Homeschooling in lockdown has affected children’s developmental skills, with more anxiety

Staying confined indoors was necessary, however, it caused irreversible changes in our daily lives. Whether it’s working from home, studying from home, or dealing with complex relationship issues that arise when people are forced to stay indoors for months at a stretch.

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And now a new study pointed out that staying indoors during the lockdown has affected the learning process and development of children.

The study involved two groups of Uruguayan children aged four to six. One group with 34,355 children attended kindergarten from 2018 to 2019 before the pandemic and the other group with 30,158 children who attended kindergarten during the pandemic (2019-2020).

They used longitudinal information from the Uruguayan School Readiness and Child Development Inventory, data collected through a developmental assessment of children in public schools.

Children were assessed by teachers twice in grades four and once at the end of age five. They looked at a child’s frequency of specific cognitive, motor and social-emotional developmental behaviors during a typical school day over three to four weeks.

Researchers found that during the pandemic, the cognitive and motor development abilities of children at age 5 suffered significantly, especially with their attitudes towards learning. Additionally, the “stay-at-home” nature has resulted in children with underdeveloped motor skills.

The children were seen as avoidant and anxious most of the time, which the researchers blame could be due to increased parental stress or teacher stress. The children were also surprisingly less aggressive compared to the control group.

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Meliza Gonzalez, a researcher at the Universidad de la República, explained: “The losses in childrenm the most privileged schools were less pronounced. Similarly, children who had already struggled at age four in the classroom showed greater developmental losses, increasing the achievement gap.

Gonzalez added, “Findings can directly inform public policy by targeting interventions to children most at risk. This is particularly relevant to academic achievement since cognitive skills during the transition from preschool to primary school are predictors of later academic achievement, a phenomenon studied under the concept of ‘school readiness’.

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Sara H. Byrd