stay inside.

Ease of Access

An online class levels the playing field when it comes to students from different geographical regions having access to a particular course.  Unlike in a physical classroom, students don’t have to live in big cities to gain access to quality education. Now the location of your child doesn’t matter and thus doesn’t interfere with her chances of pursuing a particular subject.   All your child needs to study online is a device with internet access. With an internet connection, there are no geographical barriers. Distance learning enables children across the country to join any courses they want, with professional instructors.  All of the study materials, lectures and assignments can be sent via email or some kind of file transfer system.

Allows personalized learning at multiple levels

Online learning can accommodate a wide range of learning styles and use a variety of methods geared to different learners.  With an online learning model, students move through subjects at their own pace, and can sometimes customize learning with different modes of media.  Students in traditional classrooms typically do not receive the personalized attention they get in an online class. Due to the increased time with their instructors, students develop better problem-solving and communication skills.  

The most advanced online learning tools provide ongoing, real-time assessment of students’ progress. They can tailor the learning experience and provide progress feedback. Regular assessment is critical to keeping a student challenged at just the right level – not overwhelmed by material that’s too advanced or bored by topics that the child already knows.


Less intimidating

Many students in classroom environments aren’t comfortable speaking in public.  In a physical classroom setting, asking a question or revealing that your child is unable to grasp a concept in class can be quite embarrassing for many students.  Distance education can somehow reduce that stress. In an online environment, it can be much easier to share thoughts with others. Shy students do not have to worry about being penalized for not speaking up.  Studying on their own at their comfort place lessens this type of stress and can bring better results in the end. Reports suggest that online learning programs have proven to help kids build their confidence.  This increased confidence does not only help students through their academic year, but also helps them to perform well in all aspects of their life. Hence, if your child is a little bit shy and reserved, an online course will work well for her. 

Enhance independent skills and Internet proficiency

Through independent learning, your child will learn about self-reliance and confidence – the essential skills for a lifetime of learning. More importantly, they are learning to acquire the skills with cutting-edge technology and diverse methods.  Online skills like accessing information, communication, and collaboration are necessary for learning and succeeding, not just in school, but in life. This will hopefully accelerate modernization of the education system, and also increase their capacity and abilities to face new challenges in a rapidly changing world.

Disadvantages of online classes

While there’s plenty to like about taking online courses, that doesn’t mean they’ve reached a state of perfection.  Here are a few of the potential disadvantages of online classes your kids may encounter.

Lack of peer interaction

One of the biggest disadvantages of online courses is missing out on the social element of going to class.  It’s not ideal for students, especially little ones, to sit alone with their computer throughout the entire session.  Online students have limited interaction with instructors and may have to wait for hours for reply to questions. Interaction with classmates in discussions and hands-on projects are critical, especially for younger children.  Although many online classes encourage collaboration through group activities and projects, students may feel isolated from their peers when not sharing the same physical space.   

Complicated technology

Overdependence on technology can be a major drawback in long distance learning, especially when the learning takes place in an online environment.  Any malfunctioning software or hardware can bring an ongoing class to a standstill and interrupt the learning process. Poor internet performance can also lead to negative impacts on an online class’ effectiveness.  Similarly, if a student is not computer and tech savvy, her learning experience can be dissatisfying.

Requires students to exercise self-discipline

Despite being convenient, online learning programs require kids to be self-starters.  Even though you study at your own pace and time, there are deadlines to be met. Some amount of self-motivation, responsibility and time management skills too are a part of the package.  Online courses that have deadlines for assignments and tests can put unnecessary pressure on students and end up adversely impacting students’ time management and organization skills.  

Requires extensive parent commitment

Staying motivated and keeping up with homework and assignments may prove more difficult for online students than for those attending traditional classes.  Younger children, in particular, may have trouble with the accountability and self-motivation required, and therefore, it may need parent involvement to make sure their online experience goes well.  If your child is at primary level or even lower, parents should stay involved in her online lessons, at least in the first few lessons, to make sure she stays focused, as well as keep her safe in the online world

Introduce your kid to learning online

As a matter of fact, there are advantages and disadvantages to every type of learning environment.  Online programs aren’t always perfect for everyone, but they can make learning more accessible for many students.  Online learning, at its best, allows students to use technology they’re already familiar with to better engage with learning. 


