Free learning resources and activities for children in Hampshire
While this blog is focused on learning resources and activities for children in Hampshire, most of these are not exclusive to Hampshire and there are lots of ideas for all families regardless of where you are based.
Let’s start with the basics
How to cope with home schooling your children amid the Coronavirus school closures
I’m far from an expert on this, but in my opinion, as long as you are doing your best to keep your child’s mind active and their anxieties at ease, there is really no right or wrong way of ‘home schooling’ amid the school closures. You may need to work from home yourself, which could be a good thing as you’ll be teaching by example, showing your child you need to work too and can share your workspace and enjoy your lunch breaks together. However, your little ones might not be the ideal co-workers and things could get pretty stressful in the ‘office’. So it’s really important that you both take time to relax, unwind, play, exercise, etc, and take care of your mental and physical health.
You might have a child who thrives on routine, in which case working out a timetable could be a good option, such as the example below, which you can download or create your own. Your timetable doesn’t have to be hugely detailed, as long as there is a rough structure for the day. Personally, I’m planning to let my teenager get on with her own work and manage her own time, whereas my youngest will need a lot of guidance. From 3pm-5pm he’ll have his free time for watching TV, playing on his tablet, etc, which will allow me to catch up with work or have some ‘me’ time if needed. It’s a good idea to get the kids up and dressed at the same time they would on a normal school day so they are ready to get on with their learning. I intend to take my own advice on this, but we’ll play it by ear!
You know your child (and yourself) better than anyone, so if you know a timetable won’t work well for you, don’t worry about it. As long as they are getting their home learning tasks done which their school has set for them, there’s really no need to have scheduled work sessions, just do what’s right for you and your child.
The age of the child is also an important factor in working out the best way forward. While children in year 10, for example, will really need to knuckle down to avoid falling behind on their GCSE courses, primary age children will have more time to catch up when normality returns. If all you have time to do is stick them in front of a computer and load up some learning resources, don’t beat yourself up about it. If you’re busy working, it’s more important that the little time you spend together is as stress-free as possible for both of you. Try and read together as often as you can, practise things like times tables and simple sums, if you can, create some art together, if you can, but quality family time and ‘you’ time in your free time has to be at the top of your list.
Most schools will have the kids’ work covered, whether that’s via an online system, or home-working packs, so you don’t need to be their teacher, just be there to guide them and help them where you can. If you don’t understand something (I think my 9 year old understands more about his school work than I do!), help will always be available, whether that’s through the school or via one of the many amazing teachers across the country who have put out messages on social media offering to help if you get stuck.
Free resources for home learning
Aside from the guided learning your child’s school will be setting, there’s a wealth of information, ideas and activities online. Here are just a few of the ones I’ve come across:
The awesome Joe Wicks aka The Body Coach is hosting live PE sessions at 9am Monday to Friday via YouTube. This is for children of all ages and parents can join in too. It’s a great way to start the day, get the blood pumping and ensure the kids are getting some exercise.
BBC Bitesize will be bringing you even more content over the coming weeks to help school children with their education and wellbeing. Look out for their useful 30 minute Live Lessons too, which were originally designed for use in the classroom.
Our wonderful local zoo has a range of educational resources to download. Head to the Education section of Marwell Zoo‘s website and you’ll find a range of engaging learning activities for all key stages.
All aboard the Learning Deck at Southampton’s SeaCity Museum. Due to the museum being closed, the team have put together a range of free online resources and downloadable activities for children and families to enjoy at home.
The Scout Association has dedicated a whole page to #TheGreatIndoors, with tons of activities to keep your kids learning new skills and having fun while their clubs are cancelled.
Under 18s can enrol on a 20 hour online British Sign Language course, learn at their own pace and earn a certificate, at no cost to you. Now that’s definitely a skill worth learning.
How about signing up as a family for Gareth Malone’s Great British Home Chorus?! This is a new initiative to bring together amateur and professional performers while experiencing social distancing. That’s music lessons sorted! If only I wasn’t completely tone deaf!
Twinkl is a brilliant site for educational resources and they have a dedicated school closure section, with advice for parents as well as free resource packs to download for each age group.
The TTS also have curriculum-focused, independent learning resources to support EYFS, KS1 and KS2, which are free to download.
For those of you with young children, PhonicsPlay will be free to use for the time being, with the username ‘march20’ and password ‘home’.
The Woodland Trust have lots of online activities, from tree identification and wildlife quizzes to scavenger hunts and craft ideas.
Hampshire’s very own greeting card design brand, The Princess and The Pickle, have a printable A4 colouring book of animal images, reproduced from original photography, which is available to download for free or for a ‘pay what you feel’ contribution. I’m all for supporting small businesses, now more than ever, so if you find any other local offers like this let me know and I’ll add it to the list!
Winchester-based kids’ interior design brand, Pea, have also created some printable activities, along with recipes and other ideas for entertaining the little ones.
Hampshire Libraries have announced they will close, but they do provide a brilliant digital service with lots more e-books, audiobooks and magazines to be added over the coming weeks.
I also have a downloadable list of ‘summer’ activities, some of these may be useful ideas although not all of them are possible right now, along with some craft activities you could try. As I’ve now taken a step back from the events page (seeing as everything is pretty much cancelled for the foreseeable) I’ll try and add some more ideas to the site for you when I get chance.
Update: Visit the home learning help section for further ideas.
Balancing work and play while the schools are closed
Even if you are self isolating as a household, the current government advice (at time of writing) is that you can still go out for a walk, as long as you distance yourself from others. Fresh air and exercise is so important, especially when the kids are cooped up at home and missing their regular PE sessions and playtimes. In Hampshire, we are very lucky to have some wonderful open spaces right on our doorsteps, where you can still distance yourself from others. If you go out for exercise and there are lots of other people around, please follow the government’s guidelines and go elsewhere! Try to find a nice quiet spot close to where you live, rather than travelling very far.
If you have a garden, make the most of it while the weather allows. And even if the weather is utter pants (which let’s face it, of course it will be while the kids are at home), a bit of rain and mud isn’t going to hurt. If you really can’t face an outdoor adventure, try and get as active as you can indoors instead, with games like hide and seek and twister, or just stick some music on and dance around the living room!
Unfortunately, you’re going to have to accept that your house (with the possible exception of Mrs Hinch’s) is pretty much guaranteed to be turned upside down for a while, so try not to worry too much about the mess. Cleanliness and hygiene are obviously hugely important right now, but tidyness isn’t. It’s not like you’re going to have many visitors anyway! Let the kids be kids and have as much fun as they possibly can in this uncertain and worrying time.
Parents – we can do this!
Featured image source: Pixabay