So, homeschooling again, huh? Unfortunately, we are struggling with COVID as a nation, right now. Numbers are on the rise and, as of last week, it is believed that about 1 in 30 Londoners have the virus. That means that we have to all try our best to get back into the swing of homeschooling again. Although exams have been cancelled for the summer of 2021, it’s not an excuse to slack! We need to keep our minds fresh and make sure that we are ready for the school year 2021-22. That means you need to stay on top of your school work and learn as much as you can. But what resources should you use?
It seems like there are an awful lot of resources out there. It’s hard to tell which ones will help you and which will bore you! Plus, with spread of fake news and propaganda, it’s important to know what you can trust. You don’t want to fill up on false information. Also, you need to make sure that you’re choosing stuff that is at the right level so that it helps to supplement your studies, rather than confusing you.
Well, there are loads of resources that are great to help with studying at home. In my search for the best of the best, I have found YouTube channels, websites and books, to name a few. So, here is a list of some of my favourites for Key Stages 3-5!
This post contains affiliate links.
Great YouTube Channels for Homeschooling
If you are more of an audio-visual learner, or you just want a bit of a break from all of the reading and writing you do, YouTube channels are a great pick for you. Any good channel will give you great information in a fun, informative way that will help you to get the knowledge that you need!
Personally, I love to weave a video or two into my own revision process. I always have! I’ve loved them from when I was a bright-eyed GCSE student to now, when I’m back at uni! That’s 8 years that they’ve helped me. Wow, I feel old.
The good thing about YoutTube videos is that most of them were written to entertain! After all, the creators need to make sure that their content is engaging if they want to gain and keep subscribers. So, most of the educational videos that I can think of are enjoyable to watch. In fact, I watch some of the channels I’m recommending for fun!
Plus, most YouTube videos are free! There’s no need to fork out loads and loads of money, there. The creators make most of their money from ads, affiliate links, sponsorships, voluntary donations and merch. So, they can afford to give you their great content without charging you a penny. Although if you have a favourite, it’s nice to pledge to them on Patreon or any other service that they use. You get cool perks like bonus videos, and they get the extra support that they need to create more quality content! It’s completely your choice, though.
Here are some of my favourite YouTube channels that will help you through this homeschooling time.
This is my personal favourite. I love CrashCourse! It helped me through many a History exam. Plus, if I need a refresher on a text in English, I can usually count on them to have a video about it. Here are some of the topics that Crash Course covers:
The topics are useful, the animations are cute and the information is easy to understand! You might need to pause it from time to time to understand, though. Overall, it’s just a great resource.
My only complaint about it is that it is very centred on the USA and the history and literature of white people in particular. I can get past the whole using-American-English thing. As long as you’re aware that they spell things differently and that the occasional word is different, you’re fine. However, when it comes to the content that they choose to cover, they tend to favour stuff about America.
Before they made the second CrashCourse World History series, there were actually more history videos about the USA than the world. And the world history series does include the US at some points, too! There are separate shows about the USA (a country with a comparatively short history, albeit a big one) and Europe, but not other parts of the world. There is loads to know and learn about the other countries, so it is a little short-sighted, to me! They could make 100 videos each about Egypt, the Ottoman Empire, Peru, Morocco, Japan, India or China, to name a few. I hope that this is something they fix in the future.
Considering that our education system does focus on white culture and history, too, though, it is a good resource for homeschooling purposes in the UK.
Whether you need to look up a famous person for history, or you want to know more about that author you’re studying in English, Biographics has you covered. Each video gives you an in-depth look at a famous person: from Martin Luther to Nelson Mandela. You can look up famous criminals and killers, as well as activists and adventurers. It’s not just about people, either! There is also the occasional video about a disease like Polio or BSE. With over 400 videos under their belt, you never know what they may cover next! Although you know it will be good and thorough.
I love that it covers all kinds of people! The diversity keeps the videos interesting and shows young people that you can be great (or infamous) no matter who you are. I’m not going to lie: from time to time, I watch a Biographics video and it inspires me to do something new or great. In fact, I was watching their videos about famous writers and scientists when I came up with the idea for Shani’s Tutoring.
