Need some support with home-schooling? Many of us find it a challenge to fit the workload in while juggling our other responsibilities. We often turn to screens to keep the kids occupied while we squeeze in some of our own work. But that’s nothing to be ashamed of, and time spent in front of the TV can support your child’s education. Schools themselves often use broadcast TV as a teaching tool -- my own 5-year-old is often directed to Numberblocks and Alphablocks on CBeebies, for example.
During lockdown, TV channels have ridden to our aid by creating new content and resurfacing old stuff that’ll help kids keep on top of their school work while out of the classroom. Here, we round up some of the best options on British TV, with suggestions for streaming that are applicable all over the world.
CBBC: Lessons For Primary Kids Every Morning
CBBC, the BBC’s channel for school-aged children, is now showing a daily dose of educational content. Each morning kicks off with flagship shows BBC Bitesize. These 20 minute shorts are easily digestible chunks of learning, using real teachers and drawing on elements of the national curriculum. It’s a bit like mixing your actual school with the Blue Peter format.
Themes change daily: maths & history one day, say, and science another. The show also comes in three flavours: 5-7 years (9-9.20am), 7-9 years (9.20-9.40), and 9-11 years (9.40-10am), but they’re so watchable that my five year old often strays into the older versions. Give it a go if you haven’t already. All shows are available on iPlayer in the UK if you miss the live broadcast.
Another highlight is the Celebrity Supply Teacher slot at 10.05am. As the name suggests, a well-known celebrity hosts a short lesson on the subject they might be known for. In the first week, for example, footballer and national hero Marcus Rashford conducts a PE lesson, Spice Girl and children’s writer Geri Horner offers an English lesson, and chef Heston Blumenthal is let loose in the kitchen for a food science lesson.
The back-end of the morning is filled with the best educational shows from the CBBC archive. The magnificent Horrible Histories is joined by Our School, Art Ninja and Operation Ouch! -- a line-up that’s worth the licence fee on its own.
BBC2: Secondary Learning Every Morning
Older kids can graduate to BBC2, where at least two hours of secondary school content are broadcast every day. This includes programmes in support of GCSE learning and cultural broadcasts such as the plays of Shakespeare.
More details of all programmes can, of course be found on the BBC’s website and iPlayer, where you can break down the menu based on your child’s age or Key Stage. The website also holds many additional lessons and features, including Bitesize online.
The Best Educational Shows On Streaming Services
Other channels and services don’t come close to the BBC (which has education as part of its charter) for structured learning, but you can find some gems on the streaming services. You could try these five educational shows for animal lovers on Netflix, or dip into this list of family-oriented documentaries across the streaming services. We’ve also rounded up 10 of the best educational shows across platforms for 7-11 year olds (KS2). Or you could let them watch their very favourite programme -- whatever it might be -- but select the dubbing in a different language.
YouTube, of course, is a bottomless well of brilliant educational videos. We previously rounded up some of the best options for learning, including videos that tackle geography, science, technology, literacy and general knowledge.
Other Resources For Homeschooling
Kidadl has published a series of useful guides to help you make the most of homeschooling. Try the following for further assistance.
A guide to relaxed homeschooling during lockdown
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