How YouTube Can Unlock Back to School Success

Here’s how to create a full curriculum of courses around YouTube videos to get your kids through COVID-19 school shutdowns.

The COVID-19 pandemic just won’t quit. That means school systems in many areas of the world will not be welcoming children back in the next few weeks like they normally would.

It’s great for kids, who will literally and figuratively 'Zoom' through online classes so they can release their cooped up energy in the restricting confines of social distancing. Obviously, the situation isn’t so great for the parents, who typically prefer their young ones participate in engaging, productive classes while the adults quarantine in peace.

So, many parents are still resorting to temporary home schooling.

If you think that sounds like a great—but super intimidating—idea, you’re in luck. YouTube has enough educational content to easily fill entire curriculums for learners of all ages, for as long as COVID-19 continues.

Online Learning on YouTube: Science Class

Rather than locking down your squirming kids for a boring distance learning lecture on human anatomy, let them watch this 'Gross Science' video on snot:

When it’s over, they’ll probably watch more of the channel’s vomit-inducing videos without your prodding. Learning accomplished!

Another, less-nasty option is AsapSCIENCE, which is still churning out fun videos during the quarantine, including this one with an interesting experiment on mask-wearing and bacterial growth.

Online Learning on YouTube: History Class

Juice up dusty old history class with master storyteller Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. As the name warns, these jaunts through history can get intense. Exhibit A: an episode entitled “Painfotainment” with graphic descriptions of historical schadenfreude told in the ironically soothing crunch of Carlin’s gravelly voice.

This course is for high school and college learners.

Online Learning on YouTube: Math Class

Hoards of YouTube videos attempt to make math interesting, but none do it better than Vihart. Armed with mesmerizing math-based doodles and fueled by an obsessive hatred of the traditional use of pi, Vihart makes arithmetic the most interesting class of the learn-at-home day. Don't believe me? Take a look at how the channel even makes logarithms cool:

Online Learning on YouTube: Philosophy Class

Fresh high school graduates forced into a quarantined gap year can get a head start on their university core curriculum classes with a channel like Philosophize This! Host Stephen West summarizes the ideas of philosophers like Nietzsche and concepts such as logical positivism in engaging bite-sized chunks of about 30 minutes.

A word to the wise home learner: West advises his work is “beginner-friendly if listened to in order.”

Online Learning on YouTube: PE Class

Gym class at home could be as simple as releasing your kids into the back yard. Alternatively, you could provide a little structure with a channel called Cosmic Kids Yoga. Each episode is an adventure set in a different world (Minecraft, for instance) so little ones don’t get bored and start bouncing off the walls again.

Joe Wicks rose to fame on YouTube by offering free workouts to kids (and adults) while households were on full lockdown during the pandemic. Here's taster of a recent fun exercise routine from him:

Older learners can draw inspiration from NEA’s mini basketball games or even Major League Wiffle Ball!

Online Learning on YouTube: Art Class

When the time for art class arrives, check out the daily painting challenges posted by Wow Art. The step-by-step tutorials even include links to Google Drive patterns and other resources in the descriptions to make sure you have everything you need. Each episode is backed by a soundtrack of relaxing piano music.

If you want to get a little more wild and messy, click over to Tiktus Color Art and learn some amazing acrylic pouring techniques.

Online Learning on YouTube: Social Studies Class

Leave the social studies to Mr. Beat, YouTube’s resident civics professor. The bulk of his content is about US social studies, but he dips into international topics from time to time as well.

He’s made kid-friendly videos on everything from impactful US Supreme Court cases to a geographical and cultural demystification of the South American nations of Uruguay and Paraguay.

Online Learning on YouTube: English Class

It would be irresponsible to build a YouTube curriculum without including Khan Academy, and the channel features an excellent in-depth series on grammar that’s perfect for an at-home English class.

You can also mix in some English literature with Ted-Ed’s beautifully narrated and animated series There’s a Poem for That which includes this gem:

After creating your own YouTube curriculum for learning from home, you might just want to keep using it when schools reopen. There may even be other conventions to replace with online content.

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