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Children and COVID-19 Research Library

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

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1 - 15 of 40
Using robotic toys in early childhood education to support children’s social and emotional competencies

Sarika Kewalramani; Ioanna Palaiologou; Maria Dardanou (et al.)

Published: November 2021   Journal: Australasian Journal of Early Childhood
This Australian study examines whether and how technologies such as Artificially Intelligent (AI) toys in a home-based setting might socially and emotionally support children with diverse needs through play. Building on the concept of ‘emotional capital', and employing a design-based research approach, parents during the COVID-19 lockdown periods in 2020 intentionally used robotic toys to engage their children with additional diverse needs in home-based play experiences. The data from both parents’ and children’s (n = 5) Zoom interviews, digital observations and children’s drawings demonstrated how children creatively conversed with their AI robots in innovative and empathy-based dialogues that generated happy feelings and a sense of ‘imaginary’ togetherness with their robot during the coding experiences. This study contributes to research by exploring the use of AI robotic toys together with physical and artificial environments and offers a case to build children’s emotional capital in enabling children’s social-emotional literacies.
The impact of COVID-19 on families’ home literacy practices with young children

Kirsten Read; Grace Gaffney; Ashley Chen (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: Early Childhood Education Journal
The practice of shared book reading is a nurturing support for early language, literacy, and socio-emotional development within young children’s typical care. However, the closures of childcare, early education programs, and centers for family activities in the Spring of 2020 due to COVID-19 brought many sudden changes to the everyday lives of families with young children. In order to explore the impact of COVID-19 on shared reading, this study surveyed parents of children between the ages of 2 and 5 (n = 85) about their children’s frequency of shared reading engagement in February and October, 2020 as well as the frequency of screen-mediated reading, the number of readers their children read with, and book preferences at both time points. Parents were also asked about changes in their children’s regular care and whether and how they had tried new kinds of (virtual) literacy activities during their increased time at home.
Constructions of quality: Australian Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) services during COVID-19

Melissa Barnes; Gloria Quiñones; Emily Berger

Published: September 2021   Journal: Teachers and Teaching
There is increasing pressure on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings to align their practices and values to that of schools, with the notion that a quality education in ECEC consists of providing care whilst also ensuring strong learning outcomes. This paper employs the constructs of structural and process quality to theorise the perceived disparities between ECEC institutions and schools and between ECEC services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The experiences of 29 Australian ECEC educators provide insight into the differing constructions of quality across ECEC services during the COVID-19 lockdown periods that occurred from May to August 2020 in the state of Victoria.
The impact of COVID-19 on early childhood reading practices

Deborah L. Wheeler; Jennifer C. Hill

Published: September 2021   Journal: Journal of Early Childhood Literacy
COVID-19 has changed the daily lives of families, impacted on work, social interactions, and mental health. Since spring 2020, parents have been working from home and children have been home from daycare and school. Parents are experiencing stress in an attempt to satisfy the demands of work, family, and COVID-19 concerns. Due to the fact that children have been home from daycare and school, parents have the sole responsibility of caring for and teaching their children until schools are able to fully and effectively meet the needs of educating students in an adapted format. Research provides a wealth of information documenting the advantages of parents reading to their children. Children benefit from read-alouds with parental interaction, and these benefits include an increase in oral language skills, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and an increase in motivation to read. The purpose of this study is to answer two questions: (1) Since parents were home more often with their children, were parents spending more quality time reading to their two-to four-year-old children? This can be defined as reading developmentally appropriate books to their children with their undivided attention; and (2) Since parents were home more often with their two-to four-year-old children, were parents reading more to their young children? Parents of pre-kindergarten students were surveyed to determine the answers to these questions.
Providing contact with nature for young generation - a case study of preschools in the City of Poznań, Poland

Iwona Zwierzchowska; Piotr Lupa

Published: September 2021   Journal: Urban Forestry & Urban Greening
Contact with nature is valuable for the health, wellbeing and development of children. Meanwhile, the urban environment and the contemporary urban lifestyle limit the opportunity for contact with nature. Given that children aged three to six years spend a significant amount of time in preschool, this study aimed to: 1) investigate children’s opportunities to contact with nature during their time in preschool, including the availability of these schools’ own outdoor spaces and neighbouring green spaces for visiting; 2) recognise preschools’ practices in using available green spaces to enable children to have contact with nature; 3) identify the impact on the outdoor activities provided by preschools of factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic and preschool managers’ awareness of the importance of children’s contact with nature.
Measuring and forecasting progress in education: what about early childhood?

Linda M. Richter; Jere R. Behrman; Pia Britto (et al.)

Published: September 2021   Journal: npj Science of Learning
A recent Nature article modelled within-country inequalities in primary, secondary, and tertiary education and forecast progress towards Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets related to education (SDG 4). However, their paper entirely overlooks inequalities in achieving Target 4.2, which aims to achieve universal access to quality early childhood development, care and preschool education by 2030. This is an important omission because of the substantial brain, cognitive and socioemotional developments that occur in early life and because of increasing evidence of early-life learning’s large impacts on subsequent education and lifetime wellbeing. This study provides an overview of this evidence and uses new analyses to illustrate medium- and long-term implications of early learning, first by presenting associations between pre-primary programme participation and adolescent mathematics and science test scores in 73 countries and secondly, by estimating the costs of inaction (not making pre-primary programmes universal) in terms of forgone lifetime earnings in 134 countries. This study finds considerable losses, comparable to or greater than current governmental expenditures on all education (as percentages of GDP), particularly in low- and lower-middle-income countries. In addition to improving primary, secondary and tertiary schooling, it concludes that to attain SDG 4 and reduce inequalities in a post-COVID era, it is essential to prioritize quality early childhood care and education, including adopting policies that support families to promote early learning and their children’s education.
A mixed-methods study of early childhood education and care in South Korea: policies and practices during COVID-19

Hae Min Yu; Yu Jin Cho; Hyun Jeong Kim (et al.)

Published: August 2021   Journal: Early Childhood Education Journal
This study of South Korea's response to COVID-19 has three purposes. First, it uses document analysis to examine policies, strategies, and resources offered by the South Korean government and public organizations to support young children and families during the first 6 months of the pandemic. Next, it uses open-ended surveys with 30 directors of early childhood institutions to explore institutional-level supports and needs during the pandemic. Finally, it looks at the discrepancies between stated policies outlining the South Korea’s response to COVID-19 and the lived experiences of early childhood educators as a route to arriving at recommendations for education policymakers and other stakeholders.
Trainee Teachers’ Perceptions of Online Teaching During Field Experience with Young Children

Laila Mohebi; Lawrence Meda

Published: July 2021   Journal: Early Childhood Education Journal
The global pandemic of COVID-19 forced trainee teachers from the United Arab Emirates to have virtual field experiences in the field of early childhood education. The various stakeholders, young children, families, preservice teachers, and university faculty hold different perceptions of online teaching formats. The purpose of this study was to examine the perceptions of trainee teachers and faculty supervisors about online field experiences with young children. The study was done using a qualitative case study within an interpretivist paradigm. Twelve internship students and five supervisors were purposively selected to complete open-ended questionnaires about virtual field experiences.
The impact of COVID-19 on early childhood education in the Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa: insights from the results of rapid regional personnel survey

Yoshie Kaga; Kyungah Bang

Institution: UNESCO
Published: July 2021

Declared a global pandemic on 11 March 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO), COVID-19 has had far-reaching impacts on every facet of life around the world, exacerbating pre-existing  inequalities  and  negatively  impacting  on  vulnerable  and  disadvantaged  populations  the  most.  Learning  continuity  has  been  disrupted  by  school  closures,  generating an unprecedented situation worldwide. According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) data collated in July 2020, over 18.6 million children in pre-primary education in forty-eight Sub-Saharan African countries and 4.4 million pre-primary teachers – eighty-five per cent of whom were women – in twenty-four countries in the Asia-Pacific region were affected by school or centre closures. Recognizing the possible severe and detrimental impact that COVID-19 might have on ECE personnel and their practices, UNESCO Bangkok and Dakar teamed up with several partners to undertake regional surveys in the Asia-Pacific and Sub-Saharan Africa from April to July 2020. Based on the regional surveys, this report features eight key findings and three key messages to better understand ECE personnel’s needs and to identify possible responses to support them.

