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Homeschooling help!

Posted on 24 Apr, 2020 by Sarah Hart

Homeschooling help needed?! I think everyone is feeling the same at the moment. Swinging from epic highs and lows whilst trying to valiantly homeschool for the last month. I use the homeschooling word loosely there because, you are NOT expected to be a teacher in the primary school sense of the word. However, as parents we are naturally teachers. We were once their “primary” teachers before they reached school age. So whatever we do with our kids over this time, they ARE learning. Try to not worry too much about whether you are doing right, whether they have learnt enough….we’re all just doing our best.

I used to be a primary school teacher before I trained as a newborn photographer. Yet, despite this, I still find teaching at home tricky! It’s easier for me with my children being at secondary – they are set work and are fairly independent. Had this pandemic been a few years ago, I would have been tearing my hair out as much as you may have been.

Homeschooling help for children under the pandemic lockdown

So I’ve put together a few little educational AND fun things that you can do at home if you’re stuck, or your kids are confused by a topic. Or that word that we all hear too much, “bored”. These are just a few FREE resources you can visit to try and help with the homeschooling challenges we’re facing.

Maths, English & Science

Oxford Owl – there’s some great maths activities (including help with learning times tables) for all primary age children. And for those with younger children learning to read, there’s help with phonics HERE

Science Sparks – there’s some great little science projects for primary age children here. From dissecting a flower, making a balloon powered car, or “gone fishing” to test how quickly ice melts, there’s some really simple ideas to get your children interested in some science concepts

BBC Bitesize – currently the BBC have put on daily lessons in Maths & English for every year group. There’s also regular Science, History & Geography lessons there too. You can find them here, just select the relevant year group(primary and secondary): https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/dailylessons

Khan Academy – You’ll find practice exercises, instructional videos and a personalised learning dashboard to motivate learners. The site includes maths, science, computer programming, history, art history, economics, and more. They’ve also partnered with institutions like NASA, The Museum of Modern Art, The California Academy of Sciences, and MIT to offer specialised content.

Mystery Science – a brilliant site for free science lessons. I love the concept too – each lesson starts with a mystery to hook your children in. There’s then a story shown through images and videos, discussion opportunities and a practical activity for your children to try out.

Seneca – this site is aimed mainly at older secondary children from KS3 up to A’Level. There’s tons of practise questions and topics to help with problem areas in maths for example. But for Key Stage 2 children there are also curriculum lessons for Years 5 & 6 Maths all split in to topics (HERE). Plus there’s 11+ practise questions in Comprehension, Maths, Non-Verbal Reasoning and Verbal Reasoning.

The wider curriculum

Big History Project – this is definitely for older KS2 or secondary age children but if history is their thing then they’ll love this website. Looking at the material and the way the website is designed, I would say that children need to be fairly independent and love learning through reading (there are plenty of images and videos included). Big History topics include, The Universe, Our Solar System & Earth, Life, Humans and Today & Beyond. Big History examines our past, explains our present, and imagines our future….quite apt with what’s going on in the world today.

Tinkercad – a free, easy to use app for 3D design, electronics and coding. For Lego lovers there’s a section on selecting a 3D design in order to “brickify” your design…and then build it. And for Minecraft lovers you can use the app to create more Minecraft worlds.

iDEA – iDEA stands for The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award and is an international programme to help older children develop digital, enterprise and employability skills. I first discovered this website through my son’s school email. They suggested that the pupils might like to earn the Bronze award (or higher) through the Easter holidays. This website encourages you to work through a series of challenges in areas covering: Citizen badges, Worker badges, Maker badges, Entrepreneur badges, Gamer badges and Independent badges

Audible – strictly speaking this isn’t a free resource but you can claim your first audible book for free when you sign up. There’s a huge collection of audiobooks for children (and adults). These would make great slots to your daily life when YOU need a bit of a break!

The Artful Parent – a directory of over 500+ kids arts and crafts activities. Everything from painting ideas, drawing activities, print making, sculpture and collage projects. If you are looking for something fun…dip into this site!

Kids Gardening – if you’re lucky enough to have a garden, there’s garden based activities, lesson plans and growing ideas for all age children.

Learn2knit – This is quite a basic website but shares the basics of how to start knitting. This website www.mykidstime.com also has some easy (so it says?!) knitting projects for kids and beginners.

Ted Ed – There’s honestly something for all kids on this site. Your child may not be interested in the usual structured topics that school are sending home. This platform provides really thought provoking talks on a huge range of topics. My son informs me that after watching one or two, he often then gets a recommendation to watch another which he says is usually really interesting and something he’d never normally have thought about. There’s a Watch video, Think (questions), Dig Deeper (to learn more) and Discussion (for online discussion forum)

World Geography Games – this is a great little website for learning capital cities of countries, where countries are in each continent, flags and lots more. It’s multiple choice for a lot of the games and kids feel encouraged to improve their score each time they play.

Rosetta Stone FREE for school kids – your children can learn a language for free for 3 months whilst under these lockdown conditions. There’s 24 languages to choose from!

Woodlands Primary School Homework Help – yes, this is a fabulous local Tonbridge school website! But I know of friends whose children have been given links to the Woodlands website for homework support from diferent parts of the country. It’s a brilliant site with information and games in all areas of the curriculum.

Younger Children

I’ve created a Pinterest board of fun activities for younger children: Lockdown Activities for Children. Hopefully if might provide you with some inspiration for some simple ideas for toddlers and Key Stage 1 children to have a go at if you’ve exhausted all craft ideas you can possibly think of!

Pressure

There’s a huge amount of pressure on social media, to be doing EVERYTHING during lockdown (learn a language, take up a new hobby etc etc). And pressure to be doing everything possible to support our kids with homeschooling help. But the reality is, we CAN’T do everything. In fact, when speaking with friends recently (on Zoom of course!), we all seem to have less time….the days are flying by. I haven’t written this homeschooling help blog to add to the pressure! As mentioned at the start, parents are not expected to pick up the role of becoming a teacher. In fact, your role is really to guide and encourage. And if all your children want to do is dig in the garden, then that’s absolutely fine. They are learning through play.

I promise you I find my job in children’s photography easier than being a teacher to my own kids. Remember this new role is temporary (I’m living for the day I can get back to photographing families again!)

However, what I hope this blog provides, is a place to go if you need a bit of support (or to set your child up on a task that gives you a bit of downtime). If you’ve found any excellent websites existing for your own children, do share below!

Hope you’re all staying safe and well!

With love

Sarah x

PS – If you want something to look forward to, take a look at my last blog and get planning A Stay At Home Street Party!

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Sarah Hart Newborn Photography