As we continue to monitor the situation for our students in the Everest community during this COVID-19 outbreak, we understand that the situation for many can be very difficult at present and wish to offer our support. To ignite the trend of #keeponlearning attitude, Everest Education is now offering 1-month free online courses for Math, English and IELTS programs. Through this, we hope to encourage students and families to keep studying, to keep striving for knowledge, and do not let viruses stop your child from learning. To explore what is an online class like at Everest, you can take a look at the video below: 

And sign up for our free classes at:

7 best movies for young kids to improve English at home

7 best movies for young kids to improve English at home

Watching English movies is a great way for your child to improve English while enjoying stories and music!  Some parents might associate television programming with “brain drain,” but with the right show, it doesn’t have to be.

Movies are a way to see the English language being used, without needing to find native speakers near us.  We can stop, go back and repeat any part as much as we want. In movies, your child will hear natural pronunciation, everyday vocabulary, spoken grammar, common idioms, slang, and be exposed to various accents.  Even better, she will learn these from interesting and emotional stories. And because there are countless movies based on an infinite amount of things, you can use them to introduce or spark discussions about a certain topic, be it a historical event, a time period or the culture of a foreign country.  At Everest Education, we love using English movies as a great teaching tool in our classrooms!

1. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

(1971 Movie – 100 min) and (2005 Movie – 115 min)
(Book by Roald Dahl)

What is it: The story is about Charlie Bucket, a hardworking and lovable boy from a low-income family that lives near the famous Willy Wonka chocolate factory.  For reasons unknown, the factory has been shut down for years. And then one day, to everyone’s surprise, Willy Wonka announces the reopening of the factory and invites five children who win a golden ticket as guests to the factory.  Charlie is one of the five children who wins a free one-day tour inside the chocolate factory. This movie is based on Roald Dahl’s book ‘Charlie & The Chocolate Factory’.

Why it’s great: Based on Roald Dahl’s popular book, the movie charmed audiences everywhere with its great portrayal of the characters, as well as creating a world that allowed the viewers to be fully immersed.  Dahl’s writing is clear and highly accessible to children, and his books remain beloved even decades later. In terms of vocabulary, this is certainly more complicated than Dr. Seuss’ books, but frequent illustrations help make it clearer.  Also, even though students may have difficulties with certain words, this can be a good introduction to reading for gist and understanding unknown vocabulary from context. Parents should emphasize that they need not understand every single word, as long as they understand the general idea.

The importance and spirit of honesty is the cornerstone of the movie.  When Charlie wins the golden ticket to enter Willie Wonka’s chocolate factory, he has every chance to leak the secrets of the factory and let go of his poverty.  But he stays honest and true and wins the grand prize as a result of it. As kids grow up, teaching them the importance of honesty and the importance of truth can be quite difficult, but a movie like this will teach them everything.

Suitable age: Your child needs to be at least 8-years-old to understand the film clearly.

2. Back to the Future

(1985 Movie – 116 min)

What is it: “Back to the Future” is about 17-year-old Marty McFly, who is incidentally sent 30 years back into the past, through the time-traveling machine invented by a scientist. The movie is about how he finds his way back to the past and encourages his teenage parents to meet and fall in love, while convincing the scientist of his invention in the future.

Why it’s great:  This is an action-packed science fiction movie which makes a great addition to a child’s English learning.  The movie may be hard for younger children to understand, but is good for elementary school and junior high school students.  The conversation is simple and the characters speak with a native English language accent.

Children who dislike studying will often pay attention to a movie if they like the story and characters.  It is a good idea to watch the movie in subtitles first, so that they can understand the story. The story is inspiring and entertaining and shows a teenager’s battle against time to preserve his future without disturbing the past.  “Back to the Future” also won the Sound Effects Editing award in the 1986 Oscar.

Suitable age: 10 years old and above

3. Spellbound

(2002 Movie – 97 min)

What is it: Eight dedicated young Americans vie for the title of National Spelling Bee champion in this film, which brings the realities of academic competition into focus. 

Why it’s great: This entertaining documentary is an inspiration for everyone and it’s actually quite riveting.  Your kids can’t help but root for all eight finalists while following them as they rise through the ranks of spellers.  It’s surprisingly competitive and the kids are beyond determined to do their best and be the best. This story offers messages about hard work, sportsmanship and the sacrifice and rewards involved in pursuing dreams.  As a bonus, your kid will enhance her vocabulary and learn to spell some incredibly challenging words after watching “Spellbound”. And she’ll see, spelling is cool!

