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It has been roughly nine months since quarantine began for many Americans, meaning children conceived then are now being born into an ongoing pandemic. We believe that now is a good time to focus on the impact of COVID-19 on younger children. If we do not provide support for young children at this crucial point in their lives it could negatively impact their futures. Virtual learning has been criticized for its inadequacy in teaching students, many who do not have proper access to the Internet. This impacts all students, including those between five and seven years old, which are critical years of a child’s development. Many kindergarteners learn how to read, write, and do math for the first time while in school. It is certainly troubling that they may end up learning less of these critical skills due to technical issues or other pandemic related problems. The best one can do right now is ensuring our students get the best education they can. If necessary, they must be taught anything they may have missed after the pandemic ends.
Another issue that young children face during this pandemic is not being able to meet relatives. Right now, it simply isn’t safe for some children to meet their relatives in person. While it will be more difficult for young children to bond with their relatives, it is ultimately for their safety. Some kids are at an age right now where they should be experiencing large amounts of social interaction as part of their development. Instead, they are quarantined due to something they have no control over. Unfortunately, young children missing this much social interaction has the potential to make them lead much lonelier lives. This is why extra effort should be made by the immediate families of children to interact with them frequently.
There is another opportunity that children may miss during quarantine related to social interaction: making friends. The classroom, normally an excellent environment for kids to make friends, is now completely virtual, with chances for interaction being reduced. Right now, it is more important than ever that parents be there for their children, talking to them often to offset the potential for loneliness that distance learning presents. Multiple students said that they and their younger siblings had stayed connected with friends via FaceTime and other videoconferencing apps. While this may not help with making friends, it does mean existing friends can still talk to one another.
A pandemic simply isn’t an ideal time to raise a child. The circumstances brought on by COVID-19 have the potential to disrupt critically important learning, delay bonds with family members, and make forming friendships an exceedingly difficult task. It is important to support young children right now, as they face a world that is dangerous and always changing. Making sure that children get meaningful social interaction right now is important. If they do not, we may see an entire generation of much lonelier, more isolated humans.