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It has been a challenging year for us all, but especially for our school-aged children. Distance learning, homeschooling and a need to fill the days have been at the forefront for most parents throughout 2020. But as children return to a new school year and we strive to figure out which end is up, parents can still make learning fun for our children.

Experts agree that it is best to engage a child’s interests with their education so they will be more eager to learn. Fortunately, there are resources all over the Upstate – both in person and virtual – that can help families do just that. 

Jessica Lopez is the director of children’s services with Spartanburg County Public Libraries. She said library branches are offering a variety of virtual and take-home resources to help families maintain an interest in reading and learning. Take-home bags are aimed at different age groups, including pre-literacy for little ones and “kid culture” for elementary age kids. 

For older kids and teens, keeping them engaged has a lot to do with attitude, Kristen Pace, education manager for the Upcountry History Museum, said. She noted that giving teens a tangible way to learn is just as important as it is for younger kids. She suggested visiting local spots that are open or asking if they have any virtual resources available.

Maybe you’re not a trained teacher, but parents are a child’s first and most important educator. With the help of some amazing local resources, you can give your child a top-notch education that’s also a ton of fun. 

Tap into this list when you need an extra boost this school year. Add your favorites to the list on Upstate Parent’s Facebook page. 

Spartanburg Public Libraries – A variety of take-home resources are offered for kindergarten readiness, elementary reading, middle school math and more. Learn more at www.infodepot.org.

Greenville County Libraries – As of publication, the Hughes Main Library is open. A wealth of virtual offerings are online at https://www.greenvillelibrary.org/kids-virtual-events. Don’t miss the twice a week virtual story times. 

Anderson County Libraries – Virtual story times, trivia and more are happening at http://www.andersonlibrary.org.

Pickens County Libraries – Even with limited reopening, there is still plenty to do online. Check out the resources available at https://pickenscountylibrarysystem.com.

Upcountry History Museum – Take-home history kits will be available for children to learn South Carolina history from home. The museum is open for visitors. Learn more at www.upcountryhistory.org.

The Greenville Zoo – Advance ticket purchase is required to enter the zoo, but it is open for families to visit. Buy tickets online at http://www.greenvillezoo.com. 

South Carolina State Parks – All state parks are open and following CDC guidelines. Nature learning and exercise opportunities abound. Directions and more are found at http://www.southcarolinaparks.com. 

South Carolina Botanical Garden – The usual children’s classes including Garden Sprouts and Junior Naturalist will now be done virtually, in addition to several other classes, though the garden is open for visitors. Find class information at https://www.clemson.edu/public/scbg/education/youth-and-family-programs.html.

The Children’s Museum of the Upstate – The museum’s Greenville and Spartanburg locations are open but still offering virtual activities. Learn more at https://www.tcmupstate.org and check out past virtual events at https://www.facebook.com/TCMUpstate.

The Melody Garden – Music classes for preschoolers will be held online in the fall and include songs and stories about nature. Sign up at https://www.melodygardenkids.com/classes.

Roper Mountain Science Center – Virtual learning opportunities are divided by grade level in lieu of in-person sessions. Educational videos can be found at https://www.ropermountain.org.

Apps and websites:

·      Vroom - turns everyday moments into brain building activities

·      Novel Effects - storytelling app

·      Hoopla - web and mobile library

·      Bedtime Math - making math as fun as dessert http://bedtimemath.org

·      ScratchJr - a creative coding app

·      Smarter Every Day http://www.smartereveryday.com

Everything old is new again with these favorites:

·      Hands-on activities

·      Start a picture journal

·      Bake

·      Plant a fall and winter garden

·      Research and try science experiments

·      Go on a field trip

·      Visit a farmer’s market

·      Get outside for a walk

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