The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down for everyone, but none more so than parents and their children. School and childcare routines were effectively thrown into disarray and families had to scramble to figure out the best way to juggle home and work life. Yet, as parents, you aren’t the only ones struggling to get used to this new routine – so are your kids.
The question that has been on the lips of many parents, educators, doctors, and psychologists is how much of an impact this global pandemic has had on children from a development standpoint, especially in terms of socialization, education, basic motor skills, and mental health.
In this article, we are going to look at current data surrounding child development and COVID, and which child development stages parents should be most aware of right now.
COVID-19 and Child Development: What is Data Showing Us?
Kids are at risk of being one of the biggest victims of the Coronavirus pandemic. The profound changes that they have gone through in recent months have led experts to believe that the developmental impact will be lifelong.
According to data released by Unicef, an astounding 463 million children worldwide were unable to access remote learning after schools and childcare services were shut down with the aim of stopping the spread of COVID. Although many child care providers and educators in the United States have been able to respond quickly to the need for online learning tools, this study shows that child development for many has already been stagnated.
Limited access to early childhood education and childcare services during this period isn’t the only trend when it comes to child development and the pandemic. Children are now relying fully on their parents to fulfill their developmental and educational needs. This added burden on families combined with economic instability has led some home environments to become toxic.
In order for a child to fully flourish from a developmental perspective, they need to be in an environment that is engaging, stimulating, and provides lots of social interaction. As a parent who works part or full time, you know that this isn’t always the easiest thing to achieve. Without the level of engagement and social interaction that schools or child care providers provide, many kids can begin to regress.
Additionally, living in isolation and not being able to interact with extended family members such as grandparents on a regular basis is thought to have serious consequences on the social and emotional development of a child.
Which Areas of Child Development Do Parents Need to be Most Aware of Right Now
Early child development stages revolve around four categories: physical, emotional, mental, and social skills. While a child’s needs evolve as they get older, as do their developmental milestones, these core areas need to be engaged regularly.
This stage of child development refers to basic motor skills such as rolling around, walking, using hands to grasp at objects, drawing, or playing. Mastering these basic motor skills is vital for young children. As a parent caring for your kids during COVID, it is important to ensure that your child has adequate opportunities each day to improve these skills.
Creative play is a great example and used by many child care providers. This technique involves engaging your child in fun and imaginative activities such as painting, drawing, or storytelling. Activities like these not only improve their fine motor skills but also encourage emotional and social growth.
As part of early childhood education, coaching your child on how to react in various situations and how to identify how they are feeling is vital for personal development. Focusing on your child’s emotional skills should be a high priority during the pandemic, especially as it is such an uncertain time.
To support your child’s emotional development, ensure that you are engaging them in quality interactions like these on a daily basis, depending on the age of your child:
- Nurturing – Hold, comfort and talk with your child
- Provide “give and take” experiences – Playing peek a boo with your baby is a great way to help them experience the feeling of happiness and joy
- Encourage them to express their emotions creatively or through language – Tantrums will happen and it is a normal developmental process. However, it is generally a sign that your child doesn’t understand how to express their emotions in an alternative way. Choose activities that encourage your child to process how they feel such as painting a picture or reading a book that sparks a conversation about certain emotions.
Mental or cognitive skills refer to those skills that are often worked on in preschool and beyond: thinking, learning, problem-solving, reasoning and remembering. It is true when they say that a child’s brain is like a sponge, but without regular stimulation, it is possible for your child to lose confidence in their mental skills.
Activities that support cognitive growth should be encouraged as part of a daily routine no matter what age your child is. For babies that are between the ages of 3 to 12 months, reading books, singing songs, and playing with stacking toys encourage understanding and problem-solving.
If your child is of preschool age, playing simple board games like ‘Snakes and ladders’ or building a jigsaw puzzle together is a great way to keep their mental skills engaged and sharp.
Developing social skills help your children to learn how to make and maintain relationships, how to cooperate, and how to be sensitive when responding to others. Interactions with family, friends, teachers and strangers are essential for supporting this child development stage.
As the ability to socialize has been directly impacted during COVID-19, parents will need to continue to get creative about how they can keep in touch with others outside of the household such as by talking to friends and family via video chat, writing letters, or meeting with others in an open space and keeping six-feet apart.
Vivvi: How We Are Supporting Child Development During and Beyond the Pandemic
Vivvi is here to support your family during the pandemic. We are continuing to provide quality childcare and early learning that encourage your child to reach those all-important developmental milestones. Our Vivvi In-Home service brings our Learning Model and personalized care safely to your home so that your child can continue to benefit from participating in childcare activities.
Our experienced educators are vetted by us, are trained in health and safety by our Head of Compliance in partnership with the New York Presbyterian Hospital Network, and specially chosen for your family. We are also offering virtual tours to prospective parents where you get a chance to see the Vivvi campuses and meet our team.
Have more questions about the Vivvi program? We are here for you. Contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer your questions.