Having kids at home constantly makes for some interesting challenges. From homeschooling to leisure time, suddenly there’s a lot more to think about. Technology can come to your aid, and here we’ve rounded up the best ways to keep your kids entertained while you’re stuck at home.
We’ll keep adding to this list, but feel free to send in your own ideas if there’s anything we’ve missed.
Safe media streaming
Inevitably, being at home so much means that kids are likely to watch more TV than they perhaps used to. As useful as streaming services are for keeping kids entertained, it’s doing it safely that counts. Fortunately, the major services have methods of locking down content so that your kids can only watch shows that are right for their age range.
With Sky Q, there’s a Sky Q app for kids so that they can watch on-demand shows on their tablets. If you’re using the main Sky Q system, look out for the Kids Safe mode that lets you lock down the main box or any mini boxes you have for child-friendly channels and recordings only.
If you’re using Netflix, you can add profiles for each child to filter the content they get. However, kids can switch profiles and watch through yours, so activity has to be policed. Alternatively, you can add PIN-locks to mature content that works across all profiles using the Netflix Parental Controls.
Amazon Prime Video has some of the best parental controls, letting you adjust PIN-protection on a per-device basis. You can do this either through the Amazon Prime Parental Controls app for some devices, such as smart TVs; if you have Amazon devices, such as a Fire TV Stick, you can access parental controls directly from there.
Disney Plus also has profiles, letting you set up child-friendly ones for the little people in your home. There’s no option to lock profiles from access, so kids can switch to your profile, so make sure that you police usage after setting up Disney Plus parental controls.
Get into reading
With less opportunity to get out into the real world to buy books, the Amazon Kindle Kids Edition could well help you out. This model comes with a year’s subscription to Kids Unlimited, which gets you access to thousands of free books, and two-year worry-free guarantee (handy for clumsy kids).
As well as being able to download the free books, you can buy books from the Kindle store using an adult account and copy the titles to your kids’ profiles. This gives you a safe, guarded way of giving your kids thousands of titles to read from, which is particularly handy if you’ve got enthusiastic readers in your home.
If you buy an Amazon Fire Tablet Kids Edition, you get the same access to books on that tablet, plus your kids get safe access to your Amazon Prime Video content, too.
Amazon Prime Video
Make the most of your 30-day free trial and enjoy Amazon's extensive library of film and TV shows, including Amazon Original's like Star Trek: Picard, coming on top of the perks you get from your Prime membership.
Expand your learning
There’s a huge variation in what schools are providing children, with some giving online interactive lessons, and others just a handful of PDF worksheets to download. You don’t have to be limited by what your school can offer, as there are currently a load of free resources to choose from.
Century.tech is an AI-powered learning resource that gives your kids online lessons, identifying gaps in knowledge to help them progress. You can currently get the English, Maths and Science resources for free.
Budding engineers will find the James Dyson Foundation challenges handy. These let you use everyday household products (cardboard, balloons, bottles and the like) to perform a series of experiments and build some fun models.
Got any kids learning to play the guitar at home? Fender Play is currently offering three months free for its interactive lessons, which could be handy even if the local music teacher is offering online lessons.
There’s also a wealth of online resources available through Facebook. We’re sure that you’ve got your favourites, already, but some of the highlights we’ve found are English with Holly, the Western Approaches HQ, which offers some excellent WW2 lessons, and the live nature sessions with the Iver Environment Centre.
If you want to watch the Facebook streams on your TV, the Facebook Watch app is a great way to do this, available for Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV (4th gen onwards), Android TV, Samsung Smart TV and Xbox One.