Suitable age: 8 years old and above

4. Toy Story

(1995 Movie – 81 min),  (1999 Movie – 92 min), (2010 Movie – 103 min), (2019 Movie – 100 min)

What is it: One of the greatest animated educational movies for kids, Toy Story, which is popular with boys, is another good movie choice for learning English.  This is a series of animated movies, about the “secret life of toys’ when people are not around. Every toy is from a different background, so you can pick up many different kinds of phrases related to space, cowboys, dinosaurs, soldiers, fairy tales and much more. With so many different toys playing characters, most children are guaranteed to be glued to the screen.

Why it’s great: We recommend the movie for children who have started to learn English.  While all four Toy Story movies are great, the second movie has its special place in the trilogy.  It very smartly explains the concepts of loyalty and friendship, by expanding on the meaning of family.  Kids will have a great time in understanding why ‘Woody’ finds all the old toys to be his family, even when he belongs to a different set and could lead a better life with them.  And the friendship that Buzz and Woody share also teaches the importance of friendship.

Suitable Age: Kids from five-years-old or even preschoolers can enjoy the film.

5. Lion King

(1994 Movie – 88 min) 

What is it: The story is about a lion cub named Simba, who is next-in-line to be king after his father, King Mufasa.  However, his envious uncle Scar conspires a plot to kill both the father and son to take over the kingdom. 

Unfortunately, Mufasa gets killed, while Simba manages to escape.  Feeling responsible for his father’s death, he flees from the kingdom. But, as he reaches adulthood, he finds out about the conspiracy and sets out on a journey to reclaim the kingdom from Scar.

Why it’s great: There’s a reason why this film was worthy of an Academy Award.  It is one of the top educational movies for kids to learn about honor and responsibility.  It also gives out a strong message that no matter how hard the journey, one can still find a way back to the destination.  Simba is a character that kids can instantly fall in love with. Kids get to see him grow up, face troubles, and return back to claim what’s rightfully his.  It can teach the importance of love and friendship and show that it has no boundaries. Finally, it also lets children get comfortable with facing their worst fears and win in the end.

Suitable Age: Although young kids will love the film, kids who are aged eight and above will understand it better.

6. How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

(1966 Movie) (2000 Movie) (Book by Dr. Seuss)

What is it: In this live-action adaptation of the beloved children’s tale by Dr. Seuss, the reclusive green Grinch decides to ruin Christmas for the cheery citizens of Whoville.  

Reluctantly joined by his hapless dog, Max, the Grinch comes down from his mountaintop home and sneaks into town to swipe everything holiday-related from the Whos. However, the bitter grump finds a hitch in his plans when he encounters the endearing Cindy Lou Who, a six-year-old girl who believes in the spirit of the festival.

Why it’s great: Dr. Seuss’ books and silly rhymes have entertained children for decades.  It’s hard to go wrong with Dr. Seuss, especially when working with kids or beginners.  The language Seuss used may indeed throw in some invented words, with fantastical and features characters that are out of this world, makes for great stories.  And speaking of the language, the rhymes and rhythm of the story are fun and can help students learn pronunciation.

Suitable Age: 8 years old and above

7. Harry Potter

Yes, of course, Harry Potter!

What is it: The movies are about Harry Potter, a wizard, and all of his magical adventures.  The Harry Potter films are a must-see for anyone, not just your kids, anyone who is learning English! All of the main characters go to a magic school called Hogwarts.  

The wizarding world of Harry Potter has its own animals and history, and it uses language from basic English to magical words made up by author J.K. Rowling. For example, ‘muggle’, which is an insult meaning ‘someone who cannot perform magic’.  There are eight Harry Potter films which are based on the seven books by J.K. Rowling, but it is best to start with the first (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone).

Why it’s great:  Harry Potter is always on top of useful films to learn English as a family as often children and adults alike can appreciate the story. It’s interesting for everyone as it has magic, action, suspense and romance.  Harry Potter philosophy has lots to teach kids. More than magic, there’s real life wisdom in the books. A recent study, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, found that J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter is helping our children to understand why there’s no need for prejudice in this world.  The research was divided into three separate studies, which determined that kids who read Harry Potter were more tolerant than those who hadn’t become engrossed in the Hogwarts adventures.

Suitable Age: 8 years old and above

Parting words

A child’s development does not depend on schooling and books alone, playtime and movies help in his development too. Fun educational movies can help in the overall development of the child as these movies render important life lessons that cannot be taught through books.  Good movies can impart great moral lessons to children, while giving their language skill a boost. So next time, do not stop your child from watching movies, but choose the ones that are worth their time!