This literature review considers the impact of COVID-19 on families, and the implications for the home learning environment.
Key review findings
- 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 have enjoyed spending time together at home during COVID-19, some have been at home in more difficult circumstances, and for many parents the stress of financial insecurity has meant they have not been able to support their children’s learning as much as they would like.
- While many practitioners have provided virtual support to help families with home learning environment activities, there have been 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 impacted more
- 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.