Fun and informative ways to keep the spirit of learning alive at home.

Did your children thrive from home-schooling? Or did it drive them, and you, to despair? While many parents will do anything to keep their offspring in school, some are opting for home schooling beyond lockdown. While parents lack the expertise and experience of teachers, there are plenty of educational tools online to guide their home-schooling journey. Here, we pick eight of the best online resources to inspire curiosity and confidence in children.


TV




CBBC Newsround is your friend. While children’s screen time has long been a bone of contention, TV isn’t inherently a bad thing. The greater issue is what your children watch, rather than how long they watch it. In the week that UK’s schools shut in March 2020, viewing of children’s programmes on the BBC’s iPlayer rose 80%. Fair enough. Savvy parents were opting to screen educational shows like Newsround, Horrible Histories, Operation Ouch!, Technobabble and Bill Nye The Science Guy.


Magazine subscriptions




Need a cure for boredom? Sign up to a magazine subscription. Children love receiving post addressed to them, and what better than a subscription magazine to encourage all ages to read and learn simultaneously. Researchers say that you retain more from reading from a physical page than a screen. Whatever their interests, be it science, sports or art, there is a magazine subscription for them. Look out for Nat Geo for Kids, Okido, The Week Junior, Aquila and Whizz Pop Bang.


Podcasts




Is your child naturally inquisitive? The booming market for children’s audio content is one to exploit. Children’s educational podcasts are the perfect antidote to a long car journey, children’s bedtime or even background noise for a bath or arts and craft session. Listening to a podcast has all the advantages of watching a good TV show but without the glare of a screen. Our top children’s podcasts include But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, KidNuz, Brains On, Stuff You Should Know.


Coding




If a child insists on playing computer games, take advantage of their enthusiasm and guide them towards an online coding tool. There are plenty of free sites offering online coding games for children. Probably the best known is Scratch, an online coding tool that encourages children to create stories, games and animations through coding. It has a community so the children can share work and collaborate when coding. There is a simple version for five- to seven-year-olds and a more sophisticated model for eight- to sixteen-year-olds.


Touch Typing




Touch typing may well be the most valuable skill that you can teach your child. Once they have mastered typing accurately at speed, without needing to look at the keyboard, they can learn so much faster. ‘Kids who can touch-type produce twice the amount of work as those who ‘hunt and peck’ at the keyboard,’ explains Sue Westwood from touch-typing learning programme Englishtype. ‘Age seven or thereabouts is ideal, because their hands are the right size, they have the concentration span, and because they love being on the computer, they’re motivated to learn.’


Science on YouTube





Why do farts smell? To discover this and other such useful nuggets, watch ‘Let’s Go Live with Maddie & Greg’ on YouTube. On the first day of lockdown, Maddie Moate and Greg Foot, started to film series one of their live family science show on YouTube. For over three months, they broadcast daily half-hour science shows from their spare rooms. They got over two million plays. Watch out for their seasonal special science shows; coming up soon are the Halloween, Diwali and Christmas shows.


Ask Dr Universe




Why do we get pins and needles when we don’t move for a long time? Why is it effective to wear a face mask? If you don’t have all the answers and your child asks, ‘but why?’ on repeat, you need this site. Ask Dr Universe is a science-education based website where children can ask tricky questions and access all the answered ones on every topic under the sun. The topics cover science, technology, engineering, maths and STEM. Learn about how coins are made, robot languages, bee wings and if dogs can tell time.


BBC Bitesize educational website




If in doubt, turn to BBC Bitesize. Whether you are home-schooling, self-isolating or doing blended learning, the BBC Bitesize website is a brilliant resource for offering curriculum-mapped resources. The broadcaster’s online educational site offers practical advice for parents and catch-up lessons in key concepts that children may have missed last term. The lessons are neatly divided up by subject and age group. Over lockdown, the site had a starry line-up of celebrities to enthuse children in their learning. Sir David Attenborough gave lessons on geography, footballer Sergio Aguero gives Spanish lessons.


By Annabel Jack
October 2020

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Annabel Jack

Contributing Editor

Annabel is a regular contributor to The GWG, with a taste for finest in food, fashion and interiors.

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