Just like with CrashCourse, the videos are great to watch for fun, too. Maybe I’m just a little bit of a sad teacher stereotype, but I really think that this resource makes learning fun. It’s not like reading dry old facts in a dusty, coffee-stained textbook. The host, Simon, uses quotes, images and lots more to paint a picture of the life of every person that he covers. He gives every topic the thought and care that it deserves, which makes for a really enjoyable experience. You also learn a ton, if you take the time to let the information soak in.
As you’ve probably guessed, Geographics is just like Biographics, but it focusses on geographical locations rather than people. In fact, the similarities don’t end there! It is run and hosted by the same person, Simon Whistler and the two YouTube channels really go hand-in-hand.
From the name, it might seem like the channel is for geography students only. However, don’t be fooled! You can learn a lot about a range of subjects! In particular, you’ll find out a lot about the history of the places and events that he covers. He also covers the most noteworthy information about the place he’s covering. That means that it can cross over into a lot of other topics, too.
I think this channel is great right now in the middle of the pandemic. With many of us in lockdown right now, we can’t go where we’d like to around the world. Many of us have missed out on holidays that we were really looking forward to. Stuck at home, we can only dream of jetting off to a new place. So, why not spend some time travelling around the world with Simon on YouTube? It might not be as good as seeing Bikini Atoll for yourself, but it is the next best thing.
I use this channel a lot for my own Literature studies. The more I know about the place where a text was set, the easier it is for me to analyse it and put myself into the writer’s shoes. So, I check Geographics to see if they’ve covered the place. I often find out a new fact about the place that helps me to understand what a writer said. It helps a great deal!
I watch a lot of CGP Grey for my own creative writing. I’ll tell you this: I write pages and pages of notes! I stop the video often and I try my best to soak up as many of the facts as I can! CGP Grey encouraged me to think more deeply about my own worldbuilding for my story. I took the time to think about how the government is run and what made things the way they are. This makes my writing so much stronger in the long run!
This YouTube channel isn’t just about writing, though. In fact, it is an awesome resource for many, many reasons! There are videos on space, the American political system, Brexit and even the difference between zebras and horses! The topics, although very centred on Amercia, range on a whole variety of topics that can really help you to keep up with your school work during this lockdown.
All in all, the CGP Grey YouTube channel is a fantastic resource for a variety of topics. Politics, science, religion or history… it’s got you covered. Just make sure that you have some paper with you because, as YouTube resources go, there is a lot of information in a very short amount of time. The host speaks fast and moves on from point to point very quickly!
Do what I do. Pause and rewind if you have to. It will help you to keep track of what he’s saying and enable you to retain the information as best you can. If you aren’t a fan of pen and paper, split your computer screen in half and type notes on one side. Just make sure that you have something you can look back over afterwards. Create your own resource from the resource!
I’ll admit that I haven’t watched a lot of TED-Ed. It’s not because I don’t like it! In fact, from what I have seen, it’s a great resource for learning and revision. Rather, it’s just that I like to pick a few resources and stick with them until I’ve worked through all of the content that I find useful to me. Then, when I’ve drained the book or channel or other resource of all of the worth it could give me, I can move on to something else. It keeps me on track and helps me to stay focussed.
However, I have watched enough (5-6 videos) to know that TedEd is awesome. The art style is cute and memorable for all of the visual learners out there. The video titles are questions that you could actually ask yourself. Plus, the voice that they use is slow and deliberate without feeling patronising.
Just like with Wikipedia, I trust TED-Ed to summarise a topic that I’m studying quickly and efficiently. Then, I can do the reading and other research that I need after to help get a more in-depth understanding of the topic for essays, presentations and debates that I have at university.
SciShow is another great resource to keep you engaged and entertained during this difficult time. The hosts are fun to watch and the information is very informative. One of the hosts is Hank Green, the brother of the guy who wrote A Fault in Our Stars! That has nothing to do with homeschooling, but it is a fun fact.
Of course, SciShow is for those who need help with their science work during this lockdown. In particular, it’s great for GCSE students and anyone else studying science to that level. However, even if you aren’t doing science at all, it’s still very helpful to keep up with the stuff that they’re talking about. There’s even a video answering three big questions that people ask about COVID! That’s pretty interesting, right?
I love the huge range of topics that they cover on this channel. A lot of the content on the main SciShow channel is focussed on biology in particular. There are over 500 videos on the biology playlist. Comparatively, the chemistry playlist has just over 100. There isn’t much for physics there at all.
However, that doesn’t mean that Physics and Chemistry are neglected! For one, all three sciences are very closely linked. Learning more about one can definitely help you to understand the others a little more. As well as that, though, there’s also the fact that the sister channel, SciShow Space, has a lot more to do with the physics side of things.
SciShow is very closely linked to CrashCourse, which, as I said before, is my favourite resource. They also recommend loads of other great educational channels, so check out their recommendations!
Step Back History
Now, I love Step Back History. I think that it’s a fantastic resource to help people to understand the world around them.
However, I value transparency and openness a whole lot. So, I feel like I need to give you a disclaimer for this channel. The creator is very left-wing, just like I am. Our content is different, though. When it comes to Shani’s Tutoring, I take great care to make sure that I don’t force my views down anyone’s throats. When I have an opinion that I know is informed by my own left-wing ideas, I let my students know that there is an alternative. I don’t endorse, support or accept far-right or bigoted views. However, I will make you aware of non-hateful political stances. This includes moderate right and centre politics.
On the other hand, Step Back wants to convince you that his opinions are right. While I agree with him on most points, I’m not here to debate politics. I’m here to help you to learn loads so that you can get great grades. So, I just want to make sure that you know his point of view so that you can come to your own conclusions.
Despite this, he creator behind Step Back does not lie or deceive to prop up his political ideas. The facts are all true and he does a great deal of research for his videos. So, it is still a useful and informative resource that can help you through your time homeschooling this lockdown.
Step Back History covers history, as you probably guessed, as well as politics. There is also some philosophy and sociology thrown in there for good measure. The videos are very helpful and informative! So, don’t dismiss it because of my disclaimer!
Like Step Back, Philosophy Tube‘s creator, Oliver Thorn is left-wing. However, the point of his channel is to give the content in a philosophy degree away for free! So, any references to his own political views are a lot more subtle and infrequent. Of course, his ideas inform his work! No one’s work is free of their politics! Even the idea of giving away university content for free is a pretty socialist one. It’s a lot less overt, though, and not the main point of his videos – in particular, his earlier stuff.
Philosophy Tube covers (again, it’s pretty obvious) philosophy. From Kant to human rights, Philosophy Tube is a great source to go to if you are studying philosophy at school. But it’s not just limited to that! Philosophy helps us to inform a whole range of other subjects, including English Language, English Literature, politics and history.
What do I mean by that? Well, philosophy as a subject asks you to spend a whole lot of time thinking about the big picture. How do we think? What is reason? If you spend time thinking about how you think, you can be more aware of what it takes to be good at an essay subject.
In addition, there are a range of subjects in the UK curriculum that expect you to be aware of common schools of thought. For example, in English Literature, you are expected to understand that there are usually feminist and Marxist readings of most texts. In fact, there are usually multiple feminist and Marxist readings, since those terms mean different things to different people. Well, Olly is a feminist who has a whole 4-part series on Marx. So, this resource will help you to understand where those schools of thought come from.
Awesome Websites to Help You With Homeschooling
Websites are also a great way to keep track of your learning. The good thing about the internet is that a lot of the stuff you’ll find here is either free or affordable. The bad thing is that anyone can write a blog post, set up a site or make a course. So, you have to make sure that the resources you choose are authentic, informative and legitimate. That can be a hard thing to do.
Let’s face it, though: the education sector has taken way too long to get with the times. I don’t know if it’s because most of the high-ups are from a different era or they just didn’t think about how great the internet could be. What I do know for sure, though, is that there aren’t enough education-based companies that use the internet to its full potential.
Some sites have a great layout and loads of resources, but lock their stuff behind memberships designed for schools only. That means that you need to go through the head of your department or even higher up to ask them if they can factor a membership into their budget! If they say no, you’re out of luck. On the other hand, there are also some free or membership-based resources that are easily available for students, but a pain to navigate. Oh, and let’s not forget about the sites that still look like they were made on MySpace in the mid 2000s! Yuck!
So, finding stuff to recommend to you was a pain. In the end, along with the great sites that hit all of the right beats, I went with a few sites that have terrible navigation, but that you can easily access without getting all the staff in your school involved.
Resources From Your Exam Board
The first place that you should go to when you want help with your homeschooling is the exam board that your school chose. If you don’t know it, just drop a teacher an email. I’m sure they can let you know without too much stress. And if you’re in Key Stage 3, ask the teachers which exam boards the older kids are using. It will help you a great deal in the long run. Let me explain.
