Teaching resources

Home Learning Help

In these challenging times many parents and carers are teaching their children at home for the very first time, and often in difficult circumstances.

We have asked our team of teachers and education experts for advice on how you can approach home learning during the current crisis.

They share hints and tips on how to create the best learning environment for your children, the different ways that learners can demonstrate their work and how to approach teaching the same topic to children of different ages and abilities.

Reasons to be cheerful

You know your learner

As parent or carer you already possess valuable knowledge about your young people to help them during this time of lockdown. Maybe they simply cannot get going without their pens laid out in rainbow colour order. Perhaps they need a ‘second lunch’ at 2pm to see them through the afternoon. You know, better than anyone, what works best for you and your family so have confidence and roll with it.

You can make this work for you

You don’t have to be constrained by traditional school routines. If your learning doesn’t begin until 10am or it works best for you to take your daily exercise after lunch it’s ok. You can catch up with things later – no need to give yourself a detention!

There’s a lot of help

At English Heritage we’re doing everything we can to provide access to our expertise and resources to support you. Our teaching and learning resources webpage contains a wide range of free downloadable resources that have been developed by our team of qualified teachers, educational experts and historians, and have been designed to support learners of all ages and abilities. Use this material to complement any that you’ve got from your children’s school or elsewhere for a broad and varied home-learning experience.

Explore our teaching resources

10 Suggestions for smoother schooling

1. Plan for productivity

Time may be at a premium, especially if you’re working too. However, if you can, look through the work in advance, address any queries you might have and gather any resources needed. You’ll then be able to hit the ground running and maximise the learning portions of the day. Your youngsters should always be working harder than you, but being across things can help you guide them, reduces wasted time and the opportunity for excuses!

2. Create a space for learning

If you can, have a dedicated space for learning activity at home. This could just be the table where you eat dinner but it should ideally be consistent, temperate and conducive to stints of academic exercise. If it’s possible to find some space to display work, timelines, ideas, or questions to be answered. All can help maintain learning focus from day to day.

3. Promote a mindset for learning

It can be a tricky to maintain positivity in these challenging times but adopting a ‘can do’ attitude can certainly fortify the learning experience. For your children, particularly if transitioning from less mentally rigorous activity, allow time to ‘warm up’ their learning faculties. Start with activities securely in their comfort zone and then layer up to stretch and challenge them. Encourage by praising the process and progress made.

4. Expect achievement

Frame your expectations positively and be clear about the things they must do, should do and could do. Try to do this with awareness of your child’s values, aspirations and priorities. A shared sense of goals means you can be the supporter of ambition, not fall into the role of an omnipresent nag.

5. Be clear about success

Communicate plainly about the specific things you’ll be evaluating the success of the learning activity against. Be that the correct spelling of ten key words, the inclusion of light and shade in a painting or the use of eye contact when talking about the reasons Henry VIII broke away from the Roman Catholic Church. Three to five points of reference, regularly checked in on, can help keep learning on track and provide a core tick list for achievement. This should also be motivational and encourage self-responsibility for learning.

6. Consider the consequences

Decide in advance how you’re going to respond should ‘a situation’ arise. What will you say or do if work isn’t done as expected or attitude below par? Planning a response may seem daft but this isn’t the time to fall out with your nearest and dearest. Mitigating factors may be further magnified, so having a calm and considered response up your sleeve can help diffuse a potential catastrophe. Perspective is key.

7. Know your limits

Don’t berate yourself for not being an expert in all areas. Make the most of the help on offer and appreciate the opportunity to learn something new yourself alongside your child. Modelling how to solve a problem is a really valuable lesson to teach your children.

8.  Know when to be flexible

If your child is just not engaging or you can’t think because your neighbour is using lockdown to noisily remodel their garden, take a break. It’s not like you’re going anywhere for the time-being at least! Do something else for a while and come back to it with a fresh head.

