Resources for home-learning and helping children's understanding

27 March 2020

Recommended resources for home-learning and helping children's understanding

The current world-wide health situation poses lots of challenges for parents – how to explain events to children without overwhelming them, how to help children feel safe during a very uncertain time, and even how to educate children and support their learning in the home environment.

Here at I CAN we have shared some advice for parents about how they can talk to their children about coronavirus – read our tips here. Our speech and language therapists have also put together some fun activities that parents can try with their children at home to build essential speech, language and communication skills. We will be updating our website with new ideas on a regular basis, so do keep checking back for more tips and activities to come.

As well as our resources, there’s a lot more information and resources being shared online by a range of individuals and organisations. At a time like this, it’s easy to be overwhelmed with too much information, so we’ve pulled together a few examples of support and resources we’ve seen online that might make things easier for parents. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all that’s out there, but rather a few of our favourites that have cropped up online over the past few days.

Resources to help children understand coronavirus
  • In this video, Speech and Language Therapist Alex Kelly explains (with Makaton) what coronavirus is, and what the current advice is around it. A good resource for children with and without speech, language and communication needs, and people with autism or learning difficulties.
  • Here is a helpful story that can be used to explain coronavirus to children, and this story with visual supports can help explain what might happen if people need to go to hospital. 
  • To reassure young children who are anxious or worried, try reading them this story about Dave the Dog who is worried about coronavirus.
  • For older children, this social story from Carol Gray can help to explain pandemics and the coronavirus.
  • Talking Mats have produced this handy visual support to help explain social distancing to people with communication difficulties (but can also be helpful for explaining to children as well).
  • This visualisation about coronavirus can be used to support older children to understand why we are being told to stay at home during this time, as it shows each person spreading the virus to another 3 people if they don’t stay at home.
  • This video uses a diagram to compare the virus spreading between people during one month without social distancing, compared to one month with social distancing.
Activity ideas for young children

The DfE’s Hungry Little Minds and BBC’s Tiny Happy People websites are fabulous resources for families, with lots of helpful ideas of activities to do with young children at home to develop speech, language and communication skills.

Encouraging a love of reading and booksharing
  • The extra time at home gives a good opportunity to encourage reading and sharing books for pleasure. The Love My Books website has lots of ideas for sharing books at home, and this Twitter post has several links to websites, apps, and YouTube channels where children can listen to or watch stories being read. 
  • Audible are offering free unlimited streaming of hundreds of stories for children and families; a great way to encourage a love of stories in children who find reading difficult.
  • The Speech and Language Therapists at I CAN’s Dawn House school are sharing a Makaton story every day for children with speech, language and communication needs – find them each day by following I CAN’s Twitter feed. View the first one (Goldilocks and the Three Bears) here.
Games and home-based learning
  • Here is a handy resource that can be used in an indoor treasure hunt to help children learn new vocabulary and concepts – or make your own up!
  • If you can’t bring your children to the zoo, why not bring the zoo to them? Some zoos are livestreaming their animals to people around the world – have a look at Melbourne Zoo, Chester Zoo, Marwell Zoo, Edinburgh Zoo, and Dublin Zoo.
  • Ruth Miskin is live streaming RWI phonics lessons for parents to do at home with children. 
  • The Drama Geezers are sharing a drama activity a day on their YouTube channel and website – some of these are great for encouraging speech, language and communication skills as well as being fun! 
  • To help children stay active, Joe Wicks is doing a free “PE with kids” workout on his YouTube channel at 9am each morning. If you do the workouts together and talk about what you are doing at the same time, you’ll be developing your child’s vocabulary of action words as well.
Resources for children with SEND
  • Widget are offering free unrestricted access to Widget Online for 30 days, to make sure that symbol users have access to the systems and resources they need.

We hope this list gives you a starting point for some things to try with your children at home during this challenging time. Do keep checking the I CAN website for more tips and activities in the weeks to come.



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