Children's social skills, confidence and speech were severely harmed by lockdowns
Surprised at these findings?
According to a new study by the U.K. government’s education authority, kids continue to struggle with basic skills such as writing and speaking in the wake of the Covid-19 lockdowns.
These were among the findings of a series of reports published last month by Ofsted, which were based on evidence from around 280 inspections of UK-based educational institutions across different age groups, as well as focus groups with the government department’s inspectors.
In the “early years” group, Ofsted found that education providers had noted delays in young children’s development of speech and language.
Some of these admitted they had also found that babies had struggled to respond to basic facial expressions, which they assumed could be due to reduced social interaction amid the coronavirus pandemic and associated lockdowns.
Lack of independence and confidence
Children are also noticeably lacking in confidence when it comes to group activities, some childcare providers said, noting that toddlers and pre-schoolers now seem to need far more help in learning how to share and take turns.
Some reported that children had regressed in their independence and self-care skills, prompting providers to spend longer with kids on physical activities, in order to help develop gross motor skills.
Working with children, the childcare staff had also noticed how the pandemic had affected young children’s physical development, such as a delay in babies learning to crawl and walk.
For older kids of school-going age, researchers concluded they were found to have gaps in math, phonics and “writing stamina,” something they put down to the fact that schools were closed for so long, meaning that the vast majority of children were dedicated at home for months on end.
Perhaps even more worrying, school children's mental health also remained a valid concern, with educators noticing lower levels of resilience and confidence, as well as increased anxiety, among students.
Studies and exams were affected too
As well as confidence and speech skills, schools reported that the lockdowns seem to also have affected which subjects students end up choosing.
For example, the researchers said, a few schools noticed that fewer students were choosing to study all of the main sciences — biology, chemistry and physics. And one educator believed that fewer students were choosing to study another language because they suffered from lower confidence following lockdowns.
Tech skills were affected too.
“For example, one school noted that pupils were only comfortable using touch-screen devices, so they have addressed this by focusing on using desktop computers,” the report said.
Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said that while progress had been made with efforts to help children catch-up on what they had missed, it was “clear that the pandemic has created some lingering challenges.”
“I’m particularly worried about younger children’s development, which, if left unaddressed, could potentially cause problems for primary schools down the line,” she said.