Connections and disconnections between home and kindergarten: A case study of a 4-year old child's digital practices and experiences in early childhood

Rosienne C. Farrugia; Leonard Busuttil

Published: June 2021   Journal: BJET British Journal of Educational Technology
Various studies outline the ‘digital disconnect’ that exists between the digital experiences that children have with technologies at home and at school. It is however important to document the increasingly multimodal technological world that young children are inhabiting. Framed by socio-cultural and ecological theoretical perspectives, this case study of a 4-year old girl investigates how the contexts surrounding the child impact the use of digital technologies and the differences, if any, between the two contexts. Participatory methods are used to gather data from the child participant in relation to her experiences, preferences and interactions with technology, which was triangulated with the views of one parent and her current educator. Qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis
Maintaining professional standards in early childhood teacher preparation: evaluating adaptations to fieldwork-based experiences during COVID-19

Larisa Callaway-Cole; Ashley Kimble

Published: June 2021   Journal: Early Childhood Education Journal
At institutions striving to maintain face-to-face field placements and instruction amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, circumstances changed daily in response to new developments at the university, local school districts, and personal circumstances. This mixed-methods study explored and evaluated the adaptations made to early childhood teacher preparation courses in an undergraduate program in order to provide relevant training through a variety of instructional modalities including face-to-face, virtual, hypothetical, and mixed reality. Focused on maintaining professional standards through adapted coursework designed to meet student learning outcomes, instructors reflected on multiple instructional modalities and analysis of demonstrable learning outcomes for students in a four-year bachelor’s degree program resulting in state teacher certification.
Shifting to remote learning during COVID-19: differences for early childhood and early childhood special education teachers

Elizabeth A. Steed; Nancy Leech

Published: June 2021   Journal: Early Childhood Education Journal
This study explored similarities and differences in how early childhood education (ECE) teachers (n = 947) and early childhood special education (ECSE) teachers (n = 160) provided remote learning to young children and their families following COVID-19 shelter in place orders in the spring of 2020. The most utilized remote learning activities for both ECE and ECSE teachers were the provision of activities for families to use at home, communication with families, online lessons, and singing songs and reading books. Both types of professionals spent more time planning and communicating with families than providing instruction to children.
Initial development of a national survey on remote learning in early childhood during COVID-19: establishing content validity and reporting successes and barriers

Meaghan McKenna; Xigrid Soto‑Boykin; Ke Cheng (et al.)

Published: June 2021   Journal: Early Childhood Education Journal
This article describes the development and administration of a survey to identify early childhood educators’ successes and barriers when delivering remote instruction (e.g., online whole or small group instruction) during the COVID-19 pandemic to children 2–5 years old. The survey was developed using procedures outlined by the commonly accepted stages of an instrument development process. Content validity was established using four approaches: (a) identifcation of the purpose of the survey, (b) creation of a blueprint of items, (c) cognitive interviews, and (d) expert panel review. A total of 1,053 early childhood educators began the survey, with 808 (77%) of the responses included because educators met the inclusion criteria of working in the United States and responding to at least one question related to remote instruction.
Cyber-safety and COVID-19 in the early years: a research agenda

Susan Edwards

Published: June 2021   Journal: Journal of Early Childhood Research
Young children aged birth to 5 years are known users of the internet, both unsupervised and in collaboration with adults. Adults also use the internet to share details of children’s lives with others, via sharenting and educational apps. During COVID-19 internet use by children and families rose significantly during periods of enforced stay-home. Internet use by children, and by adults on behalf exposes children to conduct, contact and content risks online. These risks mean that cyber-safety in the early years is increasingly necessary, especially concerning increased internet usage during COVID-19. While cyber-safety is well developed for primary and secondary-school aged children this is not the case for young children, their families and educators. This paper proposes a research agenda for cyber-safety in the early years, using critical constructivism and internet studies to define the internet as a non-unitary technology. Three main objects of study concerning cyber-safety in the early years, including the reference to COVID-19 are identified for targeted research, including: technologies, context and policy.
The implications of COVID-19 for early childhood education in Ethiopia: perspectives from parents and caregivers

Janice H. Kim; Mesele Araya; Belay Hagos Hailu (et al.)

Published: May 2021   Journal: Early Childhood Education Journal
Recent research on the effects of COVID-19 on school closures has mainly focused on primary and secondary education, with extremely limited attention to early childhood education (ECE). To address this gap, this study identifies the extent to which parents and caregivers with pre-primary school-aged children were engaged in their children’s learning during school closures in Ethiopia.
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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.