COVID-19: Home schooling your tamariki

Help to support your children's learning if you have to isolate at home

Home schooling your tamariki while you have to isolate can be pretty overwhelming. Find out what supports and resources you can access to make it easier.

On this page, you can find the following information:

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant almost all school-aged children around Aotearoa New Zealand have spent time learning from home. With lockdowns, schools closed or whānau members having to isolate, tamariki have had to learn from home for days, weeks and sometimes months on end.

This has caused huge disruptions to children’s lives, and also to the whānau who have to look after them at home and oversee their schoolwork. Having tamariki at home and helping with their home learning can be very challenging, especially if you are trying to work as well. Putting a plan together will help you get through. 

Image credit: Canva

Get in touch with their school 

  • If your child is sick or isolating, email or phone the school to let them know. They will give you information about home learning that will make things easier.
  • Most schools send regular emails or newsletters out to keep parents up to date with information about school closures, and what home learning children should be doing and how to access it. 
  • If you don’t have email, your child may come home and tell you, or you may find out from someone else. You can phone the school for more information if needed.

Find out what they should be learning

The work children are expected to do while learning from home depends on whether they are at primary school, intermediate or high school. Also, it changes from school to school – some schools may run online classes all day, while others may have set tasks that need to be completed each day or week. 

  • If the school is closed, teachers will email out a timetable of work or tasks the children are expected to work on or complete each day or week.
  • Find out what online learning platforms the class is using and what resources the school is providing. 
  • If you don’t have access to the internet, many schools have hard copy resource packs available that you can pick up from the school or have sent out. 
  • If you haven’t heard from your child’s teacher, contact them by email or phone the school and ask what they need to be doing each day (especially for primary school kids).

Remember, you’re not expected to do the work of a teacher! Just do your best to get an idea of what they should be doing at home and help guide them. 

Online NZ resources 

If you need extra learning from home resources and guidance, visit www.learningfromhome.govt.nz. There’s a Parents and Whānau page and a Ki te Ao Mārama page with tailored advice and resources.

The Learning Resources page has:

There are also:

Set up a routine

Having a routine is a good way to manage the day. Routines help children feel secure and certain about what is expected of them. If you’re working from home, having the kids in a routine also helps you manage your own workload.

Have a routine that suits your whānau’s needs – but remember to be flexible because not everything will always go to plan! Get your children to help come up with a Monday–Friday home leaning routine that also works for them. It may change day to day depending on meetings and schedules. This will make them more likely to follow it.

Some ideas for a routine include: 

  • waking up the kids at a set time (eg, 8am). Getting them up early means they aren’t sleeping in all day and then staying up all night
  • having a set time to begin home learning (eg, 9am)
  • setting morning tea and lunch times
  • getting outside each day for fresh air and exercise
  • having a set bedtime (eg, 9.30pm).

It’s a good idea for kids to do more challenging work, like maths, in the morning when they’re feeling refreshed and able to concentrate better.

If you have any concerns or questions about your kid’s home learning, don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher or school. They’re ready and willing to help. 

Set up a workspace

To help your tamariki with their home learning, set up a good workspace for them. Younger kids may like to work near you or in a shared space such as the lounge, while older kids may work better alone. A good workspace: 

  • is quiet
  • has a table or desk to sit at
  • has room for books, pens, and papers etc
  • has fresh air
  • is light and sunny, not dark.

If your child has an online class, having a quiet space in a separate room with no distractions from other family members, pets or noise is helpful.

About devices

Many home learning tasks set by schools require the use of a device such as a laptop, iPad, Chromebook or desktop computer. 

  • If you don’t have a device for your child to use, contact their school. Many schools lend out devices for kids to use or they may be able to provide you with hard copy home learning tasks.
  • If you only have one device at home and it needs to be shared around, work out a schedule so everybody can have a turn using it.
  • Printing off hard copy tasks, especially for kids at primary school, means they don’t need a device to work off. They may prefer hard copy tasks as well. If printing at home isn’t possible, you could ask the school to print resources for you.
  • You may also have a friend or whānau member who can lend you a device. 

Practical home learning activities

Home learning can include practical activities the school doesn’t set. For example:

  • baking and cooking teach new skills and are a good way to practise maths by measuring ingredients
  • playing board games uses maths, reading and memory skills
  • sing waiata or sing (and dance) while listening to music together
  • kick a ball around the garden and get some exercise and fresh air at the same time
  • take some time to korero (talk)
  • look at photos of friends and whānau and share stories, whakapapa or family history.

Image credit: Canva

  • The Growing up in New Zealand website has a list of online activities for children, including maths, science, reading and arts and crafts activities.
  • For great tips on how to help your tamariki of different ages with reading, writing and maths, visit the govt.nz website.

Looking after your own hauora

When your kids are off school it’s normal to feel: 

  • stressed out
  • overwhelmed
  • like you wish your kids were back at school
  • exhausted
  • confused about home learning. 

Remember to look after your own wellbeing and hauora by: 

There are some wellbeing tips for parents working from home due to COVID-19 on the Health Navigator website and tips for looking after your mental wellbeing on the Unite Against Covid-19 website.

Support

If you or your whānau needs extra support, please reach out:

  • Whanau Ora for help with kai and other things 0800 929 282 
  • Need to talk? (1737– free call or text) any time for support from a trained counsellor
  • The Depression Helpline (0800 111 757) 757 or free text 4202 (to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions)
  • Healthline (0800 611 116)
  • Youthline (0800 376 633)
  • The Lowdown Text 5626 for support to help young people recognise and understand depression or anxiety.
  • Alcohol Drug Helpline (0800 787 797). 

(Health Navigator NZ and Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand, Waitematā, 2022)
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References

  1. Distance/hybrid learning support during interrupted learning Learning from home, NZ, 2022
  2. Home learning for children during COVID-19 isolation, quarantine or lockdown – tips Raising Children, Australia, 2022
  3. Ideas to help with reading, writing and maths Education Govt, NZ
  4. Our guide to online activities during lockdown Growing Up in New Zealand
  5. Education at home and tips for staying sane Grandparents raising Grandchildren, NZ
  6. Homeschooling, hybrid learning and finding balance during the pandemic Children's Hospital Colorado, US
  7. COVID-19 mixing work and parenting Health Navigator NZ
  8. Looking after your mental wellbeing Unite Against COVID-19, NZ
Credits: Health Navigator Editorial Team.