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Lockdown affecting language skills of preschool children


New findings from an ongoing study by the UK based Education Endowment Foