Tips for parents – and free learning resources for kids.

School is great. Alright, children don’t always love being stuck in a classroom when they’d rather be playing with friends or relaxing at home. But school offers something that is difficult to recreate anywhere else: it expands their imagination, grows their capacity for social success and accelerates their development.

If you’re on lockdown, or self-isolating, or simply prefer not to send your children to school until the threat of being infected with COVID-19 has abated, it may feel like your kids are missing out. You’re not the only one; the global outbreak of coronavirus disease has put many burgeoning school careers on pause. Or has it?

Schools across South Africa are adapting to our shared new reality by offering both classes and tests online. This is a timely development. For the past few years, schools, universities and a range of alternative teaching resources worldwide have been using the internet to create a new kind of virtual classroom. Try these:

●      National Geographic Kids

Animals, science, history and geography come to life in the form of a YouTube channel, print magazine, online games, competitions and more.

●      Scratch

Coding can be creative. Program interactive stories, games, and animations – while learning to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively – with this free resource from MIT.

●      Storybird

Tell your own story, visually, by compiling curated artwork from around the world, and sharing your creations with the world's largest storytelling community.

●      Radiolab for Kids

One of the world’s most popular podcasts has reached back into its archives to find family-friendly content designed to pique young interests: “What do dogs see when they look at the rainbow?” and “Do animals laugh?” will delight and engage curious minds.

●      Rosetta Stone

One of the largest language-learning programmes has made up to 250 hours of learning in 24 languages free for students for the next three months – designed by professional linguists to help students with long-term retention and correct pronunciation. 

Whether your children are in lockdown for a few more weeks or had their school year suspended until further notice, these resources are ingeniously scalable: they can neatly supplement the in-classroom learning experience and give your child a new way to learn and grow in the long term.