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 the ever-changing restrictions has been a stressful adjustment for everyone, especially parents, who on top of having to adjust their various working schedules to accommodate for working from home, also need to ensure that their children learning are equipped to study from home.
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. The good news is that, while your child may have less access to the outside world than they would have under normal circumstances, there are many simple ways for parents to provide them with the stimulus their young minds need to learn about the world, all from the comfort of your home.
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.
With that said, 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. Employ a mix of tactile games that allow them to interact with real-world objects, such as puzzles or stacking blocks, as well as picture books, songs, and videos that allow them to absorb information visually and auditorily.
Of course, it is best to play with these toys and games together with your child, so that you can help with the input and 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. They will more likely be looking to their parents to know how they should feel about the new experience of online learning. If they see that their parents are fully on board with online learning, they themselves will feel like it is something that they want to continue with.
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.