9. Share the load

You might not be able to visit family outside of your own household but they can still help with the learning load. A call to a grandparent, for example, can be a great way to show off the fruits of the day’s learning, practise reading aloud or to discuss the challenges of carving a mortise and tenon joint into a bourbon biscuit when building Biscuit Henge.

...and remember

10. Look after yourself

You’re doing the best you can in difficult circumstances and no doubt juggling supporting learning with all the other things that come with daily life. Sharing your understanding about the importance of self-care is a great addition to any young person’s lockdown curriculum.

Creative Ways for Learners to Show What They Know

  • Role play with a parent, carer or sibling
  • Present a podcast or TED talk
  • Make a textbook page for younger children
  • Design a board game
  • Make a souvenir for the site they have been learning about
  • Create an artwork inspired by the subject
  • Write a song or poem
  • Create a stop motion animation
  • Explain as much as they can in 60 seconds
  • Perform an expressive dance

Learning together

Many of you are learning in family groups and have a mixture of ages or abilities to support. You could try approaching the same topic together but allow for some differences depending on age and ability. This might be through:

Support given

While some children will be happy to find out about a new topic by exploring a given webpage or book independently, others will need help working through the text or may need an alternative source suitable for a younger reading age. Depending on the number of learners in your household, you could pair up to tackle a topic.

Communications

You can vary the language you use, the questions you ask, the responses you give and how you feedback on their learning, in line with the level they’re working at.

Approach taken

Understanding a series of events may be as simple as talking through them in turn. Other children may find it more beneficial to draw them, act them out, use a series of freeze frames or put them into a rhyme.

Time given

Simply put, you may need to give some children more time to do something. Don’t  forget to allow for your children to process things and link to information to form a response. How long this takes will vary from individual to individual but when asking a question wait at least 5-10 seconds.

Outcome arrived at

You can choose different ways for your children to demonstrate their learning. For some this may be an illustrated storyboard of events, for others a comparative project looking at similar events. Going further, the events could be examined and analysed to explain a wider question or used to imagine an alternative scenario, leading to debate and decision. This could all be done together – see our Family Enquiry Topics below and Creative Ways to Show What You Know.

Family enquiry topics

All of the following questions can be researched as a family by children of different ages and abilities

  • What does the building of Stonehenge tell us about prehistoric people?
  • What can we learn about the Romans from Hadrian’s Wall?
  • Why did the Vikings raid Lindisfarne?
  • What was significant about the Synod of Whitby?
  • Why did William win the Battle of Hastings?
  • What was the impact of the Black Death on England?
  • Who were the winners and losers in the Wars of the Roses?
  • Why did Henry VIII break away from the Roman Catholic Church?
  • Was Elizabeth I justified in imprisoning her cousin for 19 years?
  • What caused Charles I to be imprisoned at Carisbrooke Castle?
  • Why has Iron Bridge become an international icon? 
  • Why were black people from the Caribbean imprisoned at Portchester Castle?
  • What can Osborne House tell us about Queen Victoria and her family?
  • What can we learn from Eltham Palace about Art Deco style?
  • In which era of history has Dover Castle been most significant?

Help to answer all of these questions can be found by exploring our Story of England and Histories webpages.

Two children dress up in historical costumes

Teaching history

History is an incredibly valuable subject to learn – it builds enquiry skills, fuels the imagination and helps children feel a sense of self in a wider context.

But some parents and carers may not feel confident in teaching history to their children.

We have gathered together advice from teachers, education experts and historians on how you can approach history as a subject. They share their hints and tips for how to convey a sense of time, how to interrogate sources and where to look for support on the different topics on the curriculum.

Read our guide to teaching history

Explore more

  • Teaching and Learning Resources

    We’re here to support your learning, whether you're a teacher looking to complement your lesson planning or a parent looking for guidance and advice with home learning.

  • Histories

    The places cared for by English Heritage span the story of England, from prehistory to the Cold War. Delve into our history pages to discover more about our sites.

  • History at Home

    You might not be able to get out and visit our historic sites, but we’re still here to help you discover the best stories from England’s past.

'step into englands story