Homeschool 2.0: Our guide to the best distance learning tools

It’s a stressful time for parents – but the good news is there are many resources to help meet the needs of children of all ages

With schools closed, there are ample resourses online to help parents and students with home-based learning. Photograph:  Gareth Fuller/PA

With schools closed, there are ample resourses online to help parents and students with home-based learning. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA

 

Here we go again. Three weeks? Three months? The truth is nobody – including the Department of Education – really knows how long the schools will be closed.

It’s a stressful time for parents, particularly for those who have to work from home while trying to keep children engaged and educated.

The good news is there are numerous resources out there to meet the needs of children of all ages and stages.

With the assistance of teachers, schools and parents, we’ve compiled a guide to the best homeschool resources.

Primary school

LITERACY/NUMERACY

Twinkl.ie
Twinkl.ie was created by teachers, ideal for home education, it has lots of appealing games, stories, worksheets, etc. The Twinkle Go! section is free to access online during January and has lots of engaging interactive educational resources.

Home School Hub
RTÉ’s Home School Hub proved a big hit with pupils and parents during the previous school closures; its subsequent Afterschool Hub has lots of great content. Programmes and activities can be played back on the RTÉ Player. There’s a wide archive of ideas, worksheets and activities at rte.ie/learn

BBC Bitesize (bbc.co.uk/bitesize)
While tailored for the UK education system, there’s a big crossover with our own and broken down by age range

Khan Academy (khanacademy.org)
Non-profit site that provides free video tutorials in maths and reading

IXL.com (IXL.com)
Subscription-based learning experience that provides curriculum-aligned maths and English content from junior infants up to sixth year

Storyberries.com (storyberries.com) 
A free, online collection of easy-to-read and beautifully illustrated stories, comics and poems for kids. You can select stories by theme

Handwritingpractice.net (handwritingpractice.net)
Whatever happened to the art of handwriting? This site lets you create custom handwriting practice worksheets.

Sarah Webb’s writing games
Award-winning children’s writer Sarah Webb is posting fun writing games and story prompts over on Twitter (@sarahwebbishere).

GAEILGE

Cúla4 (cula4.com)
This free Irish app from TG4 is aimed at two groups: Cúla4 na nÓg is aimed at under-sixes, while Cúla4 is aimed at older children. As well as TV shows, there are games and creativity sections.

PHYSICAL EDUCATION

Go Noodle (gonoodle.com)
Movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts and used widely by teachers who say it is a great opportunity for kids to wake up their bodies, engage their minds and be their best.

Super Troopers (supertroopers.ie)
Super Troopers offers a health homework programme that encourages children and their families to live happier and more active lifestyles.

CODING

Scratch (scratch.mit.edu)
Learn to program interactive games, stories and animations

HISTORY, GEOGRAPHY & SCIENCE

National Geographic Kids
Learn about science, geography and history at kids.nationalgeographic.com

Nasa Kids’ Club
Child-friendly resource where kids can learn about science and space at nasa.gov/kidsclub/

Órlaith Ní Fhoghlú Teaching Resources
Órlaith Ní Fhoghlú is a third class teacher and she has put together activities and resources relating to the history, geography and science curriculum on padlet.com/orlaithnifhoghlu/wqeiqvodvbl4

GAMES/TESTS

Kahoot (kahoot.com)
Search from millions of existing games on any topic such as brain teasers, trivia of all sorts, news quizzes and science.

SPECIAL NEEDS

SEN Teacher (senteacher.org)
This site has free special-needs teaching resources and learning materials. Its print tools allow you to create, adapt and share resources.

Secondary school

SPANISH

Susan Leahy
Spanish teacher Susan Leahy has a free website (pancomido.wordpress.com/) for Spanish teachers and students, with lots of resources for the orals and the higher-level essay questions.

GAEILGE

Stephen Heffernan
Leaving Cert students can keep themselves fresh by using the Vifax resources from NUI Maynooth where they take a story or two from Nuacht TG4 each week and prepare worksheets on them. (vifax.maynoothuniversity.ie)

Leaving Cert Irish (LeavingCertIrish.com)
Teacher John Gavin has hosted this website since 2001; it provides a host of updated learning resources relating to Leaving Cert Irish orals and the written exam. There are free daily webinars that anyone can watch live or look back on.