As a GCSE or A-Level student, the exam board site will tell you what it is they’re looking for in their students. Loads of us have learning objectives or the exam spec thrown in our face at some point in the year and yawn. The language sounds like it’s for teachers only. You’d never need to know all of this jargon, right? Not quite. If you can simplify the language into your own words, you’ll know how the examiner is marking your work. That way, you can pack what they want into your answers to boost your grades.
If you’re in Key Stage Three, you’re preparing for your GCSEs (or the equivalent where you’re from). The point of the first three years of secondary school is to give you the skills, tools and base knowledge that you need to do well in your later exams (and your future, but teachers often seem to forget that part). So, if you know what the examiners are looking for in Year 11, you can put the work in to make sure you’re ready for that.
For example, for the English Language GCSE, you need good spelling, punctuation and grammar. So, you could take the time to improve those things! Learn more about commas and the different word types. That kinda thing.
SparkNotes is a good resource for English Literature. They also provide other subjects, such as Biology and maths. I personally love the No Fear Shakespeare series, as I think that it gives you a great insight into what characters are saying in the major plays. Although, I do think that it’s a good idea to have a look at No Fear Shakespeare in book form. I find that it’s easier to remember where events happen when can physically see how far in the book it is. You can write all over the text. Plus, you can take the book to your class (online or in school) without causing as many disruptions.
Please take SparkNotes with a grain of salt, though. They give you lots of interpretations of texts, which can be great to get your ideas flowing and get you into the analysis frame of mind. However, don’t let them limit you! If SparkNotes didn’t think of a certain interpretation of a text, that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. As long as you have the context and text to back you up, and you’re sure you understood the words in the text and what they mean, the chances of your idea being wrong are next to 0.
I find that some students rely too heavily on SparkNotes to check if their ideas are “correct”. Please remember that the point of English Literature is to teach you to think and analyse for yourself. That means coming up with your own ideas. If SparkNotes or another resource has had the same idea as you, great! If they haven’t, then you’ve probably just come up with a fresh, unique way to look at the text, which is great, too!
York Notes is a lot like SparkNotes. However, in some ways it’s better and in some ways it’s not as good.
On the plus side, York Notes gives you content that has been designed for the English education system. That means that the resources are spit up into GCSE, A-Level and Undergraduate. That’s super helpful if you’re struggling to find content aimed at your level! Also, you can be sure that the content is in British English, whereas SparkNotes is an American company. So, you’re less likely to accidentally add Americanisms into your exam or coursework. Americanisms are a big no-no!
On the other hand, though, the York Notes website seems to be mainly designed to market their physical books and flashcards. You see what I mean about education being behind the times? This means that it can be hard to find the free, online resources that they have. They are there! But sometimes you might need Google to help you find them. In contrast, SparkNotes does advertise its physical products, but it is also there to help you get the information you need right now. So, the layout is much better and cleaner for people who aren’t there to buy books.
When it comes to the content that York Notes offers, though, I think that it being organised to match the English education system is a big help. It means that the example questions are a lot more on the level of what you’ll need to answer in your exams. American schools learn things in a very different order to us, so it can be confusing to look at SparkNotes if you aren’t sure what you’re supposed to be studying.
The free flashcards are also great! Print them out. Try the content. Keep learning!
I’m sure you know all about BBC Bitesize already. It’s a lot of people’s go-to source for help, tips and revision! There are revision lessons, quizzes and games for you to get stuck in. Their website is visually interesting and it is very easy to find the right level of study.
However, I do wish that their internal search worked a little better. They have one there! However, it isn’t very sophisticated. I don’t think they use tags and categories as much as they should, so there’s isn’t a way to sort by most relevant. That means that it can sometimes be hard to find resources for the text or topic that you’re looking for, particularly if it’s more obscure.
When I was in 6th form, I studied The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope and Dubliners by James Joyce. Neither of them is on the Bitesize website. That’s fine. It makes sense, since they’re not very common texts to do. Let’s ignore the fact that the Pope text was already a nightmare to search for on the internet in my own school for obvious reasons. The fact that there is no relevancy sorting feature means that I wasted a lot of revision time searching Bitesize. There are loads of articles on Bitesize with the word “Dubliners” in them. So, I had to sift through really irrelevant stuff just to find out that it didn’t have what I needed.
