Please note we would recommend you visit any of these sites mentioned on this page or in the other lists we’re linking to before sharing them with your children to ensure they are safe and suitable.
All around the world we are being asked to stay home and to stay safe. So, my team and I have been collecting some of the best recommendations, activities and ideas we’ve seen to keep our kids learning from home, improving their life skills, discovering new things, having fun and ultimately keeping ourselves healthy and centred – and bringing our families closer together.
Learning from home – some things to remember
As a former passionate teacher I need you to know a few things about trying to do schooling at home…
- Our kids are stressed and stressed brains do not learn well. Address this elephant in the room first.
- As Dr Kristy says in her excellent article on how to work remotely and keep your sanity in tact as a parent, you need to ‘lower the bar’ of expectation – 6 hours of time in school would often only equate to 3-4 hours of actual cognitive learning so aim for less than a full school day at home.
- Every child has preferred ways of learning that they may not even be aware of and teachers address that all the time.
- If a school is pressuring you to ensure your child does hours of school work each day, email them and politely suggest they do some research around trauma-informed behaviour and that your job as a parent is to ensure your child’s mental wellbeing in a time of crisis. When that primary need has been met, you will address their learning needs as best you can.
- Ensure your kids have breaks and times for movement and some fun.
- All school systems will need to create allowances for learning gaps and delays after this pandemic has ceased.
- Embrace all learning – the ideas my team have gathered are wide reaching from virtual tours of museums, to crafty ideas and exploring coral reefs….
- Encourage your kids to go find something fascinating to teach the rest of the family.
- Improve their vocab with a new word each day…that they find and share!
- Embrace this time as a time to teach the magic of a love of learning!!!
Most schools will by now be lining children up to learn from home using Zoom, Google Classroom and other teaching-from-home resources … and sending printed work home for children who don’t have computers. So please do follow your individual school’s programs and suggestions for learning from home. To complement that, here are some great links for further resources & articles that support learning from home.
There have been a LOT of good lists already published so we’re not going to reinvent the wheel… here are some of the best ones we’ve seen…
- Bec Sparrow has put together this fabulous list of Home Learning Ideas so this is a great place to start.
- Outdoor adventurer of our times Bear Grylls has put together a great list of 100 ‘indoor survival challenges’ for kids under isolations – might be particularly fine for those boisterous ‘roosters’ in particular.
- Upper Sturt Primary School in South Australia has published this great list in this Facebook post with some excellent links to all kinds of learning programs.
- Sydney woman Jules Buckland has put together a cracker list on Facebook of everything from scholastic support, to virtual tours, to livestreams from amazing places around the world, to learning cooking and much, much more. She keeps adding to the list so take a look at that here.
- The wonderful Michelle Mitchell has put together this great list for TOP PICK: Resources for Tweens and Teens during COVID-19
- This article from Nell Frizzell at The Guardian has some lovely tips for plenty of offline things to do as well.
- KidsActivities.com has put together this very helpful list of all the education companies offering free subscriptions now that schools are closing.
- Raised Good have compiled a great list of things to do with the kids at home when you sign up to their village.
- Creative Star Learning feature a wonderful list of 100s of outdoor, nature-based activities online.
- Some great home schooling tips here from Broken Hill School of the Air.
- Another fantastic list focusing on education, mindfulness and fun from Green Child Magazine.
If you’re looking for online teaching resources for particular subjects here are some of our favourites:
- Khan Academy is a non-profit organisation that offers free lessons in everything from maths, science, history, grammar, storytelling, coding, computer animation, economics and business. And they span right from preschool to higher years of schooling.
- WooTube is a fabulous YouTube channel run by Australian maths teacher Eddie Woo with free maths lessons (and he has resources for teachers too)
- Maths Rockx: We know music is magic for the brain – and I love this Aussie app that helps kids learn times tables with music. They also have some simple, helpful resources on their webpage (many of which are free)
ABC Education brings you thousands of free, curriculum-linked resources for Primary and Secondary students and teachers
The West Australian Department of Education put together a great resource on learning at home.
- If you’re looking for worksheets (please don’t go crazy with these!) there are LOADS of free ones covering everything from musical notes, countries, sight words, maths through the whole curriculum and more at 123Homeschool4Me
- If you have younger kids, here are some great ideas from toddler-12 year olds
- Scholastic’s Learn at Home provides 20 days’ worth of active learning journeys designed to reinforce and sustain educational opportunities for those students who are unable to attend school.
- Blockly is a fun and free way to learn computer programming.
- Scratch seems to be many schools’ and parents’ go-to site when teaching kids coding… so instead of just playing games they can make their own.
- Top 10 Literacy and Numeracy resources on ABC Education.
- And some great tips FOR TEACHERS from psychologist Andrew Fuller on successfully engaging with students via remote learning.
- For younger children, this app includes over 1000 fun activities (called moments) for parents to do with their child as well as tips for parents that turn everyday moments into brain building opportunities.
- Dr Prue Salter (a specialist in study skills) has released a free video series answering the most commonly asked FAQs to help Years 7-12 families make the learning taking place at home as effective as possible this term.
Planning your ‘staycation’
As many of us will now be enjoying our Easter break (or spring break for the northerners) from home. Here are some suggestions for things you can do as a family as you enjoy your staycation rather than your traditional vacation.
