For parents, the news that schools across the country were to close once again was hard to hear. We know how difficult home-schooling was for many families during the first lockdown. The challenges of juggling work with supervising maths or English lessons, or even just finding a quiet space at home for their children to learn are real, as are the difficulties some families have budgeting for the broadband or data access they need to cope with school at home.
As we enter lockdown three, we can at least say we know what to expect, and there’s now an explosion of resources which can be a real lifeline for parents and children. This, alongside offers like these from BT, Vodafone, Three and EE designed to give disadvantaged families the online access they need, with additional data, or vouchers for broadband, we hope will go some way to helping parents through the next few weeks.
In fact, for time-pressed parents there’s so much out there it can be difficult to know where to start, so we’ve compiled a rundown of some of the sources we know families have turned to over the last year, as well as fresh initiatives for 2021.
And, while keeping up with the school curriculum is important (we’re all for finding ways for families to develop their maths skills together!) we’ve included some amazing art and cultural resources too.
New BBC programming. Everyone’s talking about new the BBC programme designed for primary and secondary school children. There will be three hours of primary school programming every weekday on CBBC, and at least two hours for secondary school pupils on BBC Two. The BBC has created the offer in part to support families who struggle to access online learning. The schedule will include Celebrity Supply Teacher and Horrible Histories. Alongside, BBC Bitesize remains reassuringly brilliant with a seemingly limitless supply of subject matter tailored for education at primary, secondary and post-16 levels.
Cover the core curriculum. Oak National Academy continues to be a fantastic, free resource where you can find video lessons organised by key stage and subject, or just search by topic. There are also quizzes, worksheets and activities. We’re hearing great things about White Rose Maths – where you can find free downloadable parent workbooks arranged by primary school year group. TTS also offers free downloadable workbooks designed by teachers and tailored for early years and Key Stage one and two.
Get physical. National treasure Joe Wicks is, of course, back. From next week he’ll be live online on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings at 9am for PE with Joe, a twenty-minute workout designed for kids. He says it’s as much about supporting kids’ mental health as it is their physical health.
Dip into some art. Art Club with Olaf Falafel is fabulous, funny and irreverent. There’s painting, drawing, play doh – and in the recent festive special, a rundown on featured artist LS Lowry, complete with a folk-style theme song performed by Olaf in blue-tit adorned Santa hat.
Explore the natural world. There are excellent resources out there to sample – try YouTube’s Free School for short films on everything from the solar system, to coral reefs or understanding a solar eclipse.
Get dramatic. April and May last year saw lots of free theatre streamed online, and though there seems to be fewer shows available now, there are still some worth looking out for. How about matching the chilly winter weather to a viewing of ‘Frozen, A Musical Spectacular’ created by Disney Cruise Lines, and available free on YouTube, where you can also find Tangled. For older kids, especially if it fits in with their GCSE syllabus, Romeo and Juliet might spark some interest. Watch for free, as performed at the Globe Theatre, for its Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank production, created especially for young people.
So, with lockdown three upon us, we do at least have a mountain of online resources to fall back on. Even so, we know these next few weeks will not be easy for families. As ever, be kind to yourselves, be kind to each other, do as much or as little home schooling as your situation allows. We’ll get through this together.