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Learning (and playing) at home

What's on this page

Here are our ideas and other people's. Please all read the NHS/CAMHS bit, but treat the rest as a library you can visit when you need, not a 'to do' list for the non-existent SuperParent. Treat yourself kindly.

Class Dojo

We use Class Dojo to join the playing to learn you do at home with what we do in school. When your child starts school with us you will get a username and password. Go to this link and choose 'Log in' from the top menu bar:

COVID help handbook for all families

This handbook has been made for all families by Waltham Forest Early Help. It includes all kinds of ideas and advice, from basic routines to helplines to links to things to do for free (if you can get online). Please flick through it so that you know what’s there when you need it. Download it at the bottom of the page:

Our thanks

Thanks in particular to the Early Years Team at Waltham Forest, the  Waltham Forest Parent Forum, Waltham Forest Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) and our friends at Sheringham Nursery School.

COVID-19 information, advice and support

NHS and government links

  1. Read what the government says everyone must do:
  2. The NHS link for the latest instructions:
  3. Sign up for regular emails from Waltham Forest (the Local Authority):
  4. Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy's page on  COVID-19 has links about sick pay, support for vulnerable people, rent, housing, business, employment, cancer patients, disability benefits and more. Go here to find the latest government response:

Community: give help and/or get it

Waltham Forest COVID19 community support groups:

Explaining to your child

  1. If you need help talking to your child about what is going on, download the Social Story and the visuals for words which relate to the situation at the bottom of this page. This New Zealand cartoon sets it out clearly for adults:

Help with anxiety

  1. Free online counselling for children and teenagers: if your child wants to talk to someone about how they are feeling about the stresses of being in this situation, they can call Kooth online children’s counselling service via:
    Your child needs to put in your postcode when they log on to the site.

  2. 5 ways to beat anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic by Dr Olivia Remes, Cambridge University:

COVID-19-specific parenting advice and support

  3. Surviving Self-Isolation with Differently-Wired Kids facebook page:

NHS/CAMHS Advice on coping when you are cooped up

  1. Make a timetable
  2. Parenting Tips
  3. Problem solving
  4. Other things to think about

Make a timetable

The children expect a routine at school, and it will make it easier if you also have one at home. You might need a picture time table or words if your child can read and prefers that. Make sure the children have a choice of activity and know how long it is going to go on for (using a timer the children can see). Here's an example:

Activity 1

Try and do some table top type work in the morning when the children are fresher and can manage a board game/cards/ touch typing course (See  BBC Bitesize online resources online resources) /drawing/modelling/Lego (see the Lego 30 day challenge further down this page) /jigsaws/pretend play if they are younger.


Exercise break

Jumping/dancing/skipping/balancing on one leg/running up and down the hall – even an exercise routine on the TV or YouTube – don’t forget to gradually calm the children down again by slowing down the music or the movements and finish with stretches.

Approach this one with caution, as although it will help them sleep, it is important to also do a calming activity so they are not overexcited too long in a small space!

Activity 2

see ideas for activity 1


Movement break

do some shorter stretches in the afternoon to keep them moving a bit

Activity 3

as above

Evening meal

Quiet time

Play/this is the TV or screen time!

Bath, shower or wash

Book and bed

and here's a more colourful one:

Proactive parenting tips

Consider motivation and rewards

  • Give your child a choice of motivation/rewards. Don’t just assume you know what they want - even our own preferences can change day by day. 

  • Using ‘First-Then’

Give it time

  • Habits take a while to develop. Similar to these tips and routines you put in place – keep persisting and give it time for both you and your child to adjust.

Be consistent

Consider task difficulty

  • You might need to break down the activity/task, e.g. if a worksheet had 10 questions, instead of expecting your child to complete all 10, maybe start off with just 5 then build it up gradually. Or you can break down the difficulty by giving your child more breaks to complete the activity.

Avoid empty promises and threats

  • If you’ve promised the motivation/reward after they have completed the activity, make sure you deliver it.  

  • Try to avoid threats if possible. But if it must be used – make sure it is fair for the child, and it is followed through.


  • Once you see your child getting frustrated/anxious, redirect their attention to something else can be helpful.

Offer alternatives

  • e.g. This can be choice of which activity to start with, choosing where to do the task, choice of using the blue or red pen, etc. Choice is particularly useful for children displaying oppositional behaviours.

Emotional regulation

  • Many children with learning difficulties or who are autistic struggle with emotions. This is a really good chance to teach emotions since they are in the safe home environment and with people they feel most safe with.

When behaviour that adults find difficult  happens

Experience tells us that behaviour we find difficult to deal with is more often than not a sign of stress: work out what is causing the stress and you stand a better chance of changing the behaviour.

Step 1: Be a detective! By recording and doing the STAR analysis (to help identify patterns of behaviour)

Settings: When does it happen?

  • Afternoon time? Non-preferred activities? E.g. Bobby is doing his homework

Actions: What does the child do exactly?

  •  NOT a description of how they are feeling. E.g. Bobby went downstairs, shouted and kicked sister very hard

Results: What happened immediately after the action?

  • Events that follow the action, affect the likelihood of that behaviour being repeated. E.g. Bobby yelled and ripped the paper. Result- the work was taken away to calm Bobby down. 

Triggers: Think about the causes of the behaviour.

  • Was the trigger 5 minutes or 5 hours ago?

Step 2: Creating Change with STAR

Consider your recorded information. Can you make any changes in relations to Settings, Actions, Results and Triggers?

Other things to think about

  • Parents: Need to look after yourselves.
    • What are your self care methods? How can you make sure you get your self care throughout the day or week?
  • Think about your environment.
    • Is there anything you can change that will help reduce stress/anxiety/distraction for your child AND yourself?
  • Facilitate peer play/ interactions via skype?
    • Apart from online computer games, through Skype your child and a peer might enjoy:  Drawing together (following instruction game where one person gives instructions on what to draw and later compare the pictures) , skype chess, noughts and crosses, etc …
  • This can be an opportunity to teach other life skills!
    • Cooking
    • Grocery shopping
    • Sewing
    • For older children who like numbers … You can teach them budgeting
    • Do the laundry
    • Cleaning the car
    • Deep clean
  • Mindfulness activities
  • Keeping a diary  OR ‘Book of success’ [doesn’t need to be handwritten can be audio recordings/typed on devices etc]
    • This can involve taking a picture of activity/highlight of the day, and recording down the specific behaviour to be praised in relation to the picture. “Baking cookies with my brother. We took turns and shared nicely when mixing the eggs”
  • See if you can make contact with other families online   - you are not on your own in this situation, and there are other families to talk to. You can contact your local parent’s group. There are twitter and face book groups further down this page.
  • Check in with friends and family so they can help if needed if you are not well or you need help looking after the children. If you become very unwell remember to please seek advice from NHS 111. You can do this online at

Where to get help: SEND, parenting, worried about a child

HENRY Best Start Service

Infant Feeding helpline 020  8496 5222

Healthy family and oral health practitioners and speech and language therapists call 020 8496 5223 or contact via email




You can speak to a Health Visitor or school nurse to discuss health well-being and child development issues by contacting our Clinical Duty team by calling 0300 300 1970 or email


The Lloyd Park Children’s Charity

Family Support e-mail

Baby Bank e-mail



Early Help Support

Early Help support will continue call 020 8496 2310 (Mon-Thurs 9am-5.15pm, Fri 9am-5pm) or 020 8496 3000 out of hours). You can also email

Website: Waltham Forest Directory Early Help

Citizens Advice

For the full range of Citizens Advice services please call 020 8509 6444 and leave a voice mail. An adviser will call you back the same day.


Sources of advice for SEND

Waltham Forest Parent Forum

Scope Family Services

Mencap helpline

National Autistic Society Help and Advice

Contact – for families with disabled children

Support for families with sick children

Parenting advice

NSPCC support for parents with young children

NSPCC support if you have a baby or toddler

NSPCC keep your child safe when they’re playing with your phone, tablet or online

NSPCC: children staying home alone

NSPCC parenting with mental health problems

MIND parenting with a mental health problem

Action for Children: confidential live chat with parenting staff 

Action for children: wellbeing

Worried about a child?

NSPCC are you worried about a child?

Make a stay at home bucket list or do the 30 day Lego Challenge

Get everyone together and make a bucket list of things each person wants to do. Or use this one:

and here's the Lego Challenge to keep you going:

30 day Lego challenge
Can you take pictures of what you make?

Join in  Waltham Forest Early Years Learning Together  Club 

Are you worried about keeping your children entertained during the time you may be spending at home or are you just looking for fun ideas to support your young child’s learning and development?

As we are all practising social distancing or having to self isolate, your children are probably a bit confused. They will be listening to everything that is going on around them, and most likely picking up on any tension or anxiety.

Over the coming weeks, you may start to see a change in your child’s behaviour. Whether it’s anxiety, anger or just a protest because they can’t do the things they would normally be doing. This is normal and expected under these circumstances.

What your child needs right now is to feel comforted and loved. Take this time to enjoy spending some quality time together. We want to help support you and your children to make a difficult situation just a little bit easier.

The Waltham Forest Early Years Team have created a fun home learning programme called Learning Together. Each week there will be:

  • Top Tips Tuesday fun activities to do together on an activities card.
  • Thumbs Up Thursday an opportunity to comment and show your involvement.
  • Share day Saturday a chance to celebrate your Learning Together activities.

