Taking a look at the myriad of remote learning options for Early Years

    Published: 06 May 2020

    The Department for Education (DfE) and The Oak National Academy have released helpful guidance and online learning tools to supporting remote learning activities during lockdown. The full list can be found here:   

    DfE guidance

    Oak National Academy website

    HfL Early Years team have reviewed each recommended DfE website and the lesson content from The Oak National Academy to support you in making more informed decisions about the type of remote learning you are providing for your children. The details of this can be found below. Before you take a look at that, it is important to make some key considerations about the way in which you want to engage with your pupils and families.

    Key considerations:

    Do all families have access to ICT and for those that do, are you considering how much remote learning is being accessed online?

    Some resources do not require access to the internet or ICT. It is important to note that there are a variety of resources that can be printed so that we manage the amount of screen time Early years children are having. These are indicated below with reference to each DfE recommended website.

    Can parents/carers print at home or do you need to provide printed resources?

    Consider how the safe exchange of printed resources can take place. Could you leave a box outside your school that parents/carers can safely access? Can you post resources? Do you have an online learning platform where parents/carers can access resources and indicate to you what they may like you to print for them as helpful learning aides at home?

    How are you providing information to parents/carers about what to use within recommended age appropriate websites?

    Consider how you are presenting materials to parents/carers. Think about the language being used. For example, will all parents/carers understand? Do you need to provide further guidance? Are you giving guidance via video, social media, written instructions or phone calls? Is this accessible to those who have English as an additional language, those with special educational needs or parents/carers that may need extra support with their literacy skills.

    Are there any additional resources you could provide to enhance learning?

    For example, do you have sets of Numicon, multi-link, digit cards, scissors, paper, etc. that you could lend to parents/carers if required. 

    Top Tips

    • Think about the quantity of activities sent home. Parents/carers can often feel overwhelmed and assume they are required to work through it all. Ensure messaging is clear.

    • Ensure parents/carers also understand the balance of play and learning – could you provide a short video clip on the importance of learning through play?

    • Could you ‘teach’ some of the content remotely yourself using technology? This could be helpful to set the children a task or challenge that is play-based. Children like seeing familiar adults

    • Consider how children, parents/carers are recording learning. It doesn’t always have to be written. Suggest using photos to share active learning that might happen spontaneously.

    • When providing activity ideas, include guidance to parents /carers, giving them alternative options that link with their own children’s interests. Highlighting that the process, rather than the product, is important.

    • Reassure parents/carers about children’s responses to online lessons or apps. Children may struggle to engage with an unfamiliar online teacher. Consider the length of activities/videos and whether further guidance on expectations is required.

    • Provide information about ‘What to Expect When’ for parents to learn more about children’s stages of development  

    • Reassure parents/carers that children are at different stages in learning. The remote learning is a suggestion and offers ideas. If they feel the activity is too difficult or too easy, they can adapt them to suit their child. Ensure you are available to answer questions or have some suggestions ready to differentiate tasks.

    • Convey to parents/carers that playing and talking with their children is the most important learning activity they can do.

    Further support

    Herts for Learning have also provided additional home learning support through their blogs which you can access here: Herts for Learning Early Years Blogs. Your district Early Years advisor is available for telephone and email support and can also offer remote visits to support you during this time.

    Our partner EPIC Early Years is providing free daily home learning activities that parents/carers can access. All activities are planned using resources that may be found in the home. There are also various videos on topics such as phonics and early reading aimed at parents/carers to explain how children learn through play. Their Facebook page can be found here for you to share.

    DfE recommended websites

    Below is a table which provides some insight to the DfE recommended online resources.


    There are many recommended free resources for phonics, some with purchasable additional apps. It is vital that parents/carers are aware of which phonics scheme is used in your school with their child. This is to mitigate any risk that may confuse children should parents/carers select an unfamiliar scheme, use any incorrect phoneme pronunciation or pitch their phonics learning at a level that they are not yet working at. With this in mind it is essential that parents/carers have a clear understanding of which stage their child is working within.


    Name & link to resource Overview Suggested additional resources your school could provide Is ICT required? Is a subscription required?

