Home learning resources to know about
Parents as educators? We've been here before - and learned a lot. Here are the helpful tools and resources to check out now.
We have nothing but gratitude for the educators: teachers, support staff, school heads, nursery teachers and anyone working with children (or helping to look after them), many of whom are running multiple school experiences - in pandemic conditions - teaching children on site and preparing home learning tasks and lessons across multiple platforms. They are truly incredible and deserve our thanks and support.
With that in mind, this time around, we want to be kinder to ourselves - and our children - when homeschooling. We will do our best, we will enjoy our time with them and we will feel OK about things if they don't go to plan or we miss a day of home learning to head out for a yummy hot chocolate at 10 in the morning instead...
Photo: Bruno Nascimento
Here at Culture Whisper, we believe that the most important thing we can do in these emotionally trying times is to be present for our kids, or trying something new together. If you're looking to supplement your home learning with some brilliant resources, or encourage your kids to try something new, here are some options you should check out now...
Two tips from those who teach their kids at home daily? Remember to have a schedule, however loose – and to stick to it every day. It helps.
Also, having a theme for the day or week (inspiring humans, animal facts, the Tudors), can be fun and help everyone keep focus.
Photo: Chris Lawton
Parents are being directed to dozens of websites for teaching videos, online stories, quizzes, interactive games and more. Here are a few ideas when the kids need a break from their screens - but you still want them to do a bit of work...
Photo: Love Writing Co. Stationery
Activity books for kids: Love Writing Co. stationery is a recent, totally brilliant, discovery, with colourful, chunky pencils designed for little fingers and accompanying handwriting books. These supplemental writing books are designed to support the National Curriculum and have the stamp of approval from the British Dyslexia Association. Vibrantly coloured shapes and playful pictures make them appealing to kids, and you'll find books for 3-5s and 6-9s.
Study books: While Bond books and Letts books aren't in the 'super-fun' learning category, they are in the indispensable one – and the variety of questions and word problems across a range of subjects is really helpful for kids of all ages, especially if they have a 10+ or 11+ exam looming in the distance.
Reference books with a twist: Mrs. Wordsmith is a startup that's great for teaching kids interesting vocabulary, through a range of resources like Word a Day books and an exciting Storyteller's Dictionary, as well as a selection of books to help with everything from phonics to creative writing.
The Dictionary of Difficult Words is another brilliant resource (that can teach adults too, trust us), while the Descriptosaurus is recommended for helping kids with their creative writing. For geography, the Atlas of Adventures (and its many variations) is a beautiful book that will get young kids interested in the world around them. We are also obsessed with the Welcome to the Museum series (Animalium, Botanicum, etc), which combines gorgeous illustrations with facts about a variety of subjects that may interest your kids.
Photo: Jacqueline Kelly
Digital resources and printables
With the closure of schools, some of these are also free of charge now. There are too many online resources to mention, but here are some brilliant ones.
Audio books were a major winner of lockdown 1, and Audible has 'em all. If you're looking for one gadget toy to get the kids, we think audio players are amazing - and they're screen-free. Check out the Yoto, Lunii, Tonies and Leapfrog LeapStory for toddlers.
Twinkl is amazing because you can turn your home into a classroom for any age group: you'll find everything from seasonal printables for the pre-school set to SEND resources and GCSE worksheets. Sign up to an account for access to thousands of printables for free.
National Geographic Kids
National Geographic Kids is a must for teaching kids animal, science, history and environmental facts, and also has a selection of trivia games and crafts ideas, like how to make paper straws.
With its informative, bite-size video animations, TedEd has videos to engage the kids, on topics like Viking ships, Greek myths, medicine and more.
Photo: Stephen Andrews
DK Find Out
DK Find Out is the online version of one of those fantastic DK resource books, which appeal to kids of all ages. Learn about everything from the Black Death to basic coding.
Just 15 minutes a day to maths mastery? We'll bite. Smartick is designed for kids aged four to 14.
Another popular maths site, created in partnership with Johns Hopkins University. It's free to sign up.
BrainPOP is a fantastic offering of websites across subjects like maths, English, science, engineering and more, with worksheets, animated videos and quizzes across a range of topics.
You can sign up to a free trial of this reading app, which also includes maths. In addition to fun songs, Reading Eggs students are rewarded with digital treats like golden eggs.
Teach Your Monster to Read
An award-winning gaming app where kids create a monster and learn the fundamentals of reading as they play.
BBC Bitesize contains activities and an app to support students of all ages, including teens, and the site now has a comprehensive homeschooling curriculum, with celeb teachers including David Attenborough and Danny Dyer.
CBBC is helping children without access to tech learn with educational primary school programming from 9am weekdays, with BBC Live Lessons and BBC Bitesize Daily. Older children in secondary school can tune in to BBC Two, which will screen two hours' of content daily which supports the GCSE curriculum.
CBeebies Bedtime Stories has videos of celebs reading stories too, including Tom Hardy.
Photo: The Little Gym
The Little Gym
With a series of "How To" videos and kids' classes on its dedicated YouTube channel, The Little Gym is your go-to for a physical education for the little ones, from babies through tweens. Bonus: they - and you - can learn to master everything from forward rolls to handstands.
Oak National Academy
The government-backed homeschooling initiative made by teachers features hour-long video lessons for kids in Rec-Y10. You can either have the kids do a "scheduled" school day online, or pick and choose subjects and topics they need to work on. There's plenty of choice, with over 10,000 free lessons and resources.
The Design Museum
Find ready-made lesson plans on exciting topics like how to be the CEO of your own sustainable company or how to redesign kitchenware at The Design Museum, which has a wealth of videos and online resources for those curious for some "outside of the box" learning.
Khan Academy is a comprehensive site with a range of course offerings from early years through to post-graduate test prep. There are online video lessons, and tests to check mastery. We think parents should log on to this one, too – not that they'll have the time – to pick up some cosmology or art history knowledge. Did we mention it's free?
This website is a must for when your voice starts to go raspy from reading bedtime stories all day long. Not only is there a fantastic selection of books on the site - including inclusive books - but celebs like Kristen Bell will read them to your child.
Hit the Button
Free, quick-fire maths practice for the five- to 11-year-old set, Hit the Button is maths they'll actually be begging to do.
Photo: Alexander Dummer
Stemettes ran virtual events across Zoom, Instagram and Google Hangouts, all available to view online. These tutorials include everything from STEM activities to try at home to revision and exam tips for older kids, as well as chats with STEM role models.
Maggie & Rose
Family members club Maggie & Rose opens its doors to non-members virtually, with a digital hub. The site features a range of inspiring content for entertaining and educating little ones, with storytime sessions, online art and cooking classes and more, as well as expert recommendations on books, music and learning resources. Enter your email to access the site for free.
Designed to boost kids' confidence in maths, DoodleMaths is a personalised maths programme for kids 4-14, with online maths problems and explanations. Membership is £5.99 a month, but you can try it out for free first.
Our lockdown 1 household winner, Outschool offers live Zoom classes so kids can socialise with others, and it won't disappoint. Our kids have done a range of subjects, from Lego workshops and fashion history courses to feminism through the lens of pop culture. Whatever your child's interests - including specific ones, like Descendants movies, Hamilton the musical or Percy Jackson books - there's a class to accommodate it. Lessons start from $5-$10 a class.
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