20 Free Resources to Support Your Child's Education

by - Wednesday, January 16, 2013

20 free education resources for school children
Are you looking for ways to support your child's learning journey without having to break the bank? 

With increased pressure on achievement and inclusion, most parents feel it nescessary to help their children learn and develop outside of school hours. Private tuition and subscription-based learning sites can offer excellent solutions, but unfortunately many of us don't have the funds available to pay for such services.

Luckily, supporting your child's education has never been easier! There are multitudes of free resources, apps for smartphones and printable worksheets to help our children build upon their school-based (or home!) education.

In this post, I'd like to introduce you to 20 of the best free resources we use to support learning at home, from discovering the fundamentals of the National Curriculum through to exciting science videos and educational games for smartphones.

1. The National Curriculum

A basic understanding of the National Curriculum is crucial for parents in supporting their child's education. Learning about the different key stages and subject-based expectations helps us to understand how and why school-based learning is presented.

This guide offers an easily digested overview of the National Curriculum. For more detailed articles about primary and secondary education, check out this page from the Department for Education and follow the links through to different key stages and subject material.

Tip: Not all subjects covered in the National Curriculum are compulsory. Try to find out which subjects are covered by your child's school to ensure you access the most important materials for your child.

2. BBC Schools for Parents

This is an excellent resource covering all aspects of our children's education, from early years learning right through school and even college!

Particularly helpful pages include How to help with Primary reading, maths and homework, and the sections covering the National Curriculum.

3. BBC Bitesize

Following on from the Parents pages, be sure to check out BBC Bitesize, which offers activities and resources for all school aged children, primary right through to GCSE students and beyond.

4. Mumsnet Learning

Despite being an avid member of Mumsnet, I didn't know about the Mumsnet Learning section until quite recently!

This is a particularly useful resource for parents of Primary school aged children, with pages of helpful information for parents in addition to activities and interactive resources for children.

We particularly enjoy the free home education resources and tips for learning outdoors.

5. Pearson Learn at Home

Pearson works in partnership with Mumsnet Learning, and offers even more free resources on the official website.

Most of the content here is aimed at young primary school children, including a couple of free apps to help with phonics and number recognition in addition to tips for parents.

6. Talking Point

If your child needs some support with their communication skills, or even if you would just like to check their progress, you'll find excellent resources on the Talking Point website.

All aspects of communication are explained in this useful website which offers explanations for key terms you may not be familiar with in addition to providing access to support when you need it.

7. Words for Life

Supported by the National Literacy Trust, Words for Life provides excellent advice and resources from birth through to the end of primary school.

The site is sectioned into age groups, providing activities for parents to enjoy with their children, advice from top authors and recommended reads for all abilities.

8. Free SATs Papers (900+)

Does your child need a little extra preparation for their SAT papers? This fantastic resource offers hundreds of SATs papers from (the previously used) KS1 tests through to KS3 and even optional tests.

All of these papers are 100% free to download and use, helping students prepare at home for their forthcoming papers and offering parents a useful insight into how and why their children sit these national tests.

9. Primary Resources

One of the oldest and most comprehensive online resources for primary education, this site offers activities and lesson plans covering virtually every subject. 

While aimed at primary school teachers, the immense variety of resources here prove invaluable for helping with troublesome subjects and providing stimulation during school holidays.

10. Mrs Pancake

Mrs. Pancake'swebsite provides "brilliant educational dodads for teachers, parents and children". It is a beautifully designed resource with loads of free printable goodies for KS1 primary aged children. 

We particularly like the make and do section which features a huge selection of printable craft materials for virtually every occasion.

11. TES Primary Teaching Resources

TES is the largest network of teachers in the world. This fantastic resource site provides free lesson plans, printable worksheets, interactive activities and lots lots more!

To access the valuable resources on TES you will need to become a member, though registration is fast and free. 

By searching the vast database, you'll easily be able to find suitable material to support what yor child is learning at schol, or try browsing the many collections if you're stuck for ideas. We loved the Where the Wild Things Are themed resources (incidentally, Princess' favourite book) which should give you an idea of the quality and imagination of what TES has to offer.

12. Free Technology for Teachers

Richard Byrne maintains this invaluable blog for educators which details technology-based apps and resources to enhance learning. 

While aimed at teachers, parents can benefit greatly from the site by discovering new and exciting avenues for supporting school-based learning.

If you're not sure where to start, check out the favourite resources page which lists the most popular posts and provides links to some excellent resource lists.

13. TED Ed

Subtitled "Lessons worth sharing", TED Ed provides subject-based videos which are as entertaining as they are educational. 

Perhaps better suited to older children, you can find all matter of subjects covered from science to mathematics, literature and even learning skills. 

14. Education 4 Free

This site offers free interactive educational maths software which is suitable from early-years learning right through to GCSE level. 