    Floppy’s Phonic Sounds

    Phases 2-6 reception – KS1

    This website is aimed at teachers and leaders and not accessible to parents/carers. The resources are accessible to schools that may have an existing account. The free resources are posters aimed at supporting teachers with the teaching sequence used in this scheme.
    If you use this scheme in school you may wish to share some of the accessible content via your subscription. Yes Yes

    Jolly Phonics

    Phases 2-6 some nursery children and reception – KS1

    There is a parent section specifically for school closures. There is a parent/teacher guide that explains the teaching sequence used with the scheme. This includes detail such as, the actions used for each phoneme. There are also purchasable resources by age. YouTube video links enable parents/carers to listen to the correct phonemes. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    You may wish to provide guidance on which video to watch according to the age and stage of individual children. Yes No

    Letterland Phonics

    Phases 2-6 Some nursery children and reception – KS1

    All phonemes can be heard correctly on the website.  An easy tab on the website for "At home" followed by a letter sounds parent/carers’ guide. There is also a series of 10 Apps that they can access for each character’s story book. Apps are 99p each. As children get older there are also the following Apps available: Word builder; Rainbow Writing; Quick Dash and Fix it Phonics. There is access to lots of Letterland songs. Free downloads are available when subscribing to the newsletter. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    Schools should think carefully before recommending Apps that require parents/carers to purchase content as this is something that may not be accessible to all families. Yes No, but if you subscribe to the newsletter additional downloads are available.

    Letters & Sounds

    Phases 1 - 6 nursery – KS1

    Descriptions of each phase for parents/carers with supporting free activities. Particularly useful for nurseries and children working within phase 1, although works through to phase 6. Phase 1 activities for parents/carers require some resources but many can be carried out at home with guidance from teachers. Video content, including daily Letters and Sounds lessons, is now also available here.

    Children will need a supporting adult to access this content

    You may wish to provide some resources to support activities at home to complement learning, in particular for phase 1. Parents may find the HfL Supersonic phonic cards helpful. Not all. Activities can be sent to parents/carers. No

    Phonics Bug

    Phases 2-6 some nursery children and reception-KS1

    There are some free resources available but schools will need to use their existing login details.
    You may wish to provide additional guidance on which phonemes to focus on. Yes Yes

    Read, Write, Inc

    Phases 1-6 nursery – KS1

    Daily lesson videos on YouTube are differentiated by age. Set 1 lessons for Nursery, Reception and new to English and Set 2 lessons for Years 1 & 2. Children are encouraged to engage with the teacher and repeat sounds back. Three times a week there are stories being read. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    You may wish to provide additional guidance on which videos to focus on. Yes No

    Sound Discovery

    Phases 2-6 Some nursery children and reception – KS1

    This scheme is purchased content only via school subscription. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.

    You may wish to provide additional guidance on which phonemes to focus on.

    Yes Yes


    Phases 2-6 reception-KS1

    There are 14 printable activities in a parent handbook. Due to the level of reading activities, and cut and stick activities, this may be more suitable for older Reception and Year 1 pupils. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    You may need to print resources for parents/carers and provide scissors and glue sticks. No No



    Many of the suggested Literacy activities focus on reading and sharing books together. You may wish to consider how you can provide suggestions to enhance reading such as, using puppets, role play, or making up stories together. You may also like to consider how you can promote mark making opportunities through play to support children embed their phonic knowledge through writing. This needs to be carefully explained to parents/carers to ensure children are having lots of opportunities to practise and apply their phonic knowledge.


    Name & link to resource Overview Suggested additional resources your school could provide Is ICT required? Is a subscription required?



    During school closures all children’s audiobooks are free. There is a ‘little learners section’. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    Suggestions of particular books to download with supporting open ended questions / activities to support children’s recall of the text Yes No


    Older reception

    Some videos from particular authors and activities linked to texts. Free access to ‘masterclasses’ on particular books.  Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    Guidance on which masterclasses to view or which texts to access. Yes Yes

    Book Trust

    Nursery & reception

    Recommended booklists to support parents/carers choices when purchasing books. Some familiar stories available electronically which are supported with signing. Additional family activities are included in the ‘Home Time’ section. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    This website can be difficult to navigate so parents/carers may need some guidance or direct links to the books you wish to share. Yes No

