How to keep your kids occupied (and learning) while schools are out


Schools closed indefinitely on Friday, leaving parents and children reverting to remote learning.

Earlier this week, the UK government announced that schools across the country would close on Friday 20th March due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

In a live TV address, Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that schools would shut "until further notice" and whilst much speculation has been drawn, there has been no official confirmation as to when they are to re-open, given unprecedented circumstances.

This means that many parents/carers and children will inevitably be switching to home learning, but we understand that this is much easier said than done. Entertaining children and keeping them occupied is a challenge at the best of times, but now you have to throw learning into the mix and on top of that, many parents/carers will have work of their own to do as well.

It's a tough task, but there are ways to work around it and here at The Manc, we want to give some of the best tips and resources we've found.


Vary the Learning

Don't make it 'boring'


One of the brilliant benefits of home learning is the ability to vary subjects and topics according to your child's interests.

Whilst we really must stress it is crucial that no subject matter is neglected, the unique circumstances we find ourselves in do allow children to perhaps spend a little more time on the topics they are more passionate about.

With such a wide variety of learning mediums available in this digital age, parents/carers really do have the opportunity not to make any two days the same.

In addition to good ol' pen and paper, there's workbooks, interactive learning websites, apps for smartphone/tablet, educational TV, films, radio and even podcasts - all at your fingertips.

Also, if PE/games/sport was your worry, then Joe Wicks has you covered. Beginning Monday next week, he is becoming the 'Nation's PE Teacher' by live streaming daily 9am PE lessons for children of all ages to have a crack at.

When you make the most of what's on offer, you make your life that little bit easier.


BBC Teach

It's free to use

BBC Teach

Following on from the above topic of varying learning mediums, BBC Teach is an online resource offering a wealth of free, educational material.

Perfect for both primary and secondary education, the website is home to thousands of free, curriculum-mapped videos that are arranged by age-group and subject, as well as a brilliant 'School Radio' feature too. There's even interactive lessons and teacher support to turn to as well, should you need that extra bit of assistance.

If you're looking to set your children up with some more independent learning though, BBC Bitesize may be a better call.

BBC Teach

Although it's not a new resource, with BBC Teach being constantly updated and available to use all year round, it could be more valuable now than ever before, so it's definitely worth making use of.


Take it Outside

National Trust

National Trust - Quarry Bank

Outdoor learning not only switches it up at bit, but there's a wealth of benefits.

It builds physically healthier children, contributes to cognitive and social/emotional development, improves sensory skills, increases attention spans and facilitates happiness.

The benefits of fresh air and spending time outdoors have always been there to be seen, but with so much extra-curricular restriction in place at the moment, it could be really vital now more than ever.

The National Trust is one of the UK's most treasured assets, and whilst it has had to comply with government regulations by closing all cafes, restaurants and properties across sites, it has still vowed to stay open to the public by making the gardens, green spaces and beaches FREE for all to use during these difficult times - you don't even have to be a member.

Check out each of the National Trust sites in the North West here, all within easy access from Greater Manchester.


Ask the Teachers

Use the #BetterTogether hashtag

Teachers up and down the country have turned out in the masses across various social media platforms to offer support to parents/carers as they embark on their home learning journey.

They are doing so through the #BetterTogether hashtag, available for all to access.

By re-posting messages of support and editing accordingly to their specialisms, early years, primary and secondary educators are offering their help to parents/carers who find themselves struggling, or unsure of how to sufficiently keep their child's learning on track during this period of much uncertainty.

Even better yet, should they not know the answer to the query you present to them, they are teaming up and working together to find someone who does.

Acts of kindness like this prove that we really are all in this together.


Establish a Routine

This could be your lifesaver


One of the benefits of home learning/schooling is the opportunity to develop your own routine.

The typical school day tends to be rather structured, commencing and closing at a certain time with lessons and breaks programmed in, so one of the attractive qualities in home schooling is that not everything has to be so strict. Whilst it can be tempting to abandon structure all together, on the flip side, no routine could prove to be much, much worse.

Setting a time to wake up in the morning, a time for learning to start and end, factoring in snack/lunch breaks and so on, are some of the best ways to ensure your children are able to differentiate between learning time and leisure time. It also increases concentration and productivity.

Establishing some form of a routine could really be your lifesaver.


If you're a parent/carer that is anxious about embarking on your home learning journey, you have our best of luck. Yes, there could be a few teething problems at first as you all adapt to your new way of life, but we promise it'll get easier.

Hang in there!

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