Over the last few months, we’ve shared some informative posts to help the newbies among us succeed more with homeschooling — or more accurately, helping us to guide our kids through the at-home learning they’re getting from their schools. So much has happened since then! (Doesn’t it feel like years?)

One silver lining we’ve all seen: Getting to know our kids a little better. Or a lot better. Especially our teens.

We’re seeing how they work, where they thrive, where they need help, and how well they’re doing with important non-acedemic skills like independence and self-direction.

But now, just when lots of them are getting into the swing of distance learning, summer is creeping up. And that may look a whole lot different for us all this year, too.


We’ve been taking all the help we can get as parents, not only to help keep our kids’ learning going, but to keep them engaged and interested, and to keep them working on their own, without us needing to nag or plead or check in every four seconds.

So right in time, we’re so grateful for our newest sponsor, Destinations Career Academy. It’s a career-readiness education provider powered by K12 — a company with two decades of experience in online learning. And right now, they’re offering some incredible tuition–free online courses to help support the millions of students who have been impacted by COVID-19 school closures.


3 free online courses for teens from K12 Destinations Career Academy (sponsored)

As of this week, some states still don’t know whether they’ll be able to reopen in September, or what the fall will look like. Camps are waiting for guidance, and so are traditional summer schools.

It’s confusing. And it’s impacting tens of millions of kids — not to mention tens of millions of parents

So we’re pleased to share some of the tuition-free options that Destinations Career Academy is offering right now to help out during the crisis, and why we think they’re worth a look. Not just to help support our kids’ educations and to keep them on track academically, but to provide some educational structure and guidance so they can continue grow as young adults, and to work in a self-directed way.


Tuition-Free Online Courses for Teens Right Now


1. For Reading: Free Big Universe Literacy Platform on K12 

Free online courses for kids in grades 8-12 to help teach reading, coding, and even career skills

It’s been well proven that leveled reading is the best way to improve literacy skills, since it allows kids to select “just-right” books on the subjects that interest them. So basically, this is like being in a classroom with bins full of leveled books, only there are 17,000 of them.

During this crisis, K12 is offering free access to a library of thousands of leveled e-books on Big Universe. Simply sign up your child, then they can search for what interests them by subject (space, sports, history), genre (fiction, non-fiction, biography), reading level or grade, and language. It’s so perfect for summer reading! Especially now that they really get to pick what they want to read.

But Big Universe is not just a library, it’s a massive digital reading platform that helps keep them moving forward with reading and literacy skills.

What’s cool about it: The platform’s Reading Fluency Tool uses advanced speech recognition technology to listen to students as they read aloud, retell the story, and respond to questions, to determine how they’re doing with reading comprehension, and whether they need a little nudge to pick a book at a more appropriate level for them.


2-3. For Coding: Free 2-Week Coding Bootcamps from Destinations Career Academy

Free online courses for teens to keep up learning at home: Coding your own VR video games

As long as our kids are on screens (and yes, they are on screens!), they can make the most of that time with a two-week bootcamp in video game design and programming, and another in virtual reality development, both through Destinations Career Academy.

In video game design, kids learn block coding through esports, which is pretty brilliant. They’ll develop their own sports video games and multi-level games that they can even play with friends. In the VR bootcamp, students will build their own virtual reality worlds, and come away with a great introduction to HTML and A-Frame JavaScript.

60-90 minute morning sessions offer instruction, while the afternoon sessions let them develop skills and strategies to compete in eSports tournaments, including Smash Bros, Fortnite, and Rocket League. That leaves plenty of time for a quick bike-ride around the block, or a game of HORSE in the driveway — those things are important to us too.

What’s cool about it: Introducing kids to coding through the games they love is a great way to get even reluctant coders coding; and the fact they can actually play the games they make with their friends — complete with VR headsets — is incredibly motivating and rewarding.


4-6. For Earning High School Credit: Tuition-Free Online Summer Courses

How your teen can sign up for free online summer school classes that earn school credit

If your high school student is already excited about a potential career path, or they are excited to figure one out, these three career-oriented summer school courses can be a terrific way to spend time this summer, and to get a jump on some career-focused learning before September starts up again. All, totally tuition free.

Students can choose from three pathways that all happen to be in pretty big demand right now:

Business/ marketing, including marketing, financial management, and HR.
Healthcare, including disease prevention, personal health management, and social work
Information technology, including digital communications, programming, and software development

The course only requires about 2 hours a day over 20 total days (don’t worry, they get weekends free!), and best of all, you can submit their final transcript to their own school, and earn actual high school credit for the completed course.

What’s cool about it: The online courses give all the tools, incentive and feedback to allow kids to remain self-directed, while a teacher for each course is available to answer questions so kids don’t feel like they’re totally on their own. We also like that these may not be classes that are offered at your current school, giving your kids one more opportunity to get excited about a whole new career path they might not have considered.

Thanks so much to our sponsor Destinations Career Academy for offering all these great options for tuition-free courses for our teens right now. Visit the website to learn more about their success with tens of thousands of students.