Over 14 million students in South Africa – from primary school to university - have been confined to their homes since Wednesday, 18 March 2020.

However, this is not an extended vacation. Being quarantined at home with parents, siblings, and possibly extended family members due to the COVID-19 pandemic is not the traditional definition of a holiday.

Parents and caregivers have come to realise that their weekdays now need to be organised around attending to their children’s academic progress, all the while working from home.

Balancing work responsibilities with family responsibilities has become an even greater challenge.

Mid-year exams are expected to take place in South Africa in June. Although the exact dates are not 100% certain, it is important to ensure that the knowledge gained during the first few months of the school year will not slip away.

Your objective now should be to consolidate the knowledge that you've gathered.

You, or the children in your care, will benefit greatly by continuing to study during the lockdown to ensure that the grades you – or they – receive when things return to normal will be more than satisfactory.

Certain schools and universities have already moved their lessons to online portals. But are there any online study resources available to all?

Finding Online Classes

The routine of studying at home can tire students out, and using an app to revise will help to break the monotony. It is definitely more enjoyable and more accessible for both primary and secondary school students to use a smartphone, tablet or other connected device as part of their distance learning programme.

Maths lessons, English lessons, Accounting or Afrikaans lessons have never been more fun than with tutoring applications. Many apps are completely free and their content is suitable for use with small screens.

Apps to Use for Online Courses During Quarantine

No website or app can fully replace your school programme, and the educational resources presented in this post are to be used in addition to lessons given by your school, as part of their official distance learning strategy.

Applications to Help Pre-School Children Learn

Caution: It is best to limit the screen time for toddlers to no more than 15-20 minutes. It is not good for their brain development to be left in front of a smartphone or tablet screen for too long.

The Numberland app is intended to help an audience aged between 3 and 5 years to learn numbers. It is completely free, and your child will not be inactive and passive using it like they might be when watching a cartoon.

Be sure to accompany your child during the exercises which were developed in accordance with the Montessori method.

You might consider the Lola Alphabet Train app to help children aged between 3 and 7 years to learn the letters of the alphabet. The child’s progress will be marked with an entertaining animation of a train. They will gradually learn to read words and, since the alphabets of five different languages are available, there is the possibility to expand into one or more foreign languages. Again, make sure that you supervise your child’s learning on your connected device.

little girl using tablet
Ensure that online activities for young children are interactive. | Source: Unsplash

Learning Applications for Primary School Learners

Applications targeted at primary school children, offer help with a diverse approach in order to keep the child interested and focused. One such app, DragonBox Big Numbers, allows them to learn Maths in fun, new ways that are very different to the type of lessons they would have at school. With this app, they will learn more about large numbers and how to do addition and subtraction.

Sight Word Superhero is a great app designed to help children learn to read sight words in English. It is interactive and very entertaining for younger children. You are able to personalise the experience by targeting those words and areas where you child most needs to improve.

Learning Apps for High School Students

High school students are more used to working with online technology; however, you should still limit their screen time so as not exhaust them, or yourself. Encourage them to work on paper as much as possible. 30 to 45 minutes on an online application per day is reasonable!

The World Geography quiz game can help you improve your knowledge of geography. The main benefit of this resources is that it spans several subjects, so using the app will help you improve your general knowledge to better prepare for Grade 11 and Matric exams.

Students will be required to identify national flags and locate capital cities. They will also be asked to confirm the following about specific countries: the land area, national religion, population size, head of state, currency, official language, GDP, etc. The questions increase in difficulty as you progress.

The DuoLingo, Mosa Lingua, and Memrise apps are great for those students who need to practise foreign languages. These apps all promote continuous learning, which leads to better mastery of the target language. Univoice is also great, as it uses music to help the student learn in an interactive way. Through repetition, Univoice priorities long-term retention.

Websites Offering Online Courses

Websites for Primary School Children

The following are just some of the websites which offer homework help and online learning for young children.

K5 Learning is a Maths resource targeted at children in pre-school to Grade 5. It was created “by parents for parents”, and offers thousands of Maths worksheets available for free download.

Oxford Owl for Home is a free service focused on Math and reading for primary school children. It offers Maths games and over 250 free e-books, along with great advice for parents.

Education City provides help with languages, Maths, and Science at primary school level and is aimed at children between the ages of 3 and 12. It offers interactive games, which make the learning experience fun, however, it is a paid service.

You could also check out the curriculum-aligned science and Maths textbooks offered by Siyavula for Grades 4 and above. These books can be read online or downloaded free of charge.

Websites for High School Students

girl using phone and laptop on bed
There are numerous online learning resources for high school students. | Source: Unsplash

Older learners require specialised support, and there are websites available to help them revise and improve their understanding of certain subjects.

Siyavula is a great resource which can help learners in Grades 10 to 12 master Physical Science, and those in Grades 8 to 12 excel at Mathematics. Student’s responses are checked instantly and they receive step-by-step guidance on how to approach problems.

As mentioned above, Siyavula offers free textbooks, which are open resource that can be downloaded, copied and shared.

Whether you need homework help, are preparing for exams, or simply seek general practise, the Siyavula site is worth a visit.

MathsBuddy is another good option for online maths lessons. This Maths learning website was developed by teachers, and lessons are based on the South African curriculum for Grades 1 to 12. This means that all areas from basic addition and subtraction to quadratic equations are covered. MathsBuddy offers audio-visual Maths lessons, interactive questions, Maths games, and so much more.

Need online help to prepare for your Matric finals?

If you need personalised support during this difficult period, why not search for a tutor online? 95% of Superprof’s online tutors offer their first session for free, so this is a great opportunity to establish whether or not the tutor is the right fit for you, without the risk of losing any money.

Temporary Distance Learning Resources

Government-Sponsored Multi-Media Learner Support Package

The Department of Basic Education and the SABC have created COVID-19 Learner Support package, which broadcasts lessons in subjects such as Maths, English and Physical Science for learners in grades 10 to 11. There is also content available for those in the Early Childhood Development phase.

Lessons are broadcast across SABC TV channels and certain radio stations you can consult the lesson schedule on the Department of Basic Education’s website and social media platforms.

Managing Online Lessons During Confinement

notebooks and computer keyboard
Ensure that you take regular breaks from the screen. | Source: Unsplash

Ensure that academic exercises are broken up with physical and creative activities, and some relaxation time. You should also take a look at these simple strategies that can be implemented to help you make the most of your distance learning programme.

It is easy to fall into a habit of excessive screen use during lockdown, but this would not be good for any child’s development or well-being.

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A South African in France who loves to travel and discover new cultures, is passionate about photography, and who is happiest near the ocean.