To get involved in the Learning Together Community make sure you and your under five family community are following the Chit Chat Pitter Pat Facebook page and Instagram page:

Our mission is to create a Learning Together Community support network in Waltham Forest for us to support you and for you to support and inspire each other! We are really looking forward to working together with the under five’s family community.

Let’s see your thumbs up on Thursday!

Also...sign up for the Waltham Forest Early Years Newsletter if you haven't already:


Also have a look at the Waltham Forest project for getting children talking:

Find activities for you and your toddler or young child

In case you are tempted to arrange playdates, read this article first; it's still relevant!:


Here is the link to the Department for Education's activities to support under 5s playing and learning at home. You can search by age:


Different museums and institutions in Cambridge have put together lots of resources:


Indoor Activities for busy toddlers:


Ideas for playing together:


Movement and play activities:


This is a very simple and comprehensive list of 'free, online, boredom-busting resources':


This blog has links to all the educational companies offering free online courses, as well as places where you can find an endless supply of things to make and play:

Stories, books  and magazines


The Love My Books website has lots of ideas around sharing books at home and having fun together:

Helen Currie's Story Time

Other places to listen online





If you are on Twitter you can listen to Sir Patrick Stewart reading all of Shakespeare's sonnets:

and to David Walliams reading stories:


Read National Geographic Young Explorers magazine:

Podcasts recommended by Waltham Forest Parent Forum:

Barefoot Books Podcast
Circle Round
Peace Out
Purple Rocket
Sparkle Stories
Story Pirates
Story Time with Yarn Story Factory
What if World
Wow in the world

Child-friendly workouts

Arts and crafts

This blog has detailed links to all kinds of music, art, design, dance, movement, story, curated for Early Years:

Sign up here to get weekly Artist Activity Packs made by artists you may or may not have hear of:

Other places to look are:

Activities for toddlers and young children that involve a screen

Learn how to set up parental controls on the NSPCC website:

Online video and games

The amazing source of things to do, play and learn which is the BBC:


and similar from the American Public Broadcasting Service:


and with a science/geography/geology focus, there's National Geographic:


and online games provider:


Play games and learn all about animals:


History and science


Book publishers' online activities:



Compiled by Waltham Forest Parent Forum:

Any of the Orchard Toys Games
Castle Panic
Connect 4
Electric keyboard
Game of Life
Kids cluedo
Play doh
Pop to the Shops
Top Trumps
What am I?
Who’s who
Zeus on the Loose

YouTube channels to check out

Also thanks to Waltham Forest Parent Forum:

Brains On (Science)
Jack Hartman
Jeography songs for kids
Learning station
Little Stories for Tiny People
Science With Tom

TV you might all like

Any David Attenborough
Bear Grylls
Blue World TV
Chasing Monsters
Horrible Histories
Natural World
One Strange Rock
Orangutan Jungle School
River Monsters
Secrets of the Great British Castles
The who was show
The Wild Kratts
Time Team
You Vs Wild

Things for older children, teens and adults to do

Activities to do offline

  1. Fun things to do. Each challenge includes simple instructions using materials around the house, QR code video resources, and a student recording sheet:

  2. Knitting and crochet:

  3. Cooking:


  1. Children can learn how to care for themselves by seeing you care for yourself. Many people find yoga a good way to do this. Find out if this works for you by trying it in private with free and donation sessions, here and on YouTube:

  2. Meditation is good too:

Learn, practise or get help to learn something

  1. Free help with homework (for parents who are confused by their children's school work as well as for children!). This link explains how you access it:

  2. The Open University free courses:

  3. 2,500+ online courses from top institutions:

  4. Other free courses (and paid) from top institutions:, in particular from New York's  Museum of Modern Art, MOMA:

  5. Free courses from some Ivy League Universities in the USA:

  6. Free mini courses:

  7. Maths:

  8. Poetry and music:

  9. Word puzzles:

  10. All kinds of interesting videos:

  11. Science, geology and coding:

  12. worksheets

Museums and other places you can visit online

This article lists 25 museums and galleries where you can take a virtual tour: 

and this one has 17:

In particular:


The British Museum, located in the heart of London, allows virtual visitors to tour the Great Court and discover the ancient Rosetta Stone and Egyptian mummies.

Anyone interested in space can visit the NASA image gallery:

The San Diego Zoo has a website  with amazing videos, activities, and games. Enjoy the tour!

Tour Yellowstone National Park!

Explore the surface of Mars on the Curiosity Rover.

This Canadian site Farm Food 360 offers 11 Virtual Tours of farms from minks, pigs, and cows, to apples and eggs.

and when things get going again....

  1. Register here to take part in Local Authority activities for under 5s.
  2. A group of (Walthamstow) parents developed the Kinfo app to help them find meaningful, fun, enriching activities their families will enjoy. Every activity recommended by Kinfo has been tested by real kids, and approved by real parents: