How to organise lessons at the school of Mum and Dad
With the exception of those brilliant key workers who are still sending their children into school while they do a vital job keeping the country going, the rest of the UK’s parents have suddenly discovered they are their children’s new teacher.
Not as easy as it looks, it turns out. In fact it looks a lot like a full-time job. Appreciation for teachers and all they manage to achieve keeping youngsters motivated and explaining difficult to grasp concepts is currently going through the roof.
For those parents who are not working full-time from home, there is as much home school content out there as you and your children can manage. Many of the sites are free and cover everything from phonics to PE sessions to GCSE revision tests.
Of course, many people will not have the time to curate an exceptional home school education – but even a couple of hours a day will make a big difference.
Secondary schools are likely to set lessons through Google classroom, but with no teacher to ask for help the school of mum and dad may need some guidance from the resources we have collected together.
Here is a round-up of the various sites to try out –with some offering educational games that can keep young minds occupied while not sucking the fun out of life.
Joe Wicks has been broadcasting live PE lessons every morning at 9am for children on YouTube. He also has a session for seniors if you’re worried about your parents keeping fit or want to make a slow start on fitness yourself.
There’s everything in one place here, and it’s all free. For full coverage of all aspects of the national curriculum from nursery to GCSE, BBC Bitesize has the best content.
Bit worried that you can’t pull off a Year 8 lesson on the industrial revolution or Shakespeare’s Richard III? Never fear, it is all here with worksheets to boot.
For older primary school children there are fun maths games to complete such as Guardians: Defenders of Mathematica, where players have to choose a character then add, subtract, divide and multiply their way to victory in this fun maths game.
For those children working at secondary school level, this is an excellent resource with all areas of the curriculum covered being supported by video clips.
As well as the free online coding lessons offered by Redgate Software from Friday April 3, another Cambridge company, Raspberry Pi, has posted a host of ideas to occupy youngsters and enthusiasts at raspberrypi.org/blog/free-activities-to-do-at-home.
The team behind the bargain computers have more project ideas at https://projects.raspberrypi.org/en.
Twinkl is a site used by lots of primary schools for homework sheets and is probably recognisable to parents.
During the coronavirus pandemic they have made much of their content free to parents who sign up to the site via a school closure resources pack which can be found at twinkl.co.uk/home-learning-hub.
Its resources have been aligned with the national curriculum and even have daily timetables with lesson plans to follow, set up for ages 3-5, 5-7 and 7-11.
All of the worksheets, activities and games have simple instructions and are easy to download and use at home.
Examples of work include live broadcasts of phonics and maths lessons, available by age, as well as read-along story time, news bulletins, looking for minibeasts in the garden, going on a shape hunt around the house, coding sessions and live PE.
The Duolino app offers online lessons that teach 36 languages, so if your Spanish doesn’t stretch further than asking for two beers and directions to the train station, or you stopped learning French after picking up the phrase “J’aime le football”, this will come to the rescue. The app is free so it’s worth a try, plus it has race-against-the-clock quizzes which may engage an older child.
Ed Place Revision covers everything from Key stage one (infants) right up to revisions for GCSE. Pricing depends on how many subjects you want to cover. It follows the curriculum with exam-style questions and practice papers. There is a 14-day trial for £1, then it’s £99 a year for core subjects.
Former maths teacher-turned-entrepreneur Rob Percival, from Cambridge, launched this artificial intelligence-powered maths learning system for those aged 11-16 last year, and has made it free to schools.
It can be used at home too and it’s like having your own private tutor, giving students intelligent, line-by-line feedback in real time as they work through maths questions.
Many schools subscribe to websites such as MathsWatch which offer clips of teachers explaining a concept plus work to complete. The bank of thousands of online questions are automatically marked and cover every area.
It’s not cheap, but could be useful for parents not confident at explaining complicated maths concepts to their children. The price for primary school children is £100 a year. It is £150 for key stage 3 and GCSE content is £375. Visit mathswatch.co.uk.
The Maths Factor
For children aged up to 11, The Maths Factor is an app created by former Countdown co-host Carol Vorderman. The lessons start with a video explaining a mathematical concept, then there are exercises to do. If you complete 30 days on the app they will send out a medal in the post. It offers a free trial, then it’s £9.99 a month.
Cambridgeshire Libraries offer access to thousands of children’s ebooks through the site cambridgeshire.rbdigitalglobal.com.
Download the app, sign in with your library card and check out what books are available to download for children. There are no late fees for borrowed books – when the time is up they will disappear from your device.
Amazon’s audiobook service Audible has made many children’s books available to download for free.
Visit stories.audible.com. Titles to listen to include White Fang, The Owl and the Pussycat, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Winnie the Pooh, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Wind in the Willows.
On Twitter there have been several art challenges including the Natural History Museum’s #NatureDrawingClub every Friday, or a daily doodle with the Royal Academy by following #RADailyDoodle. Their first one was a competition to draw the best ham and attracted dozens of entries. On YouTube you can draw along with Sarah McIntyre (#DrawingWithSarah), Rob Biddulph (#DrawWith Rob), Steve Lenton (#DrawAlongALenton), Fred Blunt or Disney animator Michael Woodside @AnimWoodsy.
More by this authorAlex Spencer
This website and its associated newspaper are members of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO)