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Highlees Primary School

Primary School

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Lockdown Tips

Top Tips for Parents at home during lock-down.


  1. Try to have fun. Your child will learn much better when you introduce an element of play. Learning can happen in all sorts of situations. Look for learning opportunities in the everyday: Can you see letter B on the cereal packet? How many slices can we get from this loaf? How many times do you need to chew this food before you’re happy to swallow it? How many steps are there in the staircase? Can you throw the ball of socks on the word ‘the’, ‘and’ ‘them’ for example/go and stand by the word (if papers with the word written on them are placed on the floor) Make it as active and fun as possible. 

  2. Find natural learning situations. Bake/cook together and discuss which order you have to do the steps. First this, then that. Involve them in housework like sorting laundry, discuss car number plates/colours of cars, when out walking. Get them to focus on one thing they can hear, 2 things they can feel, 3 things they can see etc when you’re out. Watch a TV programme/movie and get them to talk about the film afterwards. This will help them to process and organise their ideas and process it better. 

  3. Create time urgency.  Use a timer to show how short the task will be. No more than 5 minutes/task for each but shorter for younger children. Set a competitive element ‘I bet you can’t do 5 of these’ or ‘See how many you can do in 2 minutes’ How many can you think of in 1 minute’.

  4. Organise a routine. Get up at the same time every day and work out a schedule with your child and other family members.  When do they want to do the work that needs doing? When are they going to be in contact with the school? Work around the slots to build in relaxing things, outside exercise and other energising indoor activities like dancing (see below).Setting a joint schedule will also help your child to organise and plan their time, skills they will need more and more as they get older. 

  5. Smile. Children look to the adults in their life for re-assurance especially in these stressful times. If you look at them and give them a big smile, their nervous system literally calms down and they feel instantly re-assured. This is very important if you’re going to sit down and do formal learning with them in something they’re not very confident in. For that same reason it can also be important not to discuss your own fears and worries in front of the child because anxiety is very easily transmitted from parent to child. Try to remain positive and calm. 

  6. Use the TV/movies. Get them to watch a movie and tell the you will be asking them 5 questions about it afterwards. This will give you a break and keep them engaged in something but it will also be a social activity as you talk about it afterwards. 

  7. Move. We all feel so much better and learn better when we’re active and moving. Go outside at least once/day. Play ‘Follow the Leader’ and think up different  moves; hopping, skipping, running backwards etc in the park and take turns at leading. When you say a certain word you all have to ‘freeze’. This helps impulse control and self-regulation. Dance inside, copy each other, do funny moves, pull funny faces, freeze. Take turns choosing one song each and explain why you like it!

  8. Create novelty. Although routine and planning is also important it can also be really helpful to create a sense of novelty and surprise. Our brains thrive on novelty and tend to tune in more when something occurs out of the ordinary. This is not true for all children of course and some will not respond well to surprises and changes so you will know your child best. 

  9. Read. If your child is not yet reading independently read to them and point to the words as you read. Don’t make them read texts that may be too difficult and leave them struggling with ‘sounding out words’; tell them the word and move on. When you’re reading with them the aim is to make it fun and relaxing and make them want to read for themselves.  If they are able read most words,  you can read every other word, every other line etc to make it fun and collaborative.

  10. Short and Sharp. It’s much better to have several short sharp mini-sessions of learning than one long hour that your child is resisting. 5 effective minutes is better than 30 minutes of complaining and refusing. ‘Sandwich’ a brief learning task in between another two tasks they enjoy such as drawing, and start and end on a fun note.

  11. Dedicated Space. If you are using the kitchen table as a learning space, move away all other things that could be distracting so you have a clean table. Have a cardboard box with all the learning stuff, like papers, pens, scissors, crayons etc and when you’ve finished the session move it all out of the way again. Having it lying around can cause anxiety both for you and your child so make sure that when you are not working, you’re not working and trying to have fun and when you’re studying you’re only studying (for brief periods) 

  12. Look after yourself. If you are stressed and overwhelmed it is harder for you to be available for your child, so in order to help your child you need to be kind to yourself, so ‘cut yourself some slack’. The most effective way is to connect with other people (we evolved as social animals) and to have someone to speak to but this is also the aspect that is hardest in these circumstances. Connect via Zoom to your family and friends if you can. If not, perhaps you can go for a socially distanced walk with another parent at the school or a friend? Speak on the mobile to a friend? Make efforts to connect with people that you’ve perhaps let go or lost touch with. 

  13. Breath. One of the most effective ways to calm ourselves down is to take a few deep breaths, deep into the lower part of your belly; ‘Diaphragmatic breathing’. When you feel frustration building up try and take a few breaths, and if you can, try sitting with your eyes closed and just focus on feeling your breath fall in and out. This can be as little as one minute and still be effective. Many ‘mini breaks’ during a day can make a huge difference. 

  14. Talk to the school. If you’re worried or finding something difficult to do, talk to the school about it. They will more than likely be able to re-assure you or provide some support or activities that you can try. 

  15. Accept Anxiety in these abnormal times. Accept that it is normal to feel anxious when life has changed so fundamentally and there are many situations that are totally new to us and uncertainty is so intense. It would be ‘abnormal’ not to feel anxious in these situations. The problem is not with you or your child, it is with the situation.  All we can do is accept the feelings, try to deal with them and move on. It will change, it will pass. We just don’t know when, so focus on ‘one day at a time’ and try not to worry too much about the bigger picture that we can’t control at all. Focus on what you can control.