- Take a virtual trip (and visit destinations anywhere from The Great Wall of China to the Great Barrier Reef, Taronga Zoo or The Louvre in Paris). Click here to take a virtual trip now.
- If you had a camping trip planned this Easter, perhaps set up camp in your lounge room or backyard or on the deck. Or have some fun recreating the holiday experience that you perhaps had to cancel, like this family from the US did when their trip to Disney World was called off (you don’t have to go quite that far but if you have the energy and imagination you may as a family have some fun in the process!)
- Why not take the family on a journey with Russia’s amazing Bolshoi Theatre?
- Bring Cirque du Soleil into the lounge room!
- Adventure Reels have curated a movie playlist of adventure films for the kids.
Staying connected to nature
- Nature is everywhere! Here’s a fantastic list from Nature Play WA of 25 Things to Do in Isolation: Nature has not been cancelled!!
- Daniel and Trudy from Educated by Nature have come up with a fantastic idea… a KIN Online Village. This is an online nature connection mentoring program to support children to create nature connection routines at home or in nearby natural spaces, like local bushland. These sessions are very affordable and allow kids to connect with other kids.
- National Geographic has a super interactive, kid-friendly website and app full of fun, helpful ways to introduce children to real world issues while learning amazing facts!
- Bring the wilderness inside with live African animal safaris by &Beyond.
- Explore the ocean with live camera streams of underwater reefs on Orpheus Island, Pioneer Bay.
- Take a virtual dive deep into natural marine sanctuaries with The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
- A virtual forest therapy walk will soon connect the whole family with nature without leaving the house.
- For some backyard fun, watch 30 Days of Backyard play by Plot Australia and here is a printable PDF.
Getting kids reading & listening
- David Walliams is reading free audio stories every day. What a treat.
- Audible has made stories for kids free while schools are closed. Check out their huge range of audiobooks here.
- Some children’s favourite celebrities read a bunch of their favourite stories at Storyline Online and, in Australia, at Storybox Library, where some of their favourite storytellers do the same.
- My website has a list of books for reluctant readers, and to minimise conflict, check out the lists on my website of books to enhance empathy and also some of the best reads on teaching children kindness.
- We also have a list compiled from our community’s suggestions of some of the best podcasts and audio books for kids (check your local library’s online borrowing to access the audiobooks for free).
- Watch Alison Lester reading her wonderful book Kissed by the Moon.
Staying fit and healthy and calm and mindful
- Maggie’s daughter-in-law put her onto Workout Work In, a ‘holistic online 45 minute practice that increases your heart rate by working out,
and improving your head space, by working in’. Maggie said it was especially wonderful for mums with newborns… the program is run by Sydney mum of three Vanessa Quayle.
- Lots of people in our community have mentioned Cosmic Kids Yoga… They provide yoga, mindfulness and relaxation activities specially created for kids aged 3+.
- Go Noodle engages 14 million kids every month with movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts. And it’s free.
- Have a dance off with your kids, like this dad – bound to get the endorphins flowing!
- The Body Coach Joe Wicks is putting together daily workouts for kids called PE with Joe on his YouTube channel (he also has workouts for adults and one especially for seniors so worth checking out).
- I am an ambassador for Smiling Mind and they have some wonderful audio tracks to help the whole family be more mindful and feel a lot less anxious and calm. Check out their free app.
- Chalk drawings and messages on pavements are a great way to get kids outside and into a mindful, creative mindset. Stone & Sprocket give some pedagogy tips on how to get started.
- Head & Heart Mindfulness are offering a free Kids Mindfulness Journal. This is a wonderful gifts for kids everywhere!
- The University of Western Australia’s KIDDO program offers free, high-quality resources for parents and educators to help children to have fun being active at home. Check out this video overview of their activity booklet.
- The Get a GRIP free online program aims to teach children how to manage anxiety.
Getting crafty and cooking
Here are some ideas for getting kids into craft and in the kitchen:
- Jamie Oliver’s son Buddy wants kids around the world to join him in the kitchen. Check out his YouTube playlist here.
- Jamie has also created an online cooking program for all ages called Learn Your Fruit & Veg!
- Club SciKidz post daily science or cooking experiments that will get kids in the kitchen (and, just quietly, learning).
- Make paper mache.
- Get crafty with ABC Kids shows.
- How about a Bluey Crafternoon?
- Fancy an art class with iconic Aussie artist Ken Done? He’s offering tips for kids and teens.
- Try these 10 minute craft activities for kids.
- Knitting for kids (lovely with the cooler months ahead!) is fun.
- Macrame – back to the ’70s anyone?
- Making homemade gifts such as this sugar scrub.
- Homemade puppet theatre.
- One family has started a ‘post-virus jar’ in their house – a great way to remember THIS WILL PASS.
- The Resilience Kit have come up with a great idea for bored kids – pick a stick!
- Making bubbles with TheDadLab.
- And here’s a great printable scavenger hunt.
- If you’re in the mood for some DIY, Porch has this article for helping your kids make some seriously flash teepees and play tents on a budget.
Phew! Well that should be enough to keep you busy for a little while.
Remember don’t set the bar too high… try to have fun in isolation and allow yourself some down time to feel all the other feelings too.
Stay connected to friends and family, prioritise sleep, exercise and nutritious food. Make some time every day to rest and, whatever you’re doing, take it slow.