Coronavirus: The shows to help children learn at home
Parents are quickly having to get to grips with the difficult task of educating their children now that schools have been closed.
The government has announced a shutdown of schools across the UK due to the coronavirus pandemic, with children and students only allowed to attend if they are classed as vulnerable or if their parents are key workers and have no other childcare.
Which means that thousands of parents are looking for ways to teach their kids. Fortunately, with dozens of educational shows and tools on TV, streaming platforms and online, help is at hand.
Early years (up to age 5-6)
Sky Kids channels include a range of shows for pre-school children, including Numberblocks, which helps with numeracy, Labuntina for educational songs, and Rusty Rivets, which shows how to use technology to solve problems. Ryan’s Mystery Playdate is all about physical challenges and solving puzzles, while children can learn about sea creatures and their habitats through Octonauts.
On Netflix, ride with Mrs Frizzle and her students on The Magic School Bus, exploring everything from space to the human body, or choose StoryBots for answers to all the big questions – “how do computers work?” and “why can’t I eat dessert all the time?”, for example.
Amazon Prime Video also offers a range of shows for young children, including Bookaboo, which sees celebrity guests reading their favourite stories, and Dino Dan, which covers scientific information on everything from prehistoric creatures to new species.
On CBeebies, you can find Something Special, featuring Justin and Mr Tumble, who use the sign language Makaton to help youngsters learn how to communicate and develop language skills. My Very First follows children as they experience their “firsts”, from glasses and pets to bank accounts and the birth of siblings, while Alphablocks Magic Words is all about the alphabet, words and phonics.
If you want to teach your kids about climate change and the environment, Sky’s Ocean Rescue: Dive In & Do It! is a good place to start, focusing on children as they learn how to reduce single-use plastic.
Also part of Sky Kids’ natural history and science programming is CBeebies show Maddie’s Do You Know?, also available on BBC iPlayer, which follows Maddie as she explores the world learning how things work and are made, from toilet roll (useful at the minute) to traffic lights. Some older episodes are available now, with a new series due to launch on Monday 20 April.
On Amazon Prime Video, Horrible Science also covers a range of topics – from blood and why we need it, to explosions.
If you’re looking for help with exercise, you can find dance tutorials on Kidz Bop and fitness on Sky Sports’ Kids Fit in 5.
CBBC offers regular Newsround bulletins at 9.15am, 12.10pm and 4pm, as well as perennial favourite Blue Peter, which will continue to ask viewers to join in via send-ins and fan club live chats – and children are still encouraged to apply for their Blue Peter badges.
Sky Kids channels include current affairs and factual shows such as Braydon Meets, which follows young social media star Braydon as he interviews everyone from Tim Peake to Boris Johnson. From 28 March, a special episode of weekly news show FYI will focus on the coronavirus pandemic, explaining the outbreak to children.
Horrible Histories is an established favourite and brilliant for teaching history in a fun and memorable way, while Operation Ouch will help kids learn all about biology and the human body thanks to twin doctors Dr Chris and Dr Xand, plus Dr Ronx.
On Amazon Prime Video, Great Greek Myths recounts the ancient stories in an understandable way, through animation and illustration.
Rhys Jones’ Wildlife Patrol is good for an introduction to exotic animals and tackling wildlife crime, while Dr Binocs makes learning fun tackling a wide range of science subjects, from black holes and comets to carnivorous plants and the digestive system.
Of course, the ultimate wildlife and natural science docu-series come from David Attenborough, and you can find the Blue Planet series on BBC iPlayer and Netflix. Our Planet is also available on Netflix.
Another good nature series can be found on Amazon Prime Video; Antarctica: A Year On Ice is a chronicle of what life is like living in months of darkness in the coldest place on Earth.
Sky Kids customers can download the Kids app, which, as well as the shows, features an interactive art studio, quizzes and learning games such as Phonics, Coding and Maths.
BBC Bitesize supports students with their studies and has recently organised all content by year group as well as key stage and subject, to make it easier for parents and students find the right resources quickly.
Students aged 14-16 can use the BBC Bitesize Revision app, while younger children can find games tied to the UK’s curricula for 5-11 year-olds.
If your child can’t do their sums at school, who better to teach them than former Countdown maths whizz Carol Vorderman? She has made her online maths school, The Maths Factor, free for children aged 4-11 until schools reopen.
Social media fitness phenomenon Joe Wicks, aka The Body Coach, has become the nation’s PE teacher, delivering live workouts on YouTube every weekday at 9am.
Sir Quentin Blake, famous for bringing Roald Dahl’s books to life with his illustrations, is also offering colouring-in sketches on his website.
A number of online sites are offering free resources while schools are closed due to coronavirus. Try Twinkl and Education City for a range of learning resources for different age ranges and key stages.
For maths, Hit The Button is an interactive game with quick-fire questions on everything from times tables to square numbers, aimed at children aged 6-11; Times Tables Rockstars also offers times tables practice.