Learning resources for kids to use at home
As parents turn educators, these are the helpful tools and resources to use for learning, fun and games and more. Plus, many are free!
While many things are still unclear (How long will this last? How can parents manage to work while looking after their children and trying to teach them fractions? Help!), one thing is for certain: every parent you know has Googled 'how to home school my child without losing my mind' in the last 24 hours.
Here at Culture Whisper, we believe that the most important thing we can do in these anxious times is to be present for our kids. While we want them to succeed academically, there's a lot for them to learn and enjoy just by being: playing, being outdoors, discovering a new book and reading it in a den they made, having long chats with us...
We think the two most important ingredients in home learning for kids are mindfulness (give kids time and space to do some stretching, breathing, journal writing and vegging out) and books: whether your child is four or 14, an afternoon spent with a book is an afternoon well spent. Add in some fresh air, some wholesome cooking as a family and you've got a good framework for how to make the next several weeks work well for everyone involved.
Teachers around the city and country have been working tirelessly to put together a selection of workbooks, handouts and video lessons for the kids – we are so grateful to them all. If you're looking to supplement with some brilliant resources, here's what 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 stay focussed.
Photo: Chris Lawton
Books to buy
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 on the horizon.
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. The brand is also launching its own free printables as the go-to for home school and exam prep resources (look out for these in the coming weeks).
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.
Photo: Jacqueline Kelly
Digital resources and printables
With the closure of schools, companies have made these resources (mostly) free of charge. There are too many online resources to mention, but here are some brilliant ones.
In silver-lining-for-every-cloud news, Audible is offering free audiobooks for kids of all ages while schools are closed. Philip Pullman, here we come.
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. Use the code CVDTWINKLHELPS to access a free month.
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.
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.
With free eBooks, phonics and spellings, as well as times tables and maths practice, Oxford Owl is your go-to for all of those Biff & Chip phonics books your Reception kid has started on.
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. Expect 14 weeks of online curriculum to come, with hundreds of lessons (and celeb appearances!) - every aspect was created with the input of over 200 teachers. CBeebies Bedtime Stories has videos of celebs reading stories too, including Tom Hardy.
Oak National Academy
The government-backed homeschooling initiative 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.
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.
Photo: Stephen Andrews
Khan Academy is a comprehensive site with a range of course offerings from early years through to post-graduate test prep. We think parents should log on to this one – not that they'll have the time – to pick up some cosmology or art history knowledge.
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, but celebs like Kristen Bell will read them to your child. Speaking of celebrities reading to kids, authors and stars are all lending their voices to these livestreams online now.
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.
Stemettes is running virtual events across Zoom, Instagram and Google Hangouts which include everything from STEM activities to try at home to revision and exam tips for older kids.
Maggie & Rose
Family members club Maggie & Rose has opened its doors to non-members virtually, with a new 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.
Photo: Alexander Dummer
The beauty of having your child at home is that you can experiment with different ideas and activities, discovering both what you enjoyed and didn't. Here are some different options and ideas to consider...
Forest school approach: The Little Oak Learning method from Jill Wignall is especially lovely for younger kids, who will follow a schedule that includes a mix of stories, songs, nature walks, seasonal crafts and chores – known simply as The Rhythm. It sounds gentle and rather delightful, and there are free printables as well as teaching packages for purchase.
Cross-curricular approach: Scholastic Learn at Home (a US website) has learning adventures for kids from nursery through Y6+, with different days focused on different activities. Work includes reading stories, watching videos, inventing new characters, learning about science and more. To get some movement in their day, try GoNoodle – the app combines physical movement with mindfulness through its selection of entertaining videos.