Parents have been given a big chance to establish themselves as educators of their children as schools close their doors to help stop the spread of Covid-19.

That's the view of Napier city councillor Maxine Boag, a former teacher who once specialised in the field of resource teaching learning and behaviour, and also headed a Newspapers in Education project which preceded the modern form of media use in the classroom.

She says many homes will not have the online capacity of internet into their homes, but it is essential that parents about to spend an indefinite period of at least four weeks at home with their children – "no McDonalds, no KFC!" - need to take a positive approach from the start.

It may come down to using some of the basics to make the day interesting, she said.

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"Maybe the children can help with some baking."

Speaking as hundreds of thousands of children and young teenagers had their first day off school, not to return at least until the originally-scheduled second-term start date April 28, Boag said figures show part of her electoral ward as among those most significantly without internet access.

Surveys show 84 per cent of Napier households have internet access, but the proportion drops to 78 per cent across the ward, and just 51 per cent in the suburb of Maraenui.

She believes parents can set up educational and time-useful projects in the home, including rewards such as stars, home-made certificates, stickers and even TV-breaks.

Where the internet and devices are available it might include roping-in others confined to their own homes elsewhere, such as grandparents unable to visit their grandchildren during the crisis.

One example is a grandparent setting-up a daily quiz for the grandchildren, via Facebook.

"It has to be kept positive," she said.

Educators say the roles parents play will have a big impact on children's education, with maintaining routines being a key challenge, while providing unique opportunities.

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Among the opportunities is getting children working to a timetable in the home, so that the daytime is much like school but, with most parents also confined, enabling them to spend more time with their children.

Speaking at the daily media conference on Tuesday, Secretary for Education Iona Holsted said the absence of internet capability from homes was acknowledged and ways of alleviating the problem in distance education were being investigated.

Placing devices in homes was a possibility, she said, adding that crises and disasters "reveal inequities in our system – they don't create them".

"This might be an opportunity to give them more resources," she said.

The Ministry of Education has launched two new websites to support parents who will now be at home with their children, Learning from Home in English language and Ki te Ao Mārama in te reo Māori.