If you’re running out of steam, don’t despair. With a strong broadband connection, you can fling open the window on a digital world brimming with lesson ideas, from times tables singalongs to coding tips
Some things just go together: Batman and Robin, toast and salted butter and – as we slog through yet another lockdown – children barging in on Zoom work calls to ask what a fronted adverbial is (answer: nobody knows).
At times like this, with many of us supporting our kids’ education (yet again) while we work from home or put in demanding shifts as key workers, emotions are unbelievably heightened. When we’re trying to do it all, knowing that we can rely on our wifi and mobile phone connections means one less thing to worry about.
If we’re home schooling, the best we can do is roll with what each day brings and try to have fun along the way. A good place to start is by trying out the slew of educational apps that are helping children stay happy and smash their schooling at the same time. A+ for everyone.
Teach Your Monster to Read, 99p
Flummoxed by phonics? This app helps your children continue where they left off and it even has the stamp of approval from the Department for Education. Covering the first two years of learning to read, from matching letters and sounds to enjoying small books, the joyful little monster of the app’s title will help your child sidestep common reading stumbling blocks.
Squeebles Spelling Test, £3.99
Let us count the ways we love this app. First up, it allows you to customise spelling tests using the words your own child finds tricky, or, if you prefer, you can simply download one of 100 pre-recorded tests based on the national curriculum. Second, it’s suitable for every level and is awash with nifty options, including dyslexic-friendly fonts. And last but not least, children love rescuing their little Squeeble from the spelling snake and earning motivating stars along the way. A win-win.
Maths Rockx, £9.99
There’s nothing yawnsome or rote here: your kids will be nailing numbers by singing along to classic tunes from the likes of One Direction, Pink, Pharrell Williams and more. Kitchen disco, anyone?
This collection of online multiplayer games and virtual worlds has a Learn & Explore option to point parents – and children – towards games that educate in a way that’s fun. Children can explore the Roblox History Museum with their friends, learning as they go about everything from mammals to human psychology. If they brave the Digestive System Adventure, groups of budding scientists can discover the ins and outs of the body’s waste disposal system. And there’s more – with time on their hands, children can learn how to code and even find out how to design their own games.
This app will help your child nail any of 30 languages. Best of all, it’s a doddle to use, with rewarding short daily sessions (and handy reminders) that will help your children build that all-important love of learning. Très bon.
Forest: App store, £1.99; Play store, free
As every parent knows, the biggest problem with secondary school children isn’t that they don’t have enough work to do, it’s getting them off TikTok/Fortnite/YouTube long enough to get it done. The idea here is simple: the app has a picture of a tree and the longer they stay on their school task, the taller the tree will grow. If they pick up their phone to check Snapchat? Yup, its days are numbered. Better still, they can buddy up with pals to plant trees together, helping them collectively go from procrastinators to productivity machines.
Fender play, free for limited period
If music lessons have gone out the window, this app is the next best thing to live tutoring. Learn the guitar, bass or ukulele in bite-sized lessons, and get a heap of video inspiration from musicians and instructors. Just remind your child to remember you when they’re playing Wembley, yeah.
BBC Bitesize, free
Select the GCSE subjects, watch the video infographic flashcards, and test your progress. Yes, it’s that simple. Sleep easy that everything follows the national curriculum and is exam-board specific so there’s no fluff to distract children from their goals. Great for helping year 11s stay up-to-speed on subjects they want to study at A-level and for keeping year 10s on track for their 2021 exams.
If you haven’t watched a Ted Talk, you’re missing out – these lectures from some of the smartest people around are fascinating and, best of all, free. Why not encourage the family to listen when they’re out and about on their daily walks, making use of unlimited data plans on mobiles? The Ted-Ed video-based lessons are no different, featuring experts and teachers who excel in their field. From how soap kills the coronavirus to the tricks used to build tunnels underwater, there are countless compelling lessons to choose from. If only there was one that would teach the kids how to load the dishwasher.
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