We consider the impact of COVID-19 on families and the home learning environment

18 Nov 2020
reading family

Today, we published a comprehensive review of literature looking at the impact of COVID-19 on families’ wellbeing and how this impacts the home learning environment.

COVID-19 has been hugely disruptive to all education settings. We looked at what has been said about literacy for children in their early years and what must be done to mitigate the damage of the pandemic on children’s learning.

The review showed how important it is to develop parents and families with clear, accessible guidelines on how to provide effective support for their children. We know that what takes place at home in a child’s earliest years is not just key to their success in education, but their success in life.

The National Literacy Trust is working with the Department for Education to promote the Hungry Little Minds campaign, which aims to help parents create a good home learning environment. We have also created Words for Life, a website full of suggestions on activities parents can do at home with their children.

Our review contains recommendations for the government as well as early years practitioners. It is available to download ahead of our policy webinar from 10-11am on 19 November. Please see more details here and register interest by RSVPing on this link.

In addition to learning from the research insights and recommendations for government, early years professionals and settings, we will hear from local organisations working to support some of the most vulnerable families and from parents as they share their experience of lockdown.

Key findings from our literature review were:

  • The home learning environment is vital in supporting early literacy, but children from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to be read to at home, meaning they can fall behind.
  • Although many families enjoyed spending time together at home during COVID-19, there are disparities in access to support. Higher-income parents were more likely to receive online support from practitioners, and low-income families are less likely to have the resources they need, including the right digital devices and reliable internet connections.
  • COVID-19 has exacerbated factors that can lead to parental depression, including economic hardship and job insecurity, and those who had fewer resources to begin with have been disproportionately affected. There has been a big difference between children who have spent enhanced quality time at home with their parents, and those who have been at home in more difficult circumstances.
  • Poor parental mental health has an impact on the home learning environment as children learn to think and understand through social interactions with others. If the parent is disengaged or distracted, then they may not respond positively to the child’s attempts to communicate and the connections in the child’s brain that support the development of communication and social skills don’t form as they should.
  • Supporting parents to engage with their child’s early learning is key to boosting children’s language skills. Successful initiatives are those that focus on developing a warm and positive relationship with the family. Parents like to be listened to, have their views taken seriously, and treated as active participants in supporting their children.

We hope you’re able to join our Webinar.