This could be fixed by a simple sorting feature! You don’t have to sort by relevance. Even just being able to sort by subject and level would have helped me a great deal. There’s history stuff on Dublin! But what about English Lit?
The National Theatre
The National Theatre is a great resource if you are a drama or English student doing your GCSEs or A-Levels. The content is helpful and the rehearsal diaries really help you to understand what goes into creating a great work of theatre. The actors need to be aware of the different interpretations of the text, as well as what the source material means to choose how they would like to play the role. In addition, the director also needs to have a strong understanding of the text to be able to convey the messages and create their own spin on the work. So, it is super useful for anyone who needs to understand and analyse a play better.
However, like with so many other education websites, the navigation is awful. The layout does not help you to find what you need in any way, and the archive search is clunky and unhelpful. It’s a real shame, because the National Theatre is so modern in so many ways. The work they create is so forward-thinking. It feels new and fresh! But the education side of their website just lets them down. Maybe they just haven’t put the thought that they should into it.
Lucky for you, though, I found the rehearsal diaries page and linked you directly to that in the link at the top of this section. That way, you can bypass all of the unnecessary stuff and get straight to the content that could help you to boost your grades.
The IXL website is great! It has awesome content for you to work through in both English and Maths for all school-aged students: from Reception to Year 13. In my search for other services similar to Shani’s Tutoring on the internet, this was as close as I could get. There are quizzes, games, and goals to keep students engaged and having fun. I really like the gamification (points system) that they have going. I’m the kind of person who went through Duolingo French trying to unlock as many trophies as I could. So, seeing the awards building up when I tried this feature made me want to keep going.
I find that setting the right level of work for students is an essential balance as a tutor. If you make it too hard, students can feel like the goals are unachievable, which can make them lose motivation. On the other hand, if it’s too easy, students can become complacent and think that they don’t need to work hard to study or revise. So, IXL’s adaptive learning is an amazing tool. It keeps content manageable for students, tailoring the lessons specifically to each student’s personal level. They then make it more challenging as you grow as a student and learn more. So, you never feel overwhelmed or like you will never be able to do the set work.
Unlike most of the other website resources on this list, though, IXL has a price tag. It’s £7.99 per month for either maths or English, and £12.99 if you want both. Personally, I think that this is a great price for what it offers. However, just bear in mind that the free resources are limited.
Great Books to Read
Books are, and will always be, an essential part of learning. Whether you prefer e-books or the physical versions, they both have value and help you to learn. As a lot of education is behind the times, you’ll find that most of the info that you need is still only in books. I’m sure more info will become available online as time goes on! We’ve already come such a long way! However, right now, there is still so much info missing that could help you to boost your grades.
Should you pick ebooks or physical books? Well, they both have their pros and cons!
When it comes to physical books, they give your eyes a rest. There’s no denying that our screen time has gone up during the pandemic. We have classes, meetings, resources, assignments, friend meet-ups and so much else online that we never used to have. We all fill our time with more TV, Netflix and gaming than before. So, it’s good to take a break from it all sometimes. Physical books give you that.
Also, some theories suggest that physical books help us to remember facts more than ebooks. The Business Insider posits that it could be that we think about where in a book a fact was when we try to recall it: “halfway through the book, on the left page, near the bottom”. Plus, it may be because we get to customise how we note a page as relevant: post-its, tabs, bending the top corner of the page…
In contrast, ebooks give you flexibility. You can read them on a range of devices and make notes and highlights without cluttering or ruining the page. Thank God for the undo button! You can change the font size and even set a dyslexia-friendly font, if you’d like.
The Ode Less Travelled
Recommended to me by my own English tutor back in 2013, The Ode Less Travelled is a great book for A-Level students who are studying poetry. It goes through the most important information that you need to know in a funny, laid back way.
I’m not sure about you, but I love a bit of Stephen Fry. He’s funny, well-educated and communicates in a clear manner. The same is true for this book! I love the fact that it helps to make poetry more accessible to the public. I can’t tell you how many students of mine over the past 5-6 years were stressed when it came to the poetry part of their exam. It had nothing to do with them actually struggling with poetry, though. Rather, it was just about the reputation that poetry had as being hard to understand, complicated and pretentious. When we sat down and did some poetry, they realised it wasn’t as bad as they thought! So, I’m glad that Stephen Fry is showing people that poems can be great, too.
