Messaging for parents on learning from home

Staying at home is new for us as a country. During this time it’s really important that we look after our wellbeing and that of our children and whānau, that we stay connected and that we be kind to one another.

Having our children do all of their learning at home also a new experience for many of us. You are your child’s first teacher and learning can happen everywhere at any time. But it’s important to know you are not there to replace your child’s teacher and that your school or early learning  service, as well as the Ministry of Education, will be doing all we can to support your children at this time.

Below, you will find some ideas about how to stay connected, how to look after yourself and your whānau, and how to help, and to get help, with your children’s learning at home. We are all in this together, and we hope you find them useful. 

Look after yourself

Alert Level 4 is changing our daily lives. It’s important to look after our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of our whānau and community as we get through this together.

Remember, you are not alone.

  • Stay connected with friends and whānau.
  • Stick to a routine.
  • Be kind to yourself and others.

Being kind to yourself is very important at this time.  ​Keeping an eye on your own emotional and mental wellbeing is critical.

It is normal to sometimes feel stressed or lonely when self-isolating. Even if you are not sick you may be feeling anxious about COVID-19. This is normal.

There are some things you can do to lower your anxiety:

  • Try to limit how much media yourself or your whānau read about the lockdown or COVID-19 each day. 
  • Remind yourself this is a normal reaction to the current situation, and will likely pass.
  • Stay connected with friends and whānau, even if it’s only 5 minutes a day.  
  • Reach out to your usual support network by phone – family and whānau, friends and workmates. Share how you feel and offer support to others, where you can.
  • It helps to stick to a routine - either your normal routine as much as possible, mealtimes, bedtimes and exercising; or creating a new routine around working at home, caring for whānau, or looking after children.
  • If you feel you are not coping, it is important to talk with a health professional. For support with anxiety, distress or mental wellbeing, you can call or text 1737 – free, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – to talk with a trained counsellor.  

For information on how to support wellbeing for you and your whānau during COVID-19, go to the Mental Health Foundation's COVID-19 page

Be kind

Staying home as a nation is new for us all. So during this time, it’s important that we be kind to one another while we stay safe.

Learning comes naturally to children.  It can be fun, enjoyable and interesting for everyone in your whānau or social bubble.

If you or your child become overwhelmed or frustrated – pause. Take a moment. Maybe it’s a good time for a break or snack. Perhaps they are ready for some physical activity, or to move to something else.

Think about some words that you or your child can say to each other when either of you need a break. When you are both ready, share what happened and how it made you feel.  The conversation is likely to guide both of you on what could happen next. Your child could even lead this conversation.

We’re all learning how to do this. So don’t put pressure on yourself or your child.

So remember:

  • Be kind
  • Remember this is new for all of use
  • Pause
  • Take moment or a break
  • Have a conversation
  • Share
  • Make a plan for what happens next
  • Agree on words to use that indicate you need a break

Find a routine that works for your whānau

Having a routine that works for you and all your whānau is important so that everybody in your whanau or social bubble knows what to expect. Learning happens all the time, and can be woven into your whānau routine. 

Remember it takes time to get into a new routine.  Take small steps and learn what works as you go. 

Things for your whānau or social bubble to discuss might include:

  • How will our day start? Do we still need to be ready at same time – particularly if we don’t need to travel to school or work?
  • What does each day look like? You might like to plan out ahead what your day will look like.  You can let you child know when you might have to work. Your children can help build your whānau schedule, what you will be doing together, and what they will be doing independently. What time can we block out for learning, for sharing food, for work, and your breaks and fun?
  • If there are multiple people in your home or social bubble, you can all support learning.  Can older siblings read stories to younger siblings? Can younger children practice working independently or quietly if they have a sibling at secondary school who needs a quiet space to focus.
  • Try and give children activities in the schedule they can own and lead.  This will give them a greater sense of control and ownership in any changes to their routine.
  • If you have an exercise routine, how might your child or your social bubble be part of that? What other fun ways can exercise be built into your day?
  • Are there others who are part of your social bubble and need support?  What needs to happen and when, and who will do it?
  • How will we build in regular breaks or times to connect as a whānau?  Go outside for some fresh air, do some physical activity, or just have a cup of tea and share your day.
  • You may need to schedule in device time to your schedule, so that everybody has the time to do things they need to - who needs it and for how long.

It’s likely that every day will be slightly different. But taking the time to plan out your whānau structure together means everybody knows what to expect. 

Stay connected

It’s important to stay connected at this time. Think about the different ways your whānau and your child can stay connected, whether with family, friends, or work mates, or your child’s teachers.

Make a plan on how you will connect with other friends and whānau. There a lots of ways to stay in touch with others. Here are a few ideas:  

Write a letter – you may have family or friends who don’t have access to internet. This is a great opportunity for your child to write letters or design cards to people you care about.  NZ Post is considered an essential service and will continue delivery during Alert Level 4.

Phone - Stay in touch by speaking on the phone or texting. You might like to set regular times to touch base so you can be sure the people you care about are safe or if you need support with your child’s learning.

Online – There are many online options to also help you stay in touch (Zoom, Skype, Facebook and FaceTime, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram and others). Most are easy to use or, if you are having trouble, others in your whānau may be able to help you.

You can also consider:

  • Virtual play dates: set up some time for your child to talk with their friends online. It will probably be exciting for them to share what you are doing during this time.  Depending on their age, they could also help set it up.
  • Group activities:  form virtual social bubbles – share your experiences, share others lockdown experiences, have fun competitions, have virtual parties, share tips with others.
  • Parent’s hubs: look for parent hubs online. Lots of people will be sharing their ideas and what has worked for them.  You might also share some of your frustrations and funny stories with others.

We are all in this together

Your child, your whānau, your social bubble, your virtual bubble, can all work on learning in a way that works for your children.

Your early learning service or school are your partners, and they will also support learning from home.  We are all in this together.

We all have tips, ideas, activities, resources, and ideas that we can share and use, as you find what works for you. You can find some of these ideas at Learning from Home or at Ki te Ao Mārama. More will be added to these resources in the coming weeks. 

Learning happens everywhere

You don’t need to replace your child’s teacher or turn your home into a classroom.

Your home is already a learning environment. Learning opportunities happen everywhere, every day. During this time, use whatever you have access to in your home or on any walks.

  • You are your child’s first teacher.
  • Involve your child in deciding what to do.
  • Slip learning moments into your whānau routine.
  • Use what you have available to you.
  • Make it fun.

You may want to join or set up a small ‘online learning hub’ with your whānau, community or others from your child’s kōhanga, early learning service or school. This is another way to stay connected with others in a similar situation to you, so you can share tips or advice with each other.

Here are some ideas to support your child (and your whānau) with their learning:

Early Learning

  • Ask your child what they would like to do or what they are interested in.
  • Encourage your child to listen to you and their other siblings while also communicating their own ideas.
  • How can you use any toys, games, puzzles, or everyday utensils you already have at home to support learning?
  • Let them be hands on - in the garden, or during exercise outside.
  • Read to them or let them read to you.


  • Ask your child what they would like to do or what they are interested in.
  • What has your child been working on at school recently?
  • If your child is working on something that is interesting to them, let them continue working on it before you move to another activity.
  • Be enthusiastic about what your child is learning – learning should be fun. If you look like it’s enjoyable, then they will think it is too.
  • Think about what you already have in your house or garden that can make learning fun.
  • Involve your child in planning for the day.


  • Involve your child in any decision making.
  • Your child will be used to working by themselves and will likely be aware of what their priorities for learning are.  Have a conversation about what they are working on and how you can support them. You might want to talk about time management, and how you might fit that into the daily routine.
  • Encourage them to stay connected to friends and classmates.
  • Have whānau conversations about the topics or projects they are working on.
  • Take opportunities for ‘real life learning’, like leading the daily whānau schedule, planning and cooking a meal, working on what shopping we need  and how to budget, and setting up ways your social bubble can connect with friends and whānau.
  • If teachers are running online tutorials, webinars or other online communications, get your children to build in schedule reminders, and make sure they have the time and space to focus on that is part of the whānau schedule for the day.

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