Unlike home educators of the past, we are incredibly lucky to have access to a huge amount of information online to support our children’s learning. In fact when you start homeschooling, it can feel like there are maybe too many homeschooling resources to choose from! Here we’ll give you the lowdown on the different types of resources available so that you can decide what might be best for your child.
A note on language: In my posts, I refer to “homeschooling”. In the UK, the correct term for educating your child at home is “home Educating”, with homeschooling referring to a child doing work at home that has been set by school. I use the the term homeschooling in my posts because many people who are new to home educating will use the term homeschooling when searching online and I want to make sure they can find the information.
Online schools very much support the “School at Home” version of home education and can be great if you and your child want lots of structure. While in the UK, there are no online schools that are recognised as actual schools, many of those available follow the National Curriculum and prepare children for I/GCSE exams at 16.
While some online schools only provide for secondary school aged children there are plenty that will support children through the primary school years, right from 4 years old. Classes take place live online and some even include assemblies and tutor time.
Online schools can be useful for parents who need a one stop solution, but they are quite a costly option. You find out more in this post about online UK Schools.
The BBC provide completely free online resources for both primary and secondary education in the form of Bitesize. Many of the resources are interactive and include videos and games. If you are working towards GCSEs, content is even separated by exam board.
Bitesize is a useful resource for those following the National Curriculum as well as general learning in the lower years. You can also check out BBC Teach, which is aimed at teachers but has some useful stuff for home educators.
Oak Academy and Oak Continuity
Oak Academy is a great free resources consisting of video lessons on National Curriculum subjects, some have worksheets to go with them too. If you’re just starting out it’s definitely worth trying it to see if it suits your child. We tried it for maths and found it a bit dry but it’s really down to personal preference.
Key Advice before we start! Don’t rush out and spend loads of money until you know how your child likes to learn. I know you will anyway because we all do but at the very least, try to minimise your spending with free trials, library resources and second-hand books.
Twinkl is a huge website full of worksheets and learning resources. While it was originally aimed at teachers, it has embraced home education and these are specific resources for homeschooling based on the UK curriculum.
While there are some free resources, you really need a subscription to get the best out of it. Twinkl can also be really overwhelming when you first start to explore it so take it slow.
I found that Twinkl worked well for younger children (we used it extensively in lockdown) but once they are older, I struggled with it. This is because, being aimed at teachers, there are no answers provided. This means that with subjects I’m not familiar with, I never know if we were getting the answers right or not.
Edplace, IXL and Seneca
Edplace, IXL and Seneca are three subscription websites that offer some free content and full access via a subscription plan. All offer resources for both Primary and secondary although Senaca’s primary offer is minimal.
The thing to remember about these sites is that they are essentially designed as revision tools. This means that they generally assume your child has already learnt about the subject and is just applying what they know to the answer the questions.
They are great if your child has learnt to material elsewhere and needs to practice but their lack of explanation means they aren’t really a standalone resource for home education.
Online Learning Platforms
There are a range of online learning platforms out there with the majority being aimed at maths and English with a few science ones available too. They generally consist of a simple video explaining the concept and the some questions to answer. Many follow the National Curriculum and offer GCSE contact.
Most of these platforms offer a free trial and I would encourage you to make the most of these. Don’t just explore them yourself, get your child to have a go too and make the decision together about what works and what doesn’t.
Learning games can be great for home education, particular for the primary years. There are a variety of learning games aimed at helping children learn to read, write, understand maths and memorise timetables.
As with the Online Learning Platforms, make sure you do a free trial if you can to make sure it’s the right fit for your child.
Prerecorded Video Classes
There are prerecorded video courses available for a lot of subjects, particularly for secondary age pupils. These can be courses which are designed to be watched as recordings or recordings of classes that were initially delivered live.
If you are considering a recording of a class that was delivered live, try and check a sample before you commit. We paid for a course like this and just found the interruptions caused by the tutor answering questions that we couldn’t see because they were in the chat box on the live, to just be too distracting.
Live Online Classes
Live online classes can be great if your child wants to interact with the teacher and/or their peers. Like recorded classes, there are lots of different subjects available, at different levels.
Some children aren’t comfortable with having their microphone and/or camera on and most providers are happy for them to be left off to accommodate that.
This post lists providers for online GCSE courses and includes both live and prerecorded courses.
Face to Face Tutors
No matter where you live you are likely to be able to find someone who is qualified and willing to tutor your child face to face. If they are working towards I/GCSEs a face to face tutor can be a great resource for exam preparation.
A tutor can also be useful for a child struggling with a particular subject and needing some extra support.
In home education Facebook groups that allow advertising you will find loads of tutors offering their services via Zoom or similar. This includes tutors for primary age, tutors who can support GCSE study and tutors who support more unusual topics like Japanese or British Sign Language.
Some tutors will offer one to one lessons and others will run group sessions which are usually cheaper.
It’s important to do your research before committing as tutoring is a totally unregulated industry so it really is a case of buyer beware.
Your Local Library
While we have endless amazing online resources, your local library is still very much worth a visit. As well as providing free access to computers and the ability to order pretty much any book you can think of, library staff are great a recommending resources.
Many libraries provide their members with access to additional resources online which can be a great money saver. Chatting to library staff and checking out their own books can also be great life learning for your child.
Many libraries offer a special membership category for home educators, our local library service offers three months loan periods.
If you have a child at Key Stage 3, you can find lots of suitable resources in our guide to starting homeschooling at KS3. You might also like our post on free homeschooling resources for 11-16 year olds.