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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

UNICEF Innocenti's curated library of COVID-19 + Children research

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Teacher experiences of facilitating play in early childhood classrooms during COVID-19

AUTHOR(S)
Christina O’Keeffe; Sinead McNally

Published: April 2022   Journal: Journal of Early Childhood Research
he COVID-19 pandemic posed major challenges for the lives of children in terms of school closures, loss of routine, reduced social contact, bereavement and trauma. The pandemic also gave rise to a focus on play as a fundamental support for children’s wellbeing. This study examined early childhood teachers’ reported practices of using play upon returning to school in Ireland after lockdown restrictions which included a 6-month period of school closures. Building on previous research on play in early childhood education during the early stages of the pandemic, 12 primary school teachers in early childhood classrooms (children aged 3–8 years) participated in focus groups aimed at exploring teachers’ experiences of using play upon returning to in-class teaching. Through reflexive thematic analysis of the focus groups, four themes were identified that encapsulated teachers’ experiences: play in the classroom embodied similar characteristics and qualities during COVID-19 as before the pandemic; play was considered a priority in early childhood education classrooms; teachers planned carefully for facilitating play in the classroom in response to COVID-19 regulations; teachers’ noted the importance of the social and relational components of play for children in the context of COVID-19 regulations.
Parenting a newborn baby during the COVID-19 pandemic: a qualitative survey

AUTHOR(S)
Hailey Sledge; Marguerite Lawler; Jonathan Hourihane (et al.)

Published: March 2022   Journal: BMJ Paediatrics Open

 The COVID-19 pandemic caused long periods of lockdown, social isolation and intense challenges for parents. This study examines parenting in an infant cohort born at the pandemic onset. The CORAL study is a prospective longitudinal observational study looking at allergy, immune function and neurodevelopmental outcome in babies born between March and May 2020. Demographic information was collected, babies were reviewed at 6-monthly intervals, and serology for COVID-19 infection was recorded. When babies were 12 months old, parents were asked for 3–5 words to describe raising a baby during the pandemic. Frequency of word usage was compared between first time parents and parents with other children, and parents of babies with and without a diagnosis of COVID-19 infection.

Learning in a pandemic: primary school children’s emotional engagement with remote schooling during the spring 2020 Covid-19 lockdown in Ireland

AUTHOR(S)
Yekaterina Chzhen; Jennifer Symonds; Dympna Devine (et al.)

Published: February 2022   Journal: Child Indicators Research
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the greatest disruption to children’s schooling in generations. This study analyses primary school children’s emotional engagement with remote schooling during the Spring 2020 lockdown in the Republic of Ireland, which involved one of the longest school closures among rich countries at the time. It investigates whether children’s engagement with their remote schooling varied by personal and family characteristics, using data from the Children’s School Lives (CSL) surveys. CSL is a nationally representative study of primary schools in Ireland, which collected information from children aged 8–9 years in May – August 2019 and in May – July 2020. Linear regression estimates with school fixed effects are based on the analytic sample of nearly 400 children (from across 71 schools) who took part in both waves and have complete data on all the key variables.
Parental mediation in pandemic: predictors and relationship with children's digital skills and time spent online in Ireland

AUTHOR(S)
Beatrice Sciacca; Derek A. Laffan; James O'Higgins Norman (et al.)

Published: November 2021   Journal: Computers in Human Behavior
During the COVID-19 pandemic, an increasing reliance on digital technology to carry out social, entertainment, work and school activities increased, which may have affected the ways in which parents mediated their children's digital technology use. Given the prominent role that digital technology will have in the future, it is important to investigate parent and child characteristics which impacted parental mediation of children's digital technology use. Therefore, the present study aimed at analysing the frequency of parental mediation strategies (i.e. active and restrictive) during lockdown, their determinants, and how the two strategies affected children's digital skills and time spent online. Data were collected from 461 parent and 461 child participants. Results showed that almost half of parents (46%) practiced parental mediation with the same frequency, while the 42.6% applied it more often.
The impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic on parents of children with externalising difficulties in Ireland: a longitudinal cohort study

AUTHOR(S)
Anna Berry; Tom Burke; Alan Carr

Published: October 2021   Journal: International Journal of Clinical Practice

This longitudinal cohort study aimed to examine the impact of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland on parents of children with externalising difficulties, in comparison to parents of children without such difficulties. Parents of 159 children completed online self-report measures at three time points during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic; (a) Delay and Mitigation Phase (March 2020 to May 2020), (b) Reopening of Society Phase (June 2020 to July 2020) and (c) Wave 2 Case Acceleration Phase (September 2020 to October 2020). Participants were allocated to the clinical group if they met the clinical cut off point on the Conduct or Hyperactivity/Inattention subscales of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire at Time 1.

Parental involvement during COVID-19: experiences from the special school

AUTHOR(S)
Una O'Connor; Jessica Bates; Jayne Finlay (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: European Journal of Special Needs Education
The closure of schools worldwide in response to the COVID-19 pandemic required parents to undertake key pedagogical roles to support their children’s education and movement to a remote, often virtual world of online teaching presented many challenges for families. For the parents of children attending special schools, the loss of educational, as well as therapeutic provision, added a further layer of complexity unique to this group. This paper presents findings from a Northern Ireland-wide survey undertaken during the first lockdown period. Using Hornby and Blackwell’s model of parental involvement (PI), the paper describes parents’ experiences relative to their child’s needs, family circumstances and societal expectations, and the intersection of these with teacher relationships and the wider school community. The findings reveal those factors that facilitated and inhibited PI and makes suggestions for improvements at school and policy levels in the short and longer term. The results have relevance and reach beyond the Northern Ireland context and should contribute to international dialogue on the synergy between PI and the special school setting.
“Zooming In” on children’s rights during a pandemic: technology, child justice and Covid-19

AUTHOR(S)
Nessa Lynch; Ursula Kilkelly

Published: June 2021   Journal: The International Journal of Children's Rights
The implementation of public health measures in response to the covid-19 pandemic has impacted heavily on the operation of child justice systems and places of detention, creating new challenges in the safeguarding and implementation of children’s rights. Yet, it has also been a time of innovation, particularly in the use of technology. Using case studies from Ireland and Aotearoa New Zealand, we discuss how technology has been used to maintain the balance between restrictive yet necessary public health measures and the operation of the child justice system. Examples include remote participation in remand hearings and trial and the use of “virtual visits” for children in detention.
Discourses of childism: how covid-19 has unveiled prejudice, discrimination and social injustice against children in the everyday

AUTHOR(S)
Rebecca Adami; Katy Dineen

Published: June 2021   Journal: The International Journal of Children's Rights
Do children suffer from discriminatory structures in society and how can issues of social injustice against children be conceptualised and studied? The conceptual frame of childism is examined through everyday expressions in the aftermath of policies affecting children in Sweden, the UK and Ireland to develop knowledge of age-based and intersectional discrimination against children. While experiences in Sweden seem to indicate that young children rarely suffer severe symptoms from covid-19, or constitute a driving force in spreading the virus, policy decisions in the UK and Ireland to close down schools have had detrimental effects on children in terms of child hunger and violence against children. Policy decisions that have prioritised adults at the cost of children have unveiled a structural injustice against children, which is mirrored by individual examples of everyday societal prejudice.
To school through the screens: the use of screen devices to support young children's education and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Suzanne M. Egan; Chloé Beatty

Published: June 2021   Journal: Irish Educational Studies
The aim of the current study was to investigate how children in Ireland adapted to the change in schooling, and particularly their use of screen devices to support their learning at home, during a period of lockdown due to the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020. This research draws on data from 506 parents of children aged 1–10 years in Ireland who completed an online survey during lockdown in May and June 2020. Parents responded to a series of questions for the Play and Learning in the Early Years (PLEY) Survey about their child's play, learning and development, including questions about their child's education and use of screen devices for educational purposes. The results indicate that screentime increased for most children during lockdown, and they spent significantly more time on schoolwork if they had access to a computer or laptop. They were also more likely to spend time watching educational TV programmes or playing educational screen-based games if their parent believed screen content had educational value. The findings highlight the impact of lockdown on children's lives both for their education, and how they adapted to schooling at home using screen devices. The implications for education and future research are considered.
Experiences of remote education during COVID-19 and its relationship to the mental health of primary school children

AUTHOR(S)
Jennifer McMahon; Elaine A. Gallagher; Eibhlín H. Walsh (et al.)

Published: June 2021   Journal: Irish Educational Studies
The aim of the present study is to describe how parents and primary school children dealt with the rapid and significant changes to their schooling experience during COVID-19 and how this correlated with children's mental health. A cross-sectional study comprising an online survey was completed by 797 parents of children from 4–12 years, (M = 9 years). School variables explored included school expectations for schoolwork, how much time per day spent on schoolwork, how able parents were to support their child with schoolwork, whether a child had support from an adult at school and whether the child had support from a friend. Child mental health was measured by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Regression analysis indicated that parents’ ability to support their child with schoolwork was correlated with child mental health status. Further analysis indicated the association between ability to support their child with schoolwork and child mental health status was mediated by parental psychological distress. These findings reinforce the importance of parents as a link between schools and students during the pandemic. Implications for educational policy are discussed.
Education for children's rights in Ireland before, during and after the pandemic