HISTORY

Century series
The Irish Times century series captures events of 100 years ago which shaped the world around us, such as the War of Independence and World War I, in vivid first-person accounts and expert analysis by today’s historians. irishtimes.com/century

Waterford Memories (WaterfordMemories.com)
The lives and experiences of women in Waterford’s Magdalene Laundry can be a great case study for history and CSPE students.

POLITICS & SOCIETY

PolSocPodcast (PolSocPodcast.com)
PolSocPodcast.com covers all things and is presented by Dr Jerome Devitt, a teacher of Politics & Society, History, and English.

MATHS

Joyce Mahon’s teaching resources
Maths teacher Joyce Mahon has compiled Leaving Cert suggestions online (jmmaths.weebly.com) with links to other great sites as well.

Fiachra Sheridan’s Youtube channel
This array of videos from secondary maths teacher Fiachra Sheridan explains lots of Junior and Leaving Cert maths topics – including Leaving Cert applied maths (youtube.com/user/fio74 )

The Maths Tutor
TheMathsTutor.ieProvides online support and exam preparation for Junior Cert & Leaving Cert maths. Subscription-based, but a free trial is available.

FRENCH

Essential French
Students of French should check out EssentialFrench.ie which is run by teacher Natasha Lynch. Her Snapchat account is particularly popular.

PHYSICS

Sophia Physics (SophiaPhysics.ie)
Sophia Physics has a resources section and is covering topics for Junior and Leaving Cert physics while telling the story of related physicists.

ENGLISH

SCCEnglish (SCCEnglish.ie)
Run by Julian Girdham at St Columba’s College in Rathfarnham, SCCEnglish.ie has lots of resources for post-primary English, and more resources and ideas on JulianGirdham.com

Aoife's Notes (AoifesNotes.com)
English teacher Aoife O’Driscoll has a free website and has been uploading notes for Junior Cycle and Leaving Cert English on it for over ten years now.

GRAPHICS

Irish Graphic Teacher
Will Nolan is sharing graphics videos on the IrishGraphicsTeacher channel.youtube.com/channel/UCanBKZVzCbgzO-LomL-gp4w

ART

Sheila Flaherty’s art tutorials
Teacher Sheila Flaherty has posted online art tutorials for children at youtu.be/3hSWT86uyxk

REVISION

Grind schools
The Dublin Academy (dublinacademy.ie) provides some free tasters of its online grinds on Youtube, but you’ll need to pay to access the full set of classes (€695 for one subject, or €395 for a second).

The Institute of Education (instituteofeducation.ie) has live online classes and grinds, at a cost of €440 for one full subject, with discounts for additional subjects. Jumpagrade.com allows students work with a personal tutor from €125 a month.

Study websites
Studyclix is one of the most popular of Ireland’s study websites and offers notes, videos and a forum for students preparing for the Junior and Leaving Cert. iRevise is another which offers notes, sample answers and more, while Examlearn.ie was recently established by three former school leavers. All charge for premium access to their content.

Studynotes.ie Students and teachers use this free platform to share their notes and resources which can be useful.

Supports for teachers

PDST (pdst.ie/DistanceLearning)
The Professional Development Service for Teachers – linked to the Department of Education – has an updated section on “supporting online learning during school closures” with links to resources like Scoilnet and Webwise. It also features video to help guide teachers around online teaching.

Cogg.ie (cogg.ie/bunchar-aiseanna)
Is féidir cuardach a dhéanamh ar líne do na háiseanna atá ar fáil do theagasc na Gaeilge nó don teagasc trí Ghaeilge.

Teacher CPD (TeacherCPD.ie)
There are short online courses in the area of digital technologies that teachers can access to upskill and gain ideas for distance learning. It is the learning platform for PDST Technology in Education.

PRIMARY DISTANCE TEACHING

Ciara Reilly Resources
Ciara Reilly, a former primary teacher and now lecturer in education with expertise in ICT and digital education at Marino Institute of Education, has compiled an outstanding bank of resources padlet.com/ciarareillymarino/primarydistancelearning

Maths remote learning
Sorcha Browne Byrne (@iamsorchab on Twitter), a teacher and lecturer in maths at Marino Institute, has compiled an excellent selection of useful online maths tools to assist students with distance learning on her Twitter account.

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