Information for Parents and Carers

This resource has been designed for the parents and carers of UNSW who have suddenly found themselves overwhelmed with the task of juggling their career, their child’s schooling and their household responsibilities simultaneously.

Parenting while juggling conference calls, emails, and tight deadlines is no easy task. Be kind and try not to put too much pressure on yourself! Remember, parents are a child's first and forever teacher. As a parent, you know your child best and are well placed to support them through this stage. Don’t feel overwhelmed by the amount of resources out there for learning. It is great that they are available, but this is also a great time to let kids be kids.

Most of the ideas and suggestions below are designed with the intention of keeping your child entertained with an educational task while you attempt to cross some things off your work to-do list. Others are just simple ideas of stage appropriate literacy activities that you can do together

General tips across all stages 

  1. Be positive about the opportunities that this unique set of circumstances provides. Tell your child that this time is exciting and an opportunity to do schooling differently, to spend more time with their parents, design their day to look how they want it, and have more play time
  2. Prioritise play:
    1. This does not need to be an expensive time. Play is free and kids should be doing this as much as possible. When you are making or designing learning experiences, use what you have on hand, recycle, and use natural materials from outsid
  3. Establish a routine:
    1. Using a visual timetable can be helpful for younger kids: for an example click here. The timetable could be laminated with magnets attached to the back and children can move the components each day to design their own experiences.
    2. Give your child some autonomy. Allow your child to create their own structure or timetable for the day, combining their ideas and home learning. If they try and schedule double PlayStation every morning, then it’s probably time for parents to step in, but try giving them the option first.
    3. For those children who thrive on structure, use familiar programs and timetables that they are already familiar with from school, such as using terms like arts and craft, free play, lunch and reading time.
    4. Try not to overschedule. This is an opportunity to slow down the pace and learn more authentically than a crowded school curriculum sometimes allows for. Depending on the age, formal learning should only be one to two hours a day in small chunks, broken up with lots of time to read, play, be bored and get outside (if possible).
  4. If you have more than one child at different stages, ask your elder child to teach an easy skill to your younger one. Or ask your younger children to seek help from their older siblings before escalating the problem to you.
  5. Incorporating a daily ritual as a family for overall wellbeing can be helpful to start everyone’s day on a positive note. Some ideas include:
    1. Having a 10-minute dance-off
    2. Doing a family workout together, for example P.E with Joe
    3. Writing down one thing you are grateful for each day
    4. Engaging in a short meditation together: here are some apps you can use
    5. Making a nutritious breakfast: Phenomenom! offers a range of videos, podcast and printed resources designed to get kids excited about healthy food, especially vegetables. The Nomster Recipe Library provides illustrated recipe picture books to get kids excited about cooking. 
  6. Focus on literacy and numeracy every day:
    1. Try not to get overwhelmed attempting to keep up with your child's curriculum. If you can, just try to focus on a bit of literacy and numeracy every day. You can make these explicit in everyday tasks such as cooking, playing sport, gardening and games. These activities are not only fun and aid in teaching life skills, but they also enrich their academic development.
  7. Use screen time strategically: if you know you will have conference calls or virtual meetings during the day and need quiet time, reserve use of screen time for these times in particular.
    1. If you want to put on a movie, you can search the Raising Children Movie Reviews page for age suitability.
    2. If you want to throw on a Disney movie, a legend of a primary school teacher has designed a series of tasks you can set for your children that link to a five week Disney curriculum.
    3. If you want to allow some child friendly video content, download YouTube Kids as this reduces the risk of children stumbling onto unsuitable content.

For some answers to parent FAQs regarding discussing the virus with children see here. There are also coronavirus storybooks that would be good for younger children available free online here and here.

    Home based learning

    • You can conduct an easy home science experiment by making play dough with your child using flour, salt and water. Ask them to use the play dough to create some art, while you do some work. You can then bake their creations in the oven and ask your child to paint them. For an easy to follow instructional video on making playdough click here.
    • You can also make a fun and educational sensory bin for your child to explore, create, and learn with while engaging their senses and developing their fine motor skills. For 10 great ideas of household materials that can be used to make a sensory bin, and instructions, click here. To develop their vocabulary encourage them to describe what they are experiencing; for example, is the object hard, soft, slimy, firm, spiky, bumpy, etc.
    • Playgroup NSW lists a range of activities for pre-schoolers to encourage solo play, from dress ups to puzzles and colouring in books. If you're stuck thinking of ideas, a few suggestions are listed here. They also explore an extensive range of joint activities for you to do together here.

    Literacy and numeracy

    • Peg play is a great way to improve fine motor skills, engage in experimental play and practise sorting and counting. It is a low mess and easy to set up activity. Create a makeshift clothesline and set your child some tasks such as sorting small laundry items by size, colour or number and hanging them on the line to dry.
    • Reading to your child is an important tool in literacy development. The Let’s Read website is a great resource containing reading tips sheets and book suggestions for children aged three to five years old. Storyline Online is a great literacy resource that assists by having other people read to your child when you need a break. You can also ask your child to draw a picture of the story when the reading is finished.
    • The creators of the classic Gruffalo books, Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler, have written some great rhyming books that you can read to your children, listed here. There’s also a series of verbatim short animated films that will complement their understanding of the books and hold their attention, allowing you to focus on other things. These films are currently available on ABC iView Kids under the ‘Special Treats’ section, with a new one coming out every Saturday at 5:15pm.

    Home based learning

    • Invite the family to a surprise dinner! Get your child to write with meaning by having them copy the details of an old invitation, appropriate it, and write one out for every member of your household. They can make and decorate envelopes and hand deliver the invitations. Family members could even dress up and you could make a fun family night of it.
    • To assist in numeracy literacy, you could create a simple menu, list a price for each item, and help your child add up the bill for each family member. You can also practise counting as you go by working out how many people, how many forks, how much cutlery in total, etc.
    • Set a new Lego challenge for your child to complete every day by writing a month’s worth of creative challenges on a calendar (e.g. build a pirate ship, construct an airport, etc.). Ask your child to locate the date on the calendar, read out the details of the day’s task and then complete the challenge with a certain number of blocks. This is a great activity for developing numeracy and literacy skills while encouraging problem solving and creativity.

    Literacy and numeracy

    • There are some great apps out there for helping children develop their numeracy and literacy skills. A widely popular one is the ABC Reading Eggs app, which has fun and interactive lessons teaching children phonics, sight words and essential reading skills needed for school. It costs money to subscribe, but you can trial it for a month for free before you commit. You can download it here.
    • Jack Hartmann has a YouTube channel that offers some great literacy warm up activities that your child could do every day. From letter sounds, to dancing and counting to 100 by ones, twos and fives. Check it out here.
    • Practise adding and subtracting together using dice and some counters (beads, blocks or whatever is on hand). Distribute them evenly, then take turns rolling the dice – if your child rolls a two then they will take two counters away from you, if you roll a five you take five away from them, and then continue. This is a simple task that teaches your child to add and subtract.
    • Ask your child to walk around and find shapes in the house. Can they draw any of these shapes? Can they find more than one? Talk to them about how many sides and corners the shapes have.
    • Sight and high frequency words are important at this stage and there are some fun and creative ways to practise them around the house. Children can use a torch and trace them on a wall, put shaving cream on glass and write, use magnet letters on the fridge, or even make letters with play dough.

    Home based learning

    • Getting children to help with cooking is a great way to improve literacy and numeracy.

    Discussing maths when cooking can provide a daily maths lesson involving measurement, time and cost. Here are some activities you could try at home:

    1. Collect and read recipes and discuss the use of fractions, millilitres and grams. Encourage your child to make accurate measurements using measuring cups and spoons.
    2. Discuss how you would double or halve a recipe. Encourage your child to record new measurements for the recipe. Discuss why and when you might need to do this.
    3. Identify the temperature and cooking time on the recipe. Discuss why different recipes have different temperatures and cooking times.
    4. Estimate the cost to buy all the ingredients to make the recipe. Compare this with the actual cost of items. Ask your child if they think it was cheaper to buy the ingredients and make dinner or get takeaway.
    5. Make a list of the abbreviations used in the recipe and then write them in full – for example, L for litre, ml for millilitre, tsp. for teaspoon, tbsp. for tablespoon.
    6. Investigate the prices of fresh fruit and vegetables available in the supermarkets compared with market vendors. Use catalogues or websites where possible to avoid going to the shops.
    7. You can also ask your child to read you the ingredient list and instructions for recipes.
    • Make a curiosity bag – Use a box or bag and put six to eight objects around the house in it, which have different shapes, sizes, textures and materials. Get your child to select an object in the box (objects should never be seen by the child) and get them to use descriptive words to describe the object so that siblings can guess what the object is. If they need help ask them if the object is: hard/soft, spiky/smooth/hairy, flat/bent/angular/curved, sticky/fluffy, wet/dry and made/natural.

    Creating educational artwork to display in a child’s room or around the house can be a great way to encourage learning through play. For example, creating a poster or infographic around a topic the child has an interest in, designing a new cover for a book the child has been reading, or creating a sculpture using recycled items from around the house.

    Literacy and numeracy

    • Get your child to read a book. Before they start reading, get them to write a paragraph predicting what they think the book will be about. Prompt them by asking them to look at the title, the blurb (back of book) and any images and to draw on their prior knowledge.
    • Create an interesting word list, which should include any words that are new/different/uncommon to your child.
    • Write a summary about the book.
    • Was the story similar/different from your prediction?
    • Draw a new front cover for the front of your book.
    • Using a ruler or tape measure, children can measure the sides of different objects around the house and add all sides together to find the perimeter. To challenge your child, they can measure and record the perimeter of their rooms. Ask them to draw what they find.

    Interactive storytelling

    • To promote storytelling in young children it is important to give them structure. This can be done by simply giving them a setting, event and character to work with. They could take pictures of real life objects to create these stories. For example, taking a picture of the kitchen as a setting card, a picture of the dog as the character and spilling of milk as an event card. You could also use dress ups for storytelling.  For further ideas and resources click here.
    • You can also ask your children to write plays that the family can perform together or watch children perform during family time.
    • There are online games for maths such as Yahtzee and Mathletics. (Most school kids already have a login from school for these.)
    • For numeracy you can give children real life scenarios to work with, such as giving them a budget for grocery shopping for that week and getting them to work out what they can purchase, and getting them to plan trips by working out how far they need to travel, the distance to your destination, and how long it is going to take, etc. For more ideas about how to do numeracy around the house click here .
    • Free David Walliams audiobooks:
    • Draw numbers using chalk on the ground and ask children to jump to answers or jump in patterns.



    These are some interactive websites that have some great ideas if you would like to set up some science activities/experiments for your child.


    Home based learning (project based learning)

    Ask your child to think of a new and innovative product that could be used by an individual or a special group of people (e.g. a child, adult, family or community group) to help them cope with this new way of life. An easy way to think of a product is to think of a problem or challenge first and then brainstorm ideas of ways to solve that problem/challenge. Then ask them to create a:

    • Sketch of the product including labels, dimensions and the materials that will be used in construction
    • If it is a digital resource, then have them sketch what the landing page will look like
    • Create a marketing campaign to advertise their product. Design an Instagram advertisement for their product. You can also ask them to write a script for a YouTube advertisement and then have them perform it for you.  
    • Using material from around the house could they design and build a prototype of this product? Prototypes do not have to be perfect.



    Ask your children to read a short story from the database above and then write a summary no more than half a page long.  To develop some literacy skills, ask them to rewrite the story from the perspective of someone else in the story. If they are capable, ask them to rewrite the story using different themes, for example a zombie apocalypse.

    Have your child begin a diary of their experiences while in lockdown. How are they feeling, how are the other members of their family feeling? What has been their greatest challenge, what challenges have they overcome? What have they learned today? This will develop their writing skills as well as provide a great record in the future of their experiences while in isolation.

    Thinkwritten – Supplies parents with 300 creative writing prompts for kids.



    Ask your child to work out the area of your home or apartment in their steps. Firstly, get them to draw the layout of your living space on a piece of paper; if you have a yard or outside area you can include that as well. Instead of using a ruler or tape measure, have them walk the length and width of each room in their steps. Try to make sure that the same step size is used for each step to ensure the most accurate measurement. Once they have paced out each room’s length and width, have them write down on their plan how many steps the side of each room is. Now calculate the area (steps squared or steps2 ) of each room. Now add all the rooms together, plus your yard if you have one, to calculate the total area in steps of your living space.

    How you can help improve the numeracy of your child while at home with Everyday numeracy:

    Educational virtual tour resources, including supported pre- and post-tour activities:

    More online resources



    YouTube channels:



    ABC Education has more than 1,500 English and Maths resources, including videos, digibooks, and games and interactives – all free and all mapped to the Australian Curriculum.

    Here are their top 10 literacy and numeracy resources for primary school aged kids:

    The Raising Children website is a comprehensive, current and evidence-based resource covering a wealth of information and resources for parents and carers of children of all ages – including articles, videos and interactive resources. Visit

    Scholastic has created a free learn-from-home site with 20+ days of learning and activities:…/learnathome.html

    All in One Home School has a free curriculum with everything from preschool activities to year 12:

    This includes a list of thinking games by grade:

    More free learning websites


    Be aware many podcasts currently have episodes on COVID-19 which can assist in explaining the situation to children.

    • WOW in the World for science
    • Storytime for downtime
    • Short and Curly for ethical dilemmas (social sciences)
    • Brains On!
    • This Kid Life

    Facebook groups to join for ideas

    • Australia Home School Help COVID-19
    • Playgroup at Home
    • Family Lockdown Tips and Ideas