Cheap and free ways to help your children learn
Did you realise there are hundreds of websites out there that offer fantastic, free materials to help your child learn reading, maths and loads of other subjects.
Check out some of my favourites:
1. Libraries and Museums
For most of us, our local library is the first stop.
With thousands of books to choose from, covering anything your kids could possibly wish to know, plus DVDs and organised reading schemes during school holidays, libraries are a fantastic resource for the whole family.
And there’s nothing like a day at the fantastic Science Museum, or Natural History Museum to get kids asking questions. We’re lucky enough to have some of the finest museums in the world and they still cost nothing to visit – so make the most of them.
2. Reading Chest
But what if you’re a working parent and can’t take your kids to the library very often? Is there another way for your child to borrow reading books?
There certainly is. Sign up to a book rental scheme such as Reading Chest and your 4 to 9-year-old will be able to choose 6 or more books to read each month.
It works just like a DVD rental service such as lovefilm. You receive the books by post - and simply send them back, once read, in the enclosed pre-paid envelope. Once your books are received by Reading Chest, you’ll be sent the next book(s) in your list.
Books are available from all of the popular reading schemes and clearly banded so you can create a list of appropriate books for your child.
Of course, this service isn’t free. Bronze membership costs £9.95 per month to borrow up to 6 books (4 at any one time). Silver costs £12.95 to receive up to 12 books/month, and Gold (£15.95 per month) entitles you to unlimited books. Silver and Gold packages also allow you to make 2 or 3 lists, ideal if you have another child at a different reading stage.
Additionally, children receive a book bag, stickers and reward chart, plus you’ll be able to download a certificate when they move up a reading band.
There are obviously cheaper ways to get your child reading, but if time is precious this could be a good solution.
3. Jolly Phonics
But don’t let the terminology confuse you - head to the Jolly Phonics website, which is filled with practical advice, tips, materials and videos to help you learn with your child. And you can find free, phonics-themed games, here.
4. Oxford Owl
If the names Biff, Chip and Kipper sound familiar, head over to the Oxford Reading Tree’s new website, Oxford Owl.
This brilliant, award-winning site is bursting with practical advice and tips to help you support your child’s reading all the way from age 3 to 11. And it even provides 250 of its popular tomes as free eBooks!
What’s more, the Owl website also covers Maths (up to age 7) with advice, tips, numerous activities and even maths eBooks available. And when they’ve read enough, children can head to the Kidsbarn area, which is full of games and pictures to print and colour-in.
5. Charity Shops
Never underestimate the wonders (including readers and teaching aids) to be found at charity shops – go and have a rummage and see what you can find!
6. BBC & Directgov
And even Directgov gives advice and tips to parents to help support their child’s reading, writing, spelling, maths, coursework, from ages 5 to 19.
For younger children, the CBeebies website is full of fun activities to help children learn through play, from babies to six-year-olds.
8. Smartphone/iPad apps and other sites
There are hundreds of educational apps available for your smartphone, which can be great to entertain the kids when you are on the move.
Make maths fun with Motion Math (£1.50) and Math Bingo (99p). Older children can learn all about the periodic table from The Elementals app (free) or improve their geography with the World Atlas HD app (£1.49 for iPad).
Kids pick up languages so effortlessly and the earlier they start the better.
And there are plenty of apps to help. French Words for Kids, Talk Chinese/French/German, and Kids Mandarin all offer free ‘lite’ versions, so your child can try them out before you cough up any cash.
10. Other sites
And there are hundreds more, excellent websites out there. Find out how to make a plane fly, or how to make your own robot at the Science Kid site, improve arithmetic at Maths for Kids and play games to learn about Shakespeare. They can even listen to hundreds of free, classic children’s story audiobooks, here.
And parents of children with Dyslexia should check out the Let Me Learn site for loads of tips and advice to support their child’s learning.
So there you have it, just a few of the sites available that can help our kids learn. If you have any recommendations, we’d love to hear about them!