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Study Shows Impact Of School Closures On Preschool Children During COVID-19 by Society for Research in Child Development

Researchers found that during the pandemic, the cognitive and motor development skills of children at age five suffered the most followed by their attitudes towards learning. Stay-at-home measures also led to a drastic decrease in physical activity which may explain the underdevelopment in motor skills. Avoidant and anxious behaviors in children could be an indirect result of increased parental stress, or increased teacher stress. An unexpected finding was that the COVID cohort exhibited less aggressive behaviors when compared to the control group. School reopening conditions in Uruguay could explain this as this cohort had a lower child-teacher ratio and increased supervision of social interactions. “Losses among children from more privileged schools were less pronounced,” said Meliza Gonzalez, researcher at the Universidad de la República. “Relatedly, children who had already been struggling at age four classrooms displayed larger developmental losses, thus increasing the achievement gap. The findings can directly inform public policy by targeting interventions at children at greater risk. This is particularly relevant to educational achievement since cognitive skills during the transition from preschool to primary school are predictors of later academic outcomes, a phenomenon that is studied under the concept of ‘school readiness’.”

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