Features / coronavirus

Surviving at home with the kids

By ellie pipe, Wednesday Mar 25, 2020

The fear is real as the credits roll on Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Already four films down in a series that is currently keeping the peace for at least a couple of hours each day – what next?

As schools across the country are closed to all but children of key workers, parents and carers are facing the reality of becoming educators, entertainers, experts on staying sane while social-distancing and so much more, with many having to still somehow fit in full-time work.


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Bristol24/7 has compiled a guide to local and national resources to help get you through the weeks ahead and try to make the most of some enforced time at home.

Unprecedented as these circumstances are, the advice is to try and stick to a routine as far as possible – then even if things descend into chaos by midday, at least you’ve tried. Most schools are providing resources to help people continue their children’s education at home, but there is also a wealth of additional help out there and many providers are making their materials available for free during the coronavirus outbreak.

Bristol-based not-for-profit company Learning With Parents is one such organisation. Its Maths With Parents website covers the entire maths curriculum from age three to 11. CEO Tom Harbour adds: “We are also bringing together national education charities to ensure we all give schools the best possible support with home learning at this challenging time.”

Scholastic has created a free learn from home website, while Seneca Learning is an online platform covering Key Stage two to A-level, with information and questions to help revision, as well as YouTube videos and podcasts. Twinkl and White Rose Maths are just a couple more that have made their resources available for free for a period, and a number of private tutors and teachers around Bristol are advertising online tutorials.

YouTube has a plethora of educational aids. Rebecca Fitch runs Science with Bexy, a YouTube channel aimed at getting students more engaged in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

Classes for babies and young children are also venturing into the virtual world during this time of social distancing, with rhyme time sessions and more.

Geri McKenna runs a Debutots franchise in Brislington that usually hosts interactive storytelling and dramatic play classes for youngsters from the age of six months to seven-year-olds.

She is transferring all classes online, with options of pre-recorded sessions and also live parent and child classes using Zoom, and charging a small fee to access these to keep the business running throughout this tough time.

Photo three – Debutots classes are available live or pre-recorded online. Photo courtesy of Geri McKenna

Ruth Bradford, the founder, owner and creator of The Little Black and White Book Project has made all of her ebook titles free to download. Her company specialises in illustrated black and white book, flashcard and ebook series, aimed at inspiring the next generation of animal lovers and conservationists from an early age.

If there’s ever a time to think outside the box when it comes to vaguely educational entertainment, this is it. Science experiments with pasta and sweets may go down a treat, introduce the joys of homemade dough and create your own Morph, or build the ultimate low-polluting car out of cardboard.

Charlie King, 11, gets conducts a science experiment with marshmallows and spaghetti in his kitchen. Photo provided by Matt King

Charity Surfers Against Sewage is running free live talks in Instagram for children and adults wanting to learn more about marine life, the Scouts have compiled a handy list of things to do while at home, or try out a virtual tour of museums across the globe.

The Scrapstore in St Werburgh’s has put together special bundles of scrap and craft materials that are available via an online shop. There is also the option to make a donation for a scrap bag or box for a family in need.

Louise Taylor, events and marketing officer for the Scrapstore, says: “Our hope is that these bundles will support parents and carers, entertain cooped-up children, lift family mood and energy levels, inspire curiosity, creativity and playfulness all round.

“We remain committed to reuse, art and play in these challenging times, and we would love to see how you’re using and enjoying our materials. Your ideas could help to inspire other families – please tag us @childrensscrapstore / @scrapstorebrist to share your creations.”

Bristol music teacher Ben England is running a quarantine choir, with daily YouTube videos, there are even daily meditation sessions available for parents and children, as well as hula hooping classes, hideout ideas, DIY for youngsters, reading and role-play activities. NaNoWriMo also has a young writers programme for budding scribes.


It’s not just education and activities parents and carers have to worry about. With play parks across Bristol now closed and routines thrown off-kilter, this is an unsettling and scary time for many children.

For Tara Miran, looking after her three daughters mental wellbeing and fitness has already become an important part of the day during this lockdown period.

“We’re working through activities, such as ‘wake and shake’ and stretching sessions in the mornings,” she tells Bristol24/7.

“We’re also using everyday activities such as baking to enhance our mathematics and teamwork. The girls have got creative and started a daily evening showcase of ‘The Sunny Sisters’, where they perform musical shows and routines.

“Balance and routine in our daily schedule is important, but that also comes with lots of doses of fun and family time (and maybe some hurdles)! These are the days where I hope my children will look back on and remember that we came together, loved and protected one other and others in our community, through this whirlwind.”

Astera, three, Arianne, five, and Ashti, seven, doing some stretching exercises while on lockdown. Photo courtesy of Tara Miran

Getting some fresh air and exercise is important to both physical and mental wellbeing. Under the latest government measures, families can still go out once a day for a walk, run or bike ride as long as they keep a sensible distance from others (at least two metres).

There are also plenty of ways to let off steam at home. Jane Rogers of Jumpstart is running workout sessions – from stretch and flex to high intensity training – for parents and kids via Facebook Live, while fitness coach Joe Wicks is running daily live online PE classes for children. If all else fails, crank up the radio and turn your home into a carefree coronavirus rave for all the family.

Main photo of Frankie Stinchcombe, aged three-and-a-half, who is getting creative with cardboard while at home. Photo provided by Mark Stinchcombe

Read more: Bristol’s park facilities to close in face of coronavirus threat

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