“I am blown away by the resources provided in the PBS LearningMedia website. I instantly contacted my teacher friends and told them they must use this!”
As a former teacher and principal, Jacque has a great deal of experience finding and creating high-quality educational materials for her students. When she decided to homeschool her youngest child, she was well equipped for her new role.
She integrates PBS KIDS programs and online resources into her child’s education, including PBS LearningMedia, where Idaho Public Television and PBS have curated free, standards-aligned videos, interactives, and lesson plans for teachers of Pre-K through 12th-grade.
“I am blown away by the resources provided in the PBS LearningMedia website. I instantly contacted my teacher friends and told them they must use this!” Jacque says.
She’s able to use lesson plans and videos from the website to support content topics she teaches her son. “I have been creating inquiry units based on interest and relevance. Our first unit was about Native Americans. I took him to a local tribal meeting, to show him that aspect of our community, and from there he was so curious and had so many questions,” she explains.
“For example, at the tribal meeting a woman gave him a dream catcher—he just had to know what it was and how it worked. On the PBS Learning Media site, I was able to find a video of a grandmother explaining dream catchers to her grandchildren and how to make them.” She says, “We also used Molly of Denali episodes and games to further our learning.”
Jacque says she uses PBS LearningMedia videos from Between the Lions videos (vowel songs, letter sounds, vocabulary development) with her son. “We also use Science Trek videos to supplement our current unit on autumn,” she says, adding “He enjoys the Science Trek videos!”
Her son’s love of Odd Squad led her to find a clip of the characters counting 100 creatures. “I made it into a lesson, and he had a blast.” Jacque says. “I also use clips and videos as ‘brain breaks’ throughout our learning.”
Jacque previews games on pbskids.org to determine which ones will support concepts she’s teaching her son. “He absolutely loves the games—as do I! We allow PBS KIDS online games for him at this age because we know they are safe and educational.”
Jacque says, “PBS has really been a big part of our son’s life. From watching Elmo on Sesame Street and Odd Squad to now in his school learning.”
STEM materials are especially important to this homeschool parent in Nampa, Idaho, who appreciates PBS KIDS for offering “guilt-free screen time” to her kids ages 7, 5, and 3.
Kim B. is no stranger to the COVID pivot.
Her eldest was ready to start kindergarten, but when the pandemic struck, she chose to homeschool him. And she also chose to do preschool at home for her 5-year-old.
"We watch a lot of PBS KIDS shows for some guilt-free screen time,” she says. And the kids love to play PBS KIDS games on their tablet.
Kim says, “I think what I like about the shows is that they are educational, and the characters are kind. There is a lot of stuff on TV that I don’t want my kids to repeat—the tone, the way it was said.”
She also appreciates the diversity of the characters. “We like the shows that have a variety of races and cultures represented so my kids see that as normal everyday life.”
Kim suggests, “For families thinking about homeschooling, it can feel like you have to do a lot of work to make it happen. But it doesn’t have to be hard. There are so many resources out there.”
A homeschool parent in Eagle, Idaho, who uses PBS KIDS shows, apps, and games with her two girls, ages 9 and 13.
Kristin H. started homeschooling in Eagle, Idaho, when her eldest was 5 years old.
At first, homeschooling was about personal choice; then it was out of necessity.
Her youngest daughter is hard of hearing and has developmental disabilities that put her at high risk for COVID. Her eldest recently entered middle school.
“Both my kids have disabilities. They are in categories of people who need more representation, and we appreciate that PBS cares about that. I appreciate the diverse representation that exists in PBS games, apps, and shows,” says Kristin.
She says, “I think these resources are especially important in a pandemic when some kids can’t go to school, like my kid. And even when kids can go to school, there are some that have to stay home for extended periods of time for quarantine purposes. And they need these resources when they have to be at home.”
This energetic and resourceful mother has worked hard to help her daughters learn in ways that best suit their individual needs, finding educational materials where she can, and choosing the ones that are most accessible for her children.
Kristin says, “We don’t see a lot of different cultures everyday, but in these shows, my kids get exposed to cultures they would not be exposed to otherwise.”
“One of the things that makes Idaho great,” she adds, “is that we have this wonderful Idaho PBS resource.”
For busy working mom and parent of 3 Tenille, new community is built around learning programs in American Falls through Idaho Public Television’s Family and Community Workshops.
“We are a big science family,” says Tenille Call, mother of three, ages 3, 8, and 12.
Idaho Public Television’s Family & Community Learning Workshops fit the broad range of ages in her family and are “super fun,” she says.
Call appreciates having trusted resources for her kids as an alternative to “just handing them a tablet and having them engage randomly on YouTube.”
“It’s awesome to have ready-made resources that are intentional in their purpose. I’m a busy, working mom. Looking to a solid resource that has specific lessons is super helpful,” Call says.
Call has even involved neighbors, and says “we all ended up connecting over lessons and building a strong sense of community in our neighborhood.”
“We didn’t feel alone because of mentoring from Idaho Public Television and Florina connecting with us over Zoom,” she adds.
Call is a member of the Early Learning Collaborative in American Falls, Idaho, and is grateful for the partnership with Idaho Public Television, which sits on the group’s collaborative board to brainstorm ideas, offer support for community events, and provides ideas and resources for hands-on learning with families.
“These relationships enhance my vision as a mom. There is only so much I can do on my own. To have this village of people all invested in my kids’ academic success helps me to succeed,” says Call.
“Through our relationship with Idaho Public Television, our American Falls community is now talking more about early learning and it’s become part of the culture of our community.”
Call says that “early learning is about helping and supporting families in giving their kids the best chance. All of these programs with Idaho Public Television support that vision and goal.”
Full-time mom with three kids in Marsing, Idaho, is faced with keeping her kids busy, engaged, and learning from home. IdahoPTV stepped in with Family and Community Learning Workshops to help lighten the load.
Cynthia Gonzalez has her hands full.
A full-time mom with three kids ages 5, 7, and 9, she is always on the go. And during the COVID-19 quarantine, she was faced with the challenge of keeping her kids busy and engaged with activities that are family oriented and educational.
Idaho Public Television provides activity packets through its Family & Community Learning Workshops.
“Being involved in the Family & Community Learning Workshop and getting activity packets every week was amazing,” Gonzalez says. “It brought us all closer together.”
The family activities provided a wonderful alternative, she says, to the kids playing video games or watching content on YouTube she has not vetted.
“These moments create opportunities to connect with my kids. PBS has allowed me to do that by providing easy-to-use, ready-to-go activities and resources,” she adds.
“The instructions, recipes, and ingredients were delivered to our home,” says Gonzalez. “We sit down, read the activity, and it’s smiles and laughs! When there is frustration, we talk about it.”
Her favorite activity so far: making potato soup as a family. “I’d never made potato soup in my life, and now we make this together and the kids love it.”
Gonzalez also praised the ease with which she can switch settings in PBS apps between English and Spanish. “I love virtual storytime. The newsletters are amazing. And I love the free printables.”
“The material from Idaho Public Television and PBS is what I want my kids to learn. I love that it’s all family oriented. The kids feel good because they are doing something and as a parent I feel good because we are connecting.”