Bound to the new confines of home: Social distancing and children

The extended global lockdown has profound, severe impacts on varied spheres in our society. Here is a look at how the lockdown affects children, especially in relation to pre-primary education, early socio-emotional development and school readiness.


The burden placed on kids with the deprivation of their expanding social environment and play due to lockdown can potentially alter their pace of socioemotional development. Image credits: royalty free (piklist.com)

Jaya Gomathi Mirra R

The Report of the WHO-China Joint Mission records relatively lower rates of COVID 19 infection in children with no fatality rates among kids under nine years of age while the same ranges to 0.2 percent among 10- 19-year-olds. The scenario of rapid infection and continued state of public panic has nevertheless resulted in adoption of extreme means of child protection through self-isolation in homes with families. The burden placed on kids with this deprivation of their expanding social environment and play can potentially alter their pace of socioemotional development for which social interactions with peers, specialised tutors and others count essential.

Various global studies have pointed out the magnificent benefits of preschool education during early childhood which plays an important role in instilling school readiness in children, allowing them to experience more positivity, exploration and inclusion during their formal schooling years. The prolonged lockdown indicates the lack of access to this highly recommended model and poses concern over transition required of children prior school. Anganwadi Centres in India besides providing a flourishing learning environment for children in this age group also offer them nutrition-rich midday meals ensuring wholesome development of the lesser privileged kids. While the scheme is morphing into beneficial forms during these trying times, it remains uncertain if it could cover the magnitude of young children dependent on it, especially in rural areas.

UNICEF, along with the Centre for Early Childhood Education and Development ( CECED), Ambedkar University in Delhi and ASER centre conducted a five year longitudinal research study termed the Indian Early Childhood Education Impact study which involved 14,000 four year old children from 4-8 years of age in the rural areas of the states Telangana, Rajasthan and Assam in India. The findings of the study emphasize that higher levels of school readiness and improved learning outcomes in primary grades were identified even in students who participated in at least a year of quality early childhood development programme. According to the study, the school readiness levels of children under five years of age were far below the range of expectations. This study besides recommending major changes in the policies of curriculum followed by primary education centres in India clearly highlights the developmental outcomes following pre primary education and interactions vaguely outlining this model.

These care centres and pre-primary educational outlets also help alleviate the effects chaotic conditions in home bear on young children. The current conditions of work from home and added economic stress can possibly elevate the chaos in households, thereby negatively affecting children bound to the confines of it. The conditions vary with respect to differing economic and social conditions of parents. Mrs. KrihsnaKumari, a microbiologist and mother to a three-year-old admits concern over stress experienced by her daughter who is used to visit the neighbourhood park every evening besides regular weekend picnics. While it was initially difficult for the kid in adapting to the new confined routine, efforts from parents to engage her in active play and learning has helped in accordance to the mother. The kid is to join school in the coming June and Mrs.KrishnaKumari confesses that there could be chances of stranger anxiety due to this extended lockdown and adds that parents ought to be prepared to help children deal with it better.

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