With no school on the horizon for many children, online tutoring is no longer just a London phenomenon, it’s now essential to help harried parents across the globe.
Whether it’s trying to sign our children up for the best extracurricular activities (coding classes, anyone?) or getting them into the top schools, London parents have always had a reputation of leaving no stone unturned when it comes to finding the best resources, teachers and classes for their children.
Never has this skill been more useful than in our present situation, where online tutoring hasn’t just become a London-obsessed issue for those trying to ace their 11-plus exams (or even 7 or 8-plus) or GCSEs, but a daily reality for many parents trying to manage their children’s education while attempting to juggle the daily roster of our own work, homeschooling and maintaining our sanity.
While it’s unclear what exactly is happening with exams for younger children (GCSEs and A-levels should be going ahead in 2021, with kids in Years 10-12 expected to get some facetime with their teachers before the summer holidays), parents in Years 4 and 5 aren’t just thinking about 10-plus, 11-plus, grammar schools and selective state schools tests – they’re busily preparing their kids for them.
The online tutoring live streams, apps and resources below put expertise at parents’ fingertips – and also help give children the confidence to engage with and complete their work on their own.
P.S. No exams on the horizon? These are still useful, whether you’re keen to give the kids practical teaching for an hour via Zoom or ignite their interest in a new subject. Bonus: there are plenty of free resources, too.
Tutoring apps for kids
EasyA: Easy A has quickly become an indispensable tool in our household. The premise behind the maths app is simple: just take a photo of whatever question your child is struggling with, send it in and an Oxbridge-educated tutor will talk them through how to solve it, messaging them questions, explaining concepts and ensuring they understand each step in the problem.
Sessions typically last 30 minutes, but the tutors don’t hesitate to spend more time with the kids if required. The tutors can tackle anything from the basics through to GCSE-level problems. After a three-day trial, the app is £25 a month.
Khan Academy Kids: This free educational programme has seen a mega boom during lockdown, and it’s no wonder why: with a selection of cute characters to help engage kids, the award-winning Khan Academy has everything from online books and activities to inspire early readers to maths lessons in the app. Designed for kids aged 2-7, this is a great resource for primary-aged children.
Brainly: This online knowledge-sharing community can be useful for parents who are stuck on a homework problem (and don’t want to admit it to the kids). Get help from students and teachers, on everything from ratios to French, chemistry to SATs.
Virtual tutoring services
Planet BOFA: One for the 11-plus set, Planet BOFA is an online tutoring system which combines learning and testing in a personalised way to suit each individual child.
Created by the man behind Bond assessment books, Andrew Baines, this programme is flexible and can be started at any time – BOFA works out how much preparation your child needs depending on when they start, when the exam is and how quickly they they master the work. Parents rave that it’s a winner for getting their child into their secondary school of choice and yes, both verbal and non-verbal reasoning are part of the programme. You can try it out for free, and it starts from £7.99 a month.
MyTutor: MyTutor offers one-to-one virtual tutoring, across a range of subjects and ages, with hour-long sessions starting from £18. All tutors are from leading UK universities and are knowledgeable in their fields. Plus, there are a loads of online resources and study guides for kids to use.
MyTutor has also launched a free Online School supporting GCSE students, which includes daily live group tutorials on key GCSE subjects and pre-recorded YouTube videos in Maths, English and the three Sciences.
The Golden Circle: With 150 teachers offering expertise on a range of subjects, Golden Circle can guide your primary child through the early years curriculum, secondary school exams and all the way up to A levels and university entrance interviews. Classes are delivered online via Skype.
JK Educate: JK Educate offers Skype tutoring to students from Year 1 onwards, and can help with anyone looking to do 11+ revision, GCSEs and A-Levels, too.
Tutorful: Find-a-tutor-site Tutorful usually matches students with face-to-face tutors – and has moved to online sessions during lockdown. There’s 1:1 learning, a virtual whiteboard and shared documents and screens.
Holland Park Tuition and Education: From early-years classes to extra-curriculars like cooking, comic-book making and choir, through to anyone who needs 11+ or GCSE tuition for their children, Holland Park Tuition and Education is now a virtual hub.
There’s also a comprehensive curriculum of online classes for 12 and ups who want to brush up on their Latin or get to grips with medical ethics. Sign up for a taster class for £5.
Online learning platforms
The Maths Factor: Carol Vorderman’s The Maths Factor, matched to the UK Curriculum, is now free for children who need to brush up on their times tables or fractions.
EdPlace: An on-the-go learning platform that reinforces what kids have been learning and tests them on their knowledge and progress, EdPlace rewards kids with points and badges and gives children – and parents – access to thousands of activity sheets online. Sign up for a free account that includes a range of activities as well as specific test prep geared towards 11-plus and GCSE students.
Mayku: Mayku Teach gives children a passion for STEAM subjects through online lessons and resources, as well as practical tools – the Mayku Formbox, a rather impressive piece of kit that can be used to explain a variety of maths lessons, like material properties and percentages (and it also makes confections). It’s a pricey piece of kit, but the online resources are all free – just sign up with your email and get your kids creating.
Outschool: We’ve signed our kids up to a range of Outschool classes, from Lego sessions to US history to Greek myths, since lockdown began, and we’re thoroughly impressed. Not only are the topics fun and engaging and the teachers well-informed, but children also get a chance to socialise with peers in their age group, in countries around the world. Classes are available from children 3-18, from $5-$10 a class. Summer camps are now kicking off…
Click here for more information on Outschool
BBC Bitesize Daily: A comprehensive, 14-week learning programme for kids from Y1-Y10, with a twist: kids won’t just be learning all about English, Maths, History and Science – they’ll have teachers like Sir David Attenborough, Jodie Whittaker, Danny Dyer, Professor Brian Cox and Mabel.
Oak National Academy: The government-backed learning from home programme features hour-long vids for kids from Reception onwards, teaching them across a range of subjects. Schedule their day like a school day, or pick and choose the subjects they need extra practice in.
Varsity Tutors: The US company Varsity Tutors has launched a Virtual School, with live daily classes for kids, as well as flashcards, parent guides and 1:1 help for anyone who needs it. Many of the classes, from Wildlife Creature Camp sessions to creative writing, are free.