Can a pandemic really affect the cognitive development of young children?
A recent study out of Brown University has attempted to answer this question about the pandemic’s effect on the childs cognitive development and their preoperational early learning stage to learn about the world.
It’s important to remember that being on lockdown has an impact on children learning, of all ages. The early years of age in a child’s life are critical to their cognitive development.
With the COVID pandemic continuing to be an ongoing issue around the world, it seems as though we are constantly in and out of various forms of lockdowns. Living with ever-changing restrictions is stressful for everyone. Parents face the additional challenge of adjusting their working schedules to accommodate remote work. They also need to ensure their children have the necessary tools for studying from home. It’s a demanding adjustment for both parents and children alike.
According to a recent study performed in the US, babies born during the pandemic era:
They appear to have scored much lower on tests designed to assess cognitive development, compared to those born in the decade preceding the pandemic (Grover, 2021).
The lead study author Sean Deoni, associate professor of pediatrics (research) at Brown University, explained that the falling scores are likely due to a lack of stimulation and interaction at home.
The fact is that, while it is unclear when the world will be able to return to a state of normalcy, it is still crucial for the children’s brain development and their minds to be stimulated. Your child may have limited access to the outside world, but there are ways to provide stimulus at home. Parents can engage their children in learning activities and teach them about the world. These simple activities can keep young minds stimulated and engaged.
Be their first and best teacher
Remember that as parents, you are your child’s first and best teacher. As such, being at home with you need not mean that they are missing out on valuable life teachings. You are a big part of your child’s early learning during its preoperational stage. This stage is the second stage in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development by Jean Piaget. This stage begins around age 2, as children start to talk and begin to engage in symbolic play, and learn to manipulate symbols.
Engaging small children does not come naturally to everyone
Our very own Shichida Program Lead, Madeleine Lourdes, has written a great article about how to keep your children stimulated and entertained during the lockdown. Please check out her blogpost Suddenly alone in your house with your child under 5?
Provide them with the tools to teach themselves
Children are naturally inquisitive. Between the ages of 0-3 years old, they learn by input, meaning that their brains are absorbing all the information they are exposed to as a sponge. Gathering information during this phase of cognitive development will prepare them for the output phase. The more information they input, the more they will be able to output later since children have object permanence.
Provide your child with educational games and toys that they can use to train their brain. Although access to the outside world may be limited, parents can still provide stimulating activities at home. They can engage children in tactile games, such as puzzles or stacking blocks, to encourage interaction with real-world objects. Additionally, incorporating picture books, songs, and videos can enhance their visual and auditory learning experience.
Praise and Encourage
It is best to play with these toys and games together with your child. Co-play offers opportunities to offer praise and encouragement. However, once you have fostered a love of learning in your child, they will be able to use these tools more and more independently to teach themselves.
Shichida early learning centres offer a host of educational tools and games that focus on all areas of cognitive development. Please check out our Online Store for ideas and options.
Embrace online learning
Online learning is an adjustment. For most young children (and some parents), it is an entirely foreign concept. Just like with anything new, it can be daunting, scary, and seemingly impossible. However, just like any new experience, the more we do it, the better we get at it.
It’s important to remember that children are resilient
They are less likely to make comparisons between face-to-face learning and online learning than parents are. Children often seek emotional cues from their parents when adapting to online learning. If parents embrace and support online learning, it encourages children to feel positively about it and continue their engagement.
Trust in your children and support them through this adjustment as they need. They may act differently from how they would in a face-to-face lesson as it is a different experience. However, if they are supported and praised throughout the process, they will quickly adapt.
Don’t be afraid to seek help
The last 18 months have been rough for everyone, parents especially, but know that you don’t need to battle through it alone. The Shichida program can help provide structure to the quality time you spend with your child.
Not only do our 50-minute lessons offer a unique whole-brain training experience for your child, but our centres also offer a network of passionate teachers that can offer support to parents and help provide advice on age-appropriate concepts and activities you can utilize at home to continue to be your child’s best teacher.
Lockdowns and pandemics may be out of our control, but if we work together, we can make the most out of a rough situation and support the cognitive development of all children to ensure that they can reach their fullest potential.