Most software is designed to work in web browsers (be it a PC or laptop, online or off), though there are a couple of free apps available for Android and iPhone/iPad too which are ideal for engaging through more interesting technology!

15. Topmarks Parents Resources

Topmarks offers a series of articles aimed at parents who want to encourage their children to learn through engaging activities at home.

Much of the material here is aimed at parents of younger children, though there are pages to help with the transition to secondary school too. We found the article featuring recommended toys and games for children to be very useful (which also offers explanation for how these toys can be used for engaging educational activity).

This science based site offers some fascinating (and wholly engrossing) insights about how stuff works!

While the site is not based around school curricula, the presentation of articles is both exciting and educational. I imagine it's best suited to tweens and teenagers, though even as an adult I get lost cliking through all the interesting pages on this site.

Be sure to check out the Stuff Mom Never Told You podcasts and Stuff to Blow Your Mind!

This "encyclopedia" by Tim Hunkin features cartoon covering virtually any subject imaginable!

Originally published in the Observer between 1973 and 1987, you might describe these as old-school infographics which are perfect for kid to learn fascinating facts about history, science, music, language and much more.

There's even a section on experiments (whose child wouldn't want to discover how to make things jump out of a cup of tea?).

18. Ellen McHenry's Basement Workshop

This site is a wonderful treasure trove of "educational inventions" which provides all manner of free printable projects.

Maintained by illustrator and home-schooler, Ellen McHenry, the Workshop offers material for a wide range of subjects (even Latin!). You're sure to find interesting projects and games for rainy days and holidays - just be sure to have lots of ink in your printer!

Khan Academy is one of my absolute favourite online learning resources. Ever.

The site is particularly useful for secondary-school age children to learn (and progress) with mathematics using the free exercise dashboard which delivers video-based lessons on everything from simple addition to Calculus, tests to ensure comprehension and even lets you track your progress!

A vast variety of video-lessons on other subjects and interactive learning aids are also available, though progress in subjects outside mathematics can't currently be monitored.

I've saved the best until last, since in my opinion The Children's University is a fantastic (mostly free) resource which will help your child develop their knowledge and experience outside the classroom and reward them with recognition, certificates and more.

For those who haven't heard of The Children's University, this is a nationwide scheme which is managed locally through a network of 80 "universities" for children aged 7-14 (and often slightly younger, with parental supervision). 

Members are issued with a passport in which hours spent at approved "learning destinations" can be recorded. At various milestones, children are awarded with certificates to show how far they have progressed on their learning journey, ranging from a Bronze Award (for 30 hours of learning) through to Graduate, Doctorate and even Fellowship level (930-1000 hours). 

Learning Destinations vary widely across areas, often including after school clubs, Scouts and Brownies, Museums and Libraries, sport venues and other centres for our-of-school learning activities. Many schools participate in the scheme (which I believe would be the ideal form of membership).

If your child's school is not currently adopting the Children's University scheme, be sure to check for your local Children's University - you may be able to get membership from your local council or library (as we did for Princess).

Strictly speaking, membership to the Children's University may not be 100% free - in some areas there is an initial £2 charge for the Passport, plus not all activities and centres provided locally are free (though a great many are). But while I hesitated to include this in my list of free ways to support you child's education, I am so thrilled by the scheme and the benefits it offers for children that I felt it simply had to be included!

Inspiration for this post

I was inspired to write this list after reading Being a Mummy's article about an education strategy for her kids in which she makes some excellent suggestions for resources which have helped her children become more confident learners. It reminded me of the many bookmarked sites we use regularly for homework help and to inspire Princess outside school, so I decided to share the best resources for Glamumous readers to enjoy too.

Can you add any more great resources to this list?

I'm always on the lookout for educational resources and would be thrilled if Glamumous readers could recommend any more sites in the comments below. If we collect enough I'd love to write a follow-up post to share the excellent websites, apps and free schemes available in the UK so that other parents can enjoy them with their children too.

Image credit: Pink Sherbert Photography, via Flickr

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  1. Thanks for linking to me, really useful stuff here I wish I had read it before I spent £100 on one site with its resources which I now find are not all that great for the money! :) x

    1. You're most welcome, your post gave me a lot of food for thought!

      I don't blame you for signing up to the premium sites though - being able to track and monitor progress is a benefit most of the free sites don't offer. With Princess we're beginning to keep a home-learning diary so we can keep track of what we've done and areas that need a bit more work. At the moment we're doing times tables and punctuation, so are able to have checklists to tick off when Princess feels confident, though not sure how we'll do that with more complicated stuff later on!

  2. Thank you for such a generous, well researched article. Just brilliant!! I was at a competitive school where my classmates were tutored. As a child, i just thought I was thick as I was so much slower than they were in understanding everything. I just want to be supportive, ensuring my child practices what she's learning at school for deeper understanding.