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For homeschooling or homework, this is the ultimate kids education toolkit. Stationery, tech gear and educational resources parents need for learning at home.
If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that teachers are downright amazing. The challenge of juggling educational supervision alongside regular work responsibilities and household duties has meant we now think differently about learning at home. So whether it’s for homeschooling, or just a better homework approach, this handy how-to guide and list of online tools and educational resources will be a welcome addition to support kids’ education now and in the future.
Before you begin learning at home, you’ll need to sort your stash of school supplies. Obviously pens and pencils are important – quality ballpoint pens don’t smear and lead pencils are perfect for students in lower primary school years. Grab a couple of exercise books or notepads to keep their work tidy and organised. Other kids' education essentials include a ruler, a pencil sharpener and an eraser. Primary schoolers, who often engage in creative hands-on activities, may need scissors, glue, coloured pencils and textas. For high school students, gather study essentials like highlighters, coloured pens, post-it notes and page markers. Store everything in a pencil case or arrange in a desk caddy/tray.
At a minimum you’ll need a laptop, Chromebook, iPad or tablet fitted with a webcam, as well as headphones and solid internet connection. Concerned about your WiFi signal? A plug-in adaptor or range extender might be the answer. For serious students who spend a lot of time at the screen, set them up with a wireless mouse, keyboard and monitor riser to reduce back and neck strain. A scanner and printer could also come in handy for printing off educational resources, such as worksheets, or uploading completed homework for teachers to mark.
You don’t have to be Archimedes to help your kids with maths lessons when they’re learning from home. The key? Work on enhancing those fundamental skills: counting, times tables, fractions, drawing shapes and recognising their properties. Gather the basics, like counters, dice, flashcards, wall charts and workbooks and they're all set to work on their number skills. Find educational toys and games, like puzzles, pattern blocks, clocks, play money and an abacus, as these are great for role-playing and incorporating mathematical concepts into their free play. Remember: no maths kit is complete without a calculator, a geometry set and grid paper.
Set them up with activities to practise their English essentials. A mini-whiteboard or wipe-clean writing books are ideal, or work on letter recognition and sight words with flashcards. Let them play with alphabet magnets, or puzzles, toys and games that promote spelling and reading. Search for educational resources such as workbooks that target key skills like handwriting or phonics. Yabayaba Resources come with an additional feel-good factor: a percentage of sales is donated to the Australian Literacy and Numeracy Foundation (ALNF).
Always encourage reading and writing for pleasure – fostering a love of books is so important. Whether it’s reading to themselves, a sibling, a parent, or even a teddy bear, it’s crucial children keep up with their reading. And don’t forget audiobooks – they count as well!
There are so many benefits to being outdoors, including the boost it gives to physical and mental health. Consider hosting a homeschooling session in your garden and encourage spontaneous learning opportunities: bug watching, leaf collecting, scavenger hunts and more. Try messy outdoor projects like bubbles, sand play and drawing with chalk to keep little minds active. And plan a sport lesson to get the blood pumping, all you need in your kit is a ball, a skipping rope and a couple of bean bags, or pop on an upbeat playlist and start a dance-off.
Parents need every trick in the book to help facilitate learning at home. While we’re not suggesting bribing your kids to sit down and do their work, we’re not not suggesting it… Studies show that rewards can lead to repeated practise, whereby good behaviours become habitual over time. Fill a box with mini treats and treasures and use them to incentivise along the way. Stock up on stickers, stamps, armbands, magnets, mini erasers and treats like jelly beans or lollies. Hang up a rewards chart to keep track of the wins.
Creative projects are essential for cognitive development and fine motor skills. A spot of painting or drawing is also excellent for soothing stress and allows kids to express themselves when they’re feeling overwhelmed. Art supplies to have on hand: a pad of thick art paper, a splash mat, art smocks, paint, paintbrushes, a palette/tray, crayons and colouring pencils. Scared about the mess? Opt for easy stress-free alternatives like playdough, threading, beads, magnetic tiles/blocks, felt play or scratch art. Some child-safe scissors and a big roll of masking tape can help transform your box of recycling into all sorts of exciting things – a car parking station, a train, a rocket, or even a robot.
Allow some time for free play each day, where kids can engage in independent activities and experimentation away from the structure and routine of their school-based learning. Most educators agree that play is prime – it allows them to explore, make their own decisions and practise life skills. Jigsaw puzzles, sticker books, building blocks and construction toys are all fab ideas, as are any toys or games that encourage imaginative play – dolls, dress-ups, kitchen play and toy shopping accessories. Board games and card games are a fun way to unwind as a family and spend some quality time together.