    Classroom Secrets


    Click and drag games to support maths and phonics (from Phase 2). Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    You may wish to direct parents/carers to particular games and resources to support individual learning. Yes Yes

    Love Reading for Kids


    Recommended booklists categorised by age with a selection of fiction and non-fiction. Pages of the book are available for parents/carers to read with children. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    You may wish to direct parents/carers to particular books and guide them with supporting questions to ask. You could also make suggestions for extending learning beyond reading the text. Yes Yes

    Purple Mash


    Many games and activities to support all areas of learning. Children can create their own story books as one of the many activities. For more detailed guidance on Purple Mash please see our computing and edevelopment adviser, Chris Carter’s blog. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    As some of the free content is more suited to KS1 and KS2 parents/carers and carers will need direct guidance on which resources to use on the Purple Mash portal, often with some direction. Yes Yes

    Story Time with Nick

    Nursery & reception

    Stories read by Nick Cannon using YouTube. Illustrations are shared. Children will need a supporting adult to fully benefit from this content.
    You may wish to provide additional questions and activities around the text to extend learning beyond listening to the story. Yes No

    The Children’s Poetry Archive

    Nursery & reception

    Short audio clips of poems for children to listen to. Printed words also available.
    You may wish to provide additional questions and activities around the poem to extend learning. Yes No



    The suggested maths websites contain a variety of both interactive and printable resources. Consider ways of supporting parents/carers to develop maths using everyday learning opportunities through play, and using materials available at home such as, collections of objects, cooking activities and through daily physical activity. Consider how you can promote the use of mathematical language to parents/carers and what this may look like during daily routines at home.


    Name & link to resource Overview Suggested additional resources your school could provide

    Is ICT required?

    Is a subscription required?

    Mathematics Mastery


    A series of comprehensive lesson plans. Some parents/carers may find these difficult to follow, so it may be helpful to extract the most helpful parts of the lesson. Printable resources (such as counters) accompany lesson plans. Some resources such as multilink are referred to, so you may wish to consider making alternative suggestions or providing these resources. Lesson plans include: weeks 1-3 - counting within 20, weeks 4-6 - number bonds within 20 and, weeks 7-10 - depth of number within 20. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    Physical resources such as Multilink and simplified guidance and instructions for parents/carers No No


    Nursery and reception

    A range of activities available on activity cards with clear instructions and hands on learning activities for parents, carers and children to engage in together. Good opportunities for developing problem solving and reasoning. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.

    Some additional resources to support enhance the activities, but not required

    No No


    Nursery and reception

    A range of practical activities with accompanying videos to support all areas of mathematical development. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    No additional resources are required Only for video content No

    White Rose Maths


    Weekly maths activities based around a book. The commentary on the video gives lots of examples and suggestions and uses the book to explore maths. Extension activities are also suggested to parents/carers. The book is not required to complete the activity. Children will need a supporting adult to access this content.
    You may wish to provide a video of you reading the text to support the activity. Some families may need additional resources. No, but useful for video content. No


    Physical Development

    The recommended websites focus mainly on gross motor development. It is important to support parents/carers to understand the ongoing development of fine motor development and independent skills that fall under physical development. You may wish to consider supporting parents/carers to engage their children in independent tasks that enable children to develop, practise and refine their fine motor skills such as, cooking activities, preparing food, getting dressed and fastening buttons.


    Name & link to resource Overview Suggested additional resources your school could provide Is ICT required? Is a subscription required?

    Boogie Beebies

    Nursery & reception

    Videos that are 2-3 minutes long using actions and songs for children to copy and join in with. Interactive and fun. Children do not need an adult to access this content.
    Not required Yes No

    Disney 10 minute shake ups

    Nursery & reception

    Physical activities using Disney characters from the Change for Life NHS programme. Simple instruction cards as well as videos and easy to follow challenges to get children moving. Children need an adult to access this content.
    Printed copies of the cards but not required Yes for video content No


    Whilst researching and reviewing the suggested web content, we came across the Sensory App House which has a range of sensory apps free to download aimed at children who may benefit from digital art therapy. Apps can be downloaded from the App store or Play store and the link to the website is here.

    Mental Well-Being

    There are lots of websites offering guidance on supporting children and young people’s mental health. Many of them contain useful tips for talking to children. They include:


    Name & link to resource Overview

    Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families

    Practical advice and tips and advice for parents/carers on supporting children's mental well-being


    Advice on dealing with school closures and talking to children about COVID-19.

    Children’s Commissioner

    A downloadable book for talking to children about Coronavirus.


    Practical tips for parents/carers on supporting and dealing with children who have mental health conditions.

    The Child Bereavement Network

    Information and guidance for parents/carers about how to talk to children about bereavement.


    The Oak National Academy:

    This virtual school has been built in under two weeks, through a collaboration of 40 school teachers, plus organisations across the education sector. Their aim is to support teachers to support their pupils. They have provided an online bank of curriculum-mapped videoed lessons and resources to support remote learning with daily English, maths and foundation subject lessons.

    Points to consider:

    • Adapt the content: As Oak National Academy acknowledge, “nothing can replace the unique relationship between teachers and their pupils.” Perhaps you can think about ways of adapting the video lessons to a format that best suits the developmental stages and learning styles of the children in your class. This will provide children with security and comfort from the relationship they have with you and your style of delivery.
    • Promote learning through play: Whilst there is some acknowledgement of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) areas of learning, the content has been organised into National Curriculum subjects. The delivery reflects the way that adult-led activities may take place in our Early Years settings, but we know that teachers balance this with the need for children to consolidate and apply taught skills through child-initiated play, in line with the requirements of the EYFS statutory framework. Do your parents/carers understand the need for this balance and are you offering them additional activities and ideas for play-based learning?
    • Is the pitch of these lessons right for your children? During the video lessons, teachers address children in Nursery and Reception. You will need to consider how your cohort of children will respond to the style of teaching provided. You may also wish to provide an explanation to parents about your expectations of their child’s engagement. This is because the video lessons may not be applicable for some children who are not yet ready to sustain the level of focus and concentration required. Whilst the video can be paused, Reception-aged children will need to be able to maintain focus for long periods of time in order to watch the videos and complete offline activities. Some Nursery-aged children may find the pitch of the lesson content challenging to follow
    • Capacity for parent/carer support: Children will get the best out of these video lessons with high levels of parent/carer support and direction. There are many reasons why some families may not be able to offer this level of support to their children so you will need consider your school community needs and other alternatives you can give to families so that they can support their child’s learning at home.

    Below is a table that provides some insight to the week one lessons.


    Subject Overview Suggested additional resources your school could provide


    More suitable for reception than nursery

    Consider adapting the lessons, maybe by videoing yourself using language structures and styles of delivery with which your children are familiar.

    Ensure that parents/carers are clear about how they can support their child with the writing activities. Some children will not be developmentally ready to write full sentences independently, even with modelling and encouragement, so parents/carers need to know what writing alternatives might be appropriate for their child.


    Suitable for reception children working at age-related expectations

    So far, the website has delivered a sequence of lessons on the concept of equal groups. These lessons are appropriately pitched and clearly delivered, providing lots of guided practice and consistent models to support children’s conceptual development as well as problem-solving opportunities.

    A high level of adult involvement, encouragement and support will be required for most children to be able to access these lessons.
    The lessons require adults and children to collect a range of resources that can be found in most homes. However, they rely heavily on digit cards, so schools should consider ways of providing these or providing parents/carers with instructions on how to make them at home.

    Foundation subjects (including Art, PSE, Construction)

    Suitable for nursery or reception

    There is a range of activities focusing on Personal Social Emotional development (PSED), Understanding the World (UW) and Expressive Arts & Design (EAD), acknowledging the importance of balance and breadth in learning opportunities for children while they are at home.

    Some of the activities, for instance, the art lessons, are heavily reliant on adult support. There is an emphasis on children labelling things they draw with captions or, for Nursery children, with initial letter sounds. However some activities are provided to give children, parents/carers ideas of play activities they can do at home with resources such as Lego® or other types of linking blocks.

    The Physical Education (PE) activities are direct links to ‘PE with Joe Wicks’.

    A high level of adult involvement, encouragement and support will be required for most children to be able to access these lessons.



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