I highly recommend that you take some time to read this book. It’s much less of a drag than some of the helpful books out there. So, why not read it when you’re winding down? Get away from screen time and just enjoy the book! You don’t even need to take notes. Just sit back, relax and enjoy the book – if all goes well.
The Poetry Toolkit
If funny stuff isn’t your thing when you want to have a serious study session, The Poetry Toolkit may be the book for you. It was actually required reading when I was in my first-year English Literature course at university. And for good reason! It covers complex poetry topics in a simple, straightfoward way.
To be honest with you, I could have really used this book when I was doing my LAMDA Grade 7 Speaking Verse and Prose exam. For it, I had to know quite a bit about how poems work, like different types of metre (as well as other stuff, like how we use our tongue, teeth, diaphragm, etc to communicate). If I saw all of this info set out like it is in The Poetry Toolkit, 17-year-old me would have been very happy.
It has a lot more info than The Ode Less Travelled. In fact, it has a lot of info that you aren’t required to know until uni. However, it does have its value. If you are the kind of person who learns facts very well, knowing the technical side of a poem could help you to wow your examiner and get your marks up.
English isn’t like maths. Learning more than you need to know isn’t going to be pointless because it’s never tested. Studying Language or Literature at a high level just means looking at texts more deeply than before. You could technically study the same text at GCSE and A-Level, as long as you keep thinking deeper and deeper into the meanings, analysis and interpretations. Of course, that would never happen because you need variety, but it’s technically true. So, using high-level terms in an exam could help to secure that top mark.
No Fear Shakespeare
No Fear Shakespeare is the best. I love it! If you’re struggling to understand what in the world Shakespeare is trying to say (like most of us do at some point), No Fear has got your back.
Once the lockdown is over and you’re all back to school, your teacher will most likely expect you to understand that Shakespeare text you were studying. If you don’t, they might say that you had a whole lot of time to look it up or ask, if you didn’t get it. So, why not take some time now to understand that dreaded text in a fun way?
That’s where No Fear Shakespeare comes in. It has loads of resources to help you out! For one, you have the SparkNotes website (see above), where you can see the standard English version of a few of Shakespeare’s texts. If you’re serious about understanding Shakespeare, though, the help doesn’t just end there.
There are graphic novels for the most-studied texts like Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. Plus, there are No Fear versions of every other Shakespeare play that you can think of! While they might not be graphic novels (I wish), they do give you line-by-line translations of Shakespeare into plain English. To make things even better, they also throw in commentary, character descriptions and much, much more.
The reason I like these texts (as opposed to the online versions) is because you can take them to school or online class with you. Leave the original text where you last threw it when you were frustrated with it. The fact that it still has the original version right text to the translation means that you can still take part in class the same way. You just have an aid right there with you, too.
The Horrible Histories Books
When I was doing my A-Levels, I used the Horrible Histories book set to revise. When I was in my first year of uni, I used the same books to help me to remember important dates, facts and figures before my exam.
The brilliant thing about the Horrible Histories series is that it’s aimed for kids. It is full of great, important information and covers each topic beautifully. However, it doesn’t bog you down with lots of info you don’t need, or hard words that take a long time to understand. So, it is the perfect book series to help you to go over things that you already know!
As long as you put in the work through the year, you can read the Horrible Histories book on the topic you’re studying in History and be sure that it will help you to get the general picture of the period. It will tell you all of the things that you need to know about events, chronology, dates, important people, places and all that jazz. Then, it’s up to you to fill in the blanks with the extra facts and analysis that you need to boost your grades.
It is never a good idea to cram the night before an exam. So, instead, why not finish the cramming as early as you can and sit down with a nice cup of tea and one of these great books? You’re still revising, but it’s easier on your mind so you won’t stress out as much.
Now that we’re on lockdown again, I know it can be stressful to study in this environment. So, why not sit down with a book that can help you to keep your history knowledge in your head? You’re studying without the stress!
The Norton Anthology of Poetry
So, this text is one that was required of me in my first year of uni. That’s not because it’s hard! It’s because we have to analyse text after text very quickly. So, it’s good to have one book that contains a lot of the most known poets and poems. That way, when we have tasks to do for our seminars, they can just give us a page number and we can get it done without the unnecessary messing around.
The Norton Anthology of Poetry is a great resource. It might be a little pricey, but once you have it, you don’t need another poetry book. It has centuries worth of well-known works. My only complaint is that I wish we could see some more poems from places outside of Europe and the US. Japan is known for its haikus. Mulan, the Disney film, was based on a famous Chinese poem. Why not add a little variety?
But the good thing about it is that you can get all of the English Literature practice you need. When I was preparing for my exam, I would just flick through the pages until I found a poem I liked. Then, I would do a little analysis of it, straight into the book. It sharpened my skills and got me in the mood for the exam.
Why not do the same? There are plenty of poems in there that will suit your level. Pick the ones you like and analyse. It will help you tons. If you do, though, make sure that you write in pencil. The pages are quite thin!
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism
The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism was another set text in my first year of uni. It helps you to get to grips with literary theory, so it is awesome.
I don’t think you’d need this resource if you’re doing your GCSEs. However, as an A-Level English Lit student, you will need to know some basic theory. For example, if you are studying Hamlet, you may need to read up on the Oedipus Complex, as well as some feminist theory. This will help you to interpret the text and back up your own points better.
In particular, I would get hold of this text if you’re doing your A-Level coursework. You have over 1000 pages of theory there. So, you can very quickly and easily pick up some quotes, which are an essential part of a good coursework essay.
How do you use it for your homeschooling? Well, it’s time for you A-Level Lit students out there to pick out those themes from your set text. Pick as many as you can! Then, look in the theme-based contents page of the book. Pick out some good quotes and analyse them as much as you can!
When I was doing my A-Levels, I chose about 10-20 quotes to back up my understanding of Hamlet and memorised them. One of them was this quote by Francis Bacon! It saved my life in the exam!
Understanding Grammar in Scotland Today
This is the final text from my own uni days that I’m going to throw at you. This one was from my English Language first-year course, and it made my life so much easier when it came to learning about the words, phrases, sentences and clauses that make up the English language.
Don’t let the name fool you. Understanding Grammar in Scotland Today isn’t a book about Scots or one of the many Scottish accents. It’s about English as a whole.
In this book, you will learn all about grammar. From verbs to gerunds; adjectives to adverbials. It’s all there and it can help you loads.
To be honest, it doesn’t matter if you’re an A-Level student who didn’t choose English Language. If you’re studying an essay subject, this book can help you to get your grammar up to scratch for the exam. It’s simple and easy to understand. Plus, there are loads of examples for you to follow along!
The Horrible Histories TV Show
If you dread the thought of reading more than you have to this lockdown, there are other resources out there just for you! Take the Horrible Histories show, for one. It is full of great information that can help you to study during this difficult time.
If you’re a visual learner or you just want a break from all of those online classes and written assignments, the Horrible Histories show has something for you. The sketches stick in your head because they’re so much fun. The songs are factual and memorable. I learnt all of the kings and queens of England by watching the sing-along episode a few times over.
You wouldn’t believe it, but it actually helped with my exams! I was able to show the examiner that I was aware of the historical context of the events by talking about the monarchs who came before and after James II. That helped me to show that I understood that historical events don’t just happen in a vacuum, and that events have lasting effects.
Right now (January 2021), Horrible Histories is on Netflix in the UK. So, you will be able to watch it on there if you hurry! However, you never know when Netflix will be removing their next batch of shows. So, you can also get a DVD boxed set on Amazon if you’re old-school like me.
Like the books, the TV show is a great resource that’s fun and chill, but still teaches you loads!
A Subscription With Shani’s Tutoring
Then there’s this website, Shani’s Tutoring. I am set to open to the public on the 12th January 2021 at 3pm, which is technically in a few hours now!
I strive to make tutoring and learning as affordable as possible. So, for a monthly fee, you can get the following things, depending on your membership tier:
- Weekly worksheets (either printable PDF or online exercises).
- Weekly “tips and tricks” articles.
- Motivational posts.
- Access to the Learner Community, including Forums.
- Weekly group classes.
- A weekly drop-in stream to answer your questions.
- Weekly lecture-style webinars.
- Podcasts every week.
- Up to 3,000 words of personalised essay feedback per month.
You can get through your homeschooling with ease when you join Shani’s Tutoring. The service has just opened, so more resources will be on their way! However, you can get access to a supportive community straight away, and ask me any questions you need to.
Sign up now to keep on top of your studies in an affordable way!
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