New report finds preschoolers continue to lose learning opportunities from the pandemic
Early learning experiences at home and in classrooms build the foundations for children’s later success in school and life. The pandemic has upended home life and preschool programs, making it more challenging for both parents and communities to provide optimal learning experiences for young children. These changes are likely to have important consequences for young children’s learning and development (social, emotional, physical, and cognitive) and mental health. A new report from National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) found Children from 3 to 5 years of age have lost important learning opportunities due to the pandemic.
The report found the pandemic resulted in significant loss of important learning opportunities for young children through the fall into December 2020. Participation in preschool programs declined sharply from pre-pandemic levels. Although most who attended preschool programs did so in-person, this was not true for young children living in poverty who had less than 1/3 the access to in-person education of children in higher income families. According to the report, parent support for learning through book reading and teaching basic skills also declined sharply— leading to children losing learning opportunities both at home and in preschool programs. Not surprisingly, parents reported unusually high rates of social-emotional or mental health problems for their young children.
The findings from the report show that young children learn best from hands-on activities and face-to-face interactions. Other major findings include participation in center-based preschool programs remaining substantially below pre-pandemic levels. Much of what participation did occur was not in-person, and many more young children had high levels of social and emotional difficulties than expected. You can read the full report here.