How Covid has Affected Childhood Education and Development

How Covid has Affected Childhood Education and Development.




How Covid has Affected Childhood Education and Development

The covid-19 pandemic has affected every area of our lives. As the virus spread around the world, governments took extreme measures to reduce and prevent more infections. The initial response was lukewarm, with many countries expecting that the virus would slow down and eventually fizzle out. However, the pandemic kept spreading rapidly, and death tolls rose at an alarming rate. Given the highly infectious nature of the virus spread through human contact, the best way to reduce its spread was to limit contact between people. All public facilities such as schools, restaurants, public transport, and other non-essential services were shut down for months on end. One of the groups of people affected by the spread of the pandemic is young children. The pandemic interrupted normal learning as most schools switched to online classes, while others in developing nations had learning completely shut down. The covid 19 pandemic has mainly had an adverse effect on young children’s education and development both in the short term and long term.

School is an integral part of childhood development. During their early years in school, children learn to socialize with their peers, guided by their teachers, parents, and guardians. The environment has a significant impact on the development of a child. For example, a child who grows up in a stimulating environment has healthier growth and development because they have many learning and development opportunities. In school, children interact, explore and discover new ideas. At home, busy adults may not have enough time and skills to encourage children’s growth and development. In such a case, school becomes an integral part of childhood as children interact with trained professionals. Covid-19 made all of this impossible as schools had to be shut down to prevent the spread of the virus.

Closing of schools negatively affects the physical wellbeing of children. The school environment has many benefits for children’s physical and mental wellbeing as many schools encourage physical activity as part of children’s education. Children get to play outside with their peers, improving their physical health. Janssen and LeBlanc carried out a study to investigate the benefits of physical activity for children and youth between the ages of 5-17. They concluded that children who spent at least 30 minutes engaged in physical activity have better health than those who did not. Some major areas of benefit include cardiovascular health, musculoskeletal health, and mental health. Different countries have different recommendations for physical activity in children.

The closing of schools and other public spaces during the covid 19 pandemic has put children at risk of physical illnesses such as diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. Duntol et al. carried out a study to determine the health effects of inactivity on children aged 5-13 during the pandemic. Most children get their daily exercise in school, public parks, and other public spaces. 90 % of children get their daily dose of exercise from unstructured activities such as running around in school or parks. Other sources of exercise include taking walks, team sports, and class activities. The pandemic led to the closing of areas where children used to exercise, and they engage in more sedentary behavior such as watching TV and spending time on the internet. The lack of physical activity increases the likelihood of children developing serious illnesses. The researchers found that the change from daily physical activity to sedentary lifestyles during the pandemic might persist over time, increasing the risk of children developing serious illnesses such as diabetes and obesity in the future.

Another negative consequence of the covid-19 pandemic on childhood education is that schools switched from in-person to online learning. Although children could keep up with their lessons, they missed out on other important aspects of being in school. The physical classroom environment teaches children essential skills such as cooperation, empathy, and asking for help. The pandemic has robbed children of all these as most of the time they are alone at home while attending their online classes. They do not have the support of their teachers and peers in the same way that they would in the classroom. Online learning presents a new set of challenges, such as a lack of motivation. In class, children feel motivated to complete their tasks as they see their peers busy at work, and teachers supervise them closely. Children may not put the same effort into online classes as they would in person, making the learning process less effective. Some children struggle to keep up as they do not get the same attention from their teachers.

The covid 19 pandemic has also affected the mental wellbeing of children. Before the pandemic, children spent a lot of time with their caregivers, such as their parents, other family members, babysitters, and other adults. When governments imposed quarantine to slow the spread of the pandemic, children lost access to many of their caregivers. This separation affects their mental wellbeing in several ways. Liu et al. explore the ways in which quarantine affected the mental health of children in China. They reported that children were likely to develop acute stress disorder due to isolation from their usual environment and companions. Children whose parents and caregivers were isolated or hospitalized during the pandemic experienced a lot of stress and trauma. The loss of a parent or companion to the virus also leads to grief and sadness in a child. Some children had to be taken into social care due to the loss of their parents and guardians, affecting their mental wellbeing and putting them at risk of mental health disorders as they grow up. The findings from China reflect those from other countries around the world as children experienced the same conditions during the pandemic.

The covid 19 pandemic created inequality in childhood education and development. Before the pandemic, there already existed a divide between children from wealthy and low-income backgrounds, and the pandemic exacerbated this. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds already showed lower levels of achievement than those from well-off backgrounds, which was worsened during the pandemic. One reason for this is that the pandemic has affected the employment and income of many families across the world, which trickle down to the learning experiences of children. Andrew et al. collected data on children aged 4-15 years in the UK, selected through random sampling. Parents and children filled out questionnaires on how they spent their time during a weekday, including the activities they did and resources used. They found disparities between children from different economic backgrounds. Those from low-income homes had limited resources such as computers and study spaces. Additionally, their schools offered less support for learning, such as online chats, video conferencing, and online lessons. In contrast, children from well-off families had adequate learning resources and support from their schools. Income and economic background have a significant impact on children’s education, and this study shines the light on how the pandemic has increased the differences.

The pandemic will also create a gap in learning outcomes, especially among those with learning difficulties and younger children. Children with learning difficulties such as dyslexia, language processing disorder, and others are especially affected by the changes in learning. These children require special attention from their teachers, which may not be possible during the pandemic. While other children continue to progress with their regular lessons, those with learning disabilities will be left behind, making their education journey even more difficult. Younger children just starting their journey in education have also been affected by the pandemic. Children in pre-school and lower levels are still learning critical skills such as reading and writing. When these children spend long periods of time outside school, they tend to forget the skills they have been taught. They also find it more difficult to grasp such skills online compared to in-person learning, where teachers help them out in case of any challenges.

Another effect of covid 19 and childhood development has to do with nutrition. Nutrition is a significant part of children’s development and wellbeing. For many children, school is the main source of their nutrition. Children receive at least one meal in school, and for some children, school is the only place they can get a decent meal. The closing of schools affected the nutrition of millions of children across the world. For example, developing countries have comprehensive feeding programs for children from low-income families. When schools closed, such children also lost their source of food. This situation is not just unique to children from poorer nations but affects children from all countries. The United Nations Department of Agriculture, alongside other school feeding programs like the School Breakfast Program, fed approximately 35 million children in schools every day before the pandemic. When schools closed down, it became more difficult to reach the beneficiaries of the program, posing a major threat to the nutritional needs of the children. Inadequate nutrition leads to problems such as lower immune response, poor academic performance, as well as long-term psychological and developmental problems.

Covid-19 has also affected teachers who play a major role in childhood education. Teachers play a significant role in the learning and development of children, and the pandemic has affected them as well. As learning changed from in-person to online learning, teachers had to come up with new strategies. A study was conducted to find out teachers’ attitudes to changes in learning as a result of the covid 19 pandemic. The study involved sixteen teachers who detailed their experiences with online learning. One of the teachers explained that online learning allowed children to keep up with their education, which is a positive step. Schools remained closed for months, meaning that children would have lost a lot of time without online learning. Most of the teachers interviewed explained that although online learning is not as efficient as in-person learning, it was a good way to help children keep up with their schoolwork.

One challenge of online learning is that teachers could not get immediate feedback from their students as they would in class. One-on-one interaction helps teachers assess their students’ understanding, which is more difficult with online learning. Lack of interaction proved to be the biggest challenge for the teachers involved in the study. Infrastructural problems such as limited access to computers and reliable internet also proved problematic. Although the teachers tried to keep their lessons as similar as possible, the online teaching format did not appeal to all students as was expected. Students’ attention was affected during online classes due to the different environments.

During the covid-19 pandemic, parents have had to take a more active role in their children’s education and development. This involvement has both positive and negative aspects to it. On the positive side, children and parents get to spend more time together, during ordinary times, working parents spend limited time with their children based on their work schedule. However, formally employed parents spent more time at home during the pandemic as their offices were closed down. Children also stayed home as schools were closed, giving them more time with their parents. This situation strengthened the relationship between them and allowed parents to learn more about their children. Parents took on a more hands-on approach as children relied on them to help with their homework and other school-related tasks. A strong relationship with parents leads to better developmental outcomes in children.

On the negative side, parents experienced a lot of stress when dealing with their children’s education, which in turn affects the children. Parents have faced significant changes in their own lives, which also affect their children. During the pandemic, many parents lost their sources of income, making it difficult to provide for their children. Loss of income affects the development of children. Morelli et al. analyze the effects that parents’ stress has on the emotional development of children. The study involved parents with children between the ages of 6 and 13. During this time, parents were the only reference point for the children as they were quarantined away from their teachers and other adults in their lives. It was found that high stress levels in parents negatively affected the emotional development of children. Parents experienced stress from being infected with covid 19, having family infected with the virus, loss of jobs and income, among others. Parents who had higher levels of self-confidence and efficacy promoted positive emotional development in their children. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, such parents managed to reassure their children, keep them organized and informed on what was happening around them.

The covid-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences on the lives of millions of people across the world. Children have been uniquely affected during this time as well. Education is a vital part of children’s growth, and this has been put at risk due to schools closing. Children, their families, and teachers have had to make many adjustments due to the covid-19 pandemic. Huge changes such as the closure of schools and restriction of movement especially affect children who may not understand what is happening. The covid-19 pandemic has impacted children’s mental, physical and social development. The pandemic has also increased inequalities in education among children from various economic backgrounds. Parents and teachers have also had to adjust to the new changes during the pandemic as they try to support the children in their care. Although the covid-19 pandemic has completely changed our way of life, people have to find a way to adapt to the new situations as they wait for life to go back to normal. One way for children to deal with this is through online learning, which helps them keep up with their school work. The effects of covid-19 on children’s education and development are likely to last for years to come, meaning that concerned parties have to come up with ways to help children get back to normal.


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