Kids and learning are two things close to my heart. I have always been an advocate for education and learning, especially for young children, for that’s where it all starts. Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers and, although they may share responsibility in partnership with others, they never fully relinquish that position.
I have been a teacher all my life (my mum always said I was good at teaching my younger siblings how to get up to mischief) with involvement in some form of education since earning my first teacher qualifications after leaving school. Probably the only thing I wanted as much as being a teacher was to be a writer. Now I am fortunate to combine both.
I write two blogs, both with an educational focus, and freelance for other educational publishers. My ultimate aim is to be a published author of children’s stories. My first eponymous blog is the one through which I met Charli and engage with The Carrot Ranch. The second is part of a website for which I write teaching resources to support teachers of children in their first three years of school.
Over the years I have written numerous posts that promote early learning with suggestions of how parents can support their children’s learning from birth (or earlier). Having supervised my daughter’s education at home until she was nine, I have some sense of what parents are experiencing now as they juggle their new responsibility for ‘schooling’ their children with other ongoing responsibilities.
I have always promoted education as something different from schooling and I believe that parents would be wise to focus on their children’s learning, as opposed to ‘schooling’ during these different days. Many activities that form part of everyday routines are rich in opportunities for learning and, if we ensure children are interested and engaged, they will be learning. My belief is that we all, parents, teachers (and especially those ‘in charge’ of teachers) need to lighten up and reduce stress all round in these circumstances. The children will survive. They will learn. That’s what they were born to do.
If you would like to check out some of my suggestions, you could read these posts:
In this post, I want to share with you some online resources that you may find useful in supporting your children’s learning. Unless otherwise stated, the links lead to free information and resources and are suited for children up to about 8 years of age. I have avoided school-type resources in favour of those with more general appeal for a family to engage in at home. However, there is so much good stuff available for parents and children, I could not include them all. If you have favourite sites you use with your children at home, please add them in the comments.
Supporting young learners from birth
The Australian Literacy Educators Association has 27 Little People’s Literacy Learning Modules. They are organised around themes and each is packed with suggestions for parents to implement with their young children at home.
Talking is Teaching (US) is a website that supports parents support their children’s learning from birth. The importance of talking with children, reading to them, and singing with them is stressed and encouraged. There are many online and downloadable resources with explicit suggestions for parents to encourage their children’s development in language, thinking, maths, science, art and social-emotional skills. A great resource for parents of young children from birth, or earlier.
Books, stories and poetry
The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has put together a great collection by authors and illustrators. There are book readings, audiobooks and eBooks, art lessons, activities and lots of other fun bookish things.
You can doodle along with Mo Willems and his Lunch Doodles. If you enjoy Mo Willems’s books and artwork as much as I do, you’ll love these doodle sessions.
Vooks (US) is a child-friendly ad-free streaming library of animated children books. For less than the cost of one book per month, you have access to dozens of animated stories, many of which have lesson notes and ideas for parents. (This site requires payment though offers a free trial for parents and a year free for teachers.)
The Oxford Owl for Home (UK) focuses on learning for children from 3 to 11 years of age and includes eBooks, videos of storytelling and reading (including by Julia Donaldson) and free activities for developing skills in reading and maths. The books and activities are organised according to their suitability for different age groups. Access to the site is free though registration is required for some activities.
John-John Dot com (Australia) is a video channel on which teacher John-John reads picture books.
Goodnight with Dolly Dolly Parton (US) reads a story from the Imagination Library every day for ten weeks.
Kids News (Australia) has a wealth of up-to-date news of interest to children. It covers a wide range of topics and includes suggestions of other things kids might enjoy such as book clubs to join and competitions to enter. The news articles contain video links and exercises for discussion and comprehension. To assist teachers and parents of students who are learning at home, it provides daily activities for children from age 4 to 14.
Scholastic has many free learn-at-home projects from PreK to year 9 with books (fact and fiction) to read, videos to watch and projects to do. There is something to interest every kid.
If you want to get involved in citizen science projects that advance scientific knowledge, there are plenty of those to become involved in, depending on your interests.
If you live in Australia or New Zealand, you can help track the spread of influenza and Covid-19 by joining Flutracking.
If it’s natural phenomena you are interested in, join iNaturalist to record your observations of nature and share them with fellow naturalists. Join hundreds of thousands of other naturalists and projects around the world.
There are over 50 projects you can join in from home with Zooniverse, including space exploration like this one:
Kathleen Morris (Australia), a primary tech teacher and host of the Student Blogging Challenge, has published a collection of 20 maths games in a free eBook which you can download from her website here. Like me, Kathleen is not a fan of worksheets and these games are easy to play with resources and equipment you probably already have at home.
While it may not be possible for you to physically visit a museum this year, many museums welcome you online. Here are links to just of few of the museums you may like to visit:
You may also like to explore the Tomb of Pharaoh Ramesses VI.
The Google Arts and Culture page provides links to many art galleries with much to explore.
Zoos and animals
At Explore.org livecams you can visit animals in their natural habitat, on farms, and in zoos. You can see dogs, cats, bears, goats, manatees — there are so many different animals and environments to explore.
Just ten of the many places also live streaming animals:
True to Life Books has 15 wildlife videos taken by wildlife author and photographer Jan Latta. The aim of the videos is to educate children about endangered wildlife. Videos include tigers, sloths, meerkats, pandas and koalas.
On Google Earth, you can explore 31 National Parks of the United States. You might even find others to explore around the world also.
For those interested in space, NASA has made its image and video library available to all.
I hope you have found a few new sites to interest you and your children. Remember to share any other favourites of yours in the comments.
Until next time, Norah.