AUTHOR(S)
Benjamin Mallon; Gabriela Martinez-Sainz

Published: June 2021   Journal: Irish Educational Studies
This paper analyses the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the ‘education rights’ of children in the Irish context, with a particular focus on children's/human rights education (C/HRE). C/HRE can support children and young people to understand and explore the issues which limit people's lives and consider actions to uphold their own rights and the rights of others. The breadth and depth of the provision of HRE can be considered across ‘education about rights’ (including knowledge and understanding of human rights values, norms and frameworks), ‘education through rights’ (rights respecting educational approaches) and ‘education for rights’ (empowerment to realising and upholding rights) (UN 2011). The paper situates this framework against three additional dimensions. Firstly, it considers the children's rights issues within a historical national context. Secondly, it explores the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the education rights of children in Ireland. Finally, with a future orientation, the paper considers how C/HRE can strengthen education, meeting the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, the legacies of longstanding children's rights issues, and future human rights challenges.
‘Schooling at home’ in Ireland during COVID-19’: parents’ and students’ perspectives on overall impact, continuity of interest, and impact on learning

AUTHOR(S)
N. Flynn; E. Keane; E. Davitt (et al.)

Published: May 2021
Educational disruption due to COVID-19 ushered in dramatically different learning realities in Ireland. This research explored the experiences of children, young people and parents during the first period of ‘schooling at home’ (SAH) at the end of that academic year. An anonymous online survey, guided by social constructivist emphases, yielded responses from 2733 parents and 1189 students from primary and second-level schools. Substantial evidence emerged of parent-perceived and student-perceived negative psychosocial impacts of SAH on students.
Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on learning, teaching and facilitation of practical activities in science upon reopening of Irish schools

AUTHOR(S)
Ruth Chadwick; Eilish McLoughlin

Published: May 2021   Journal: Irish Educational Studies
In September 2020, Irish schools reopened following their emergency closure due to the COVID-19 crisis. Measures were put in place to minimise the risk of transmission of the virus within schools and communities. However, these measures were likely to impact on teachers’ capacity to facilitate learning in science, particularly the practical and investigative aspects of the Irish curriculum. This research explores the impact of the measures in place to limit virus transmission on teaching and learning in science, particularly on practical activities. The period of focus is the three months (September to November 2020) following the school closures. The research aims to highlight the implications of the COVID-19 crisis on science teaching and learning in Irish schools. The research will also provide recommendations to lessen the impact on primary and second-level science education to improve student learning and engagement in science.
Missing early education and care during the pandemic: the socio-emotional impact of the COVID-19 crisis on young children

AUTHOR(S)
Suzanne M. Egan; Jennifer Pope; Mary Moloney (et al.)

Published: April 2021   Journal: Early Childhood Education Journal
Worldwide, millions of children have missed out on early childhood education and care (ECEC) due to the closure of their settings during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, little is known about the socio-emotional impact of these closures on young children. This paper draws upon a study of 506 parents of children aged 1–10 years in Ireland who completed the online Play and Learning in the Early Years (PLEY) Survey during lockdown in May and June 2020. Parents responded to a series of questions about their child’s play, learning and development during lockdown, and described the impact of the restrictions on their children’s lives.
Systematic review of effectiveness and satisfaction evaluation in child and adolescent mental health services in Ireland

AUTHOR(S)
D. Leahy; F. McNicholas

Published: March 2021   Journal: Irish Journal of Psychological Medicine

Increasing numbers of youth experience mental illness, and also require and benefit from specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS). Worldwide, such services are underfunded and under-resourced, and services in Ireland are no different. It is vital that existing services are regularly reviewed for both efficacy and acceptability. This study's objective was to review published studies evaluating service user satisfaction with CAMHS in Ireland and CAMHS therapeutic efficacy. MEDLINE, PsycINFO and CINAHL databases were systematically searched. Studies were included if they reported on service user satisfaction or an evaluation of CAMHS in Ireland.

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UNICEF Innocenti's Children and COVID-19 Library is a database collecting research from around the world on COVID-19 and its impacts on children and adolescents.

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COVID-19 & Children: Rapid Research Response

UNICEF Innocenti is mobilizing a rapid research response in line with UNICEF’s global response to the COVID-19 crisis. The initiatives we’ve begun will provide the broad range of evidence needed to inform our work to scale up rapid assessment, develop urgent mitigating strategies in programming and advocacy, and preparation of interventions to respond to the medium and longer-term consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. The research projects cover a rapid review of evidence, education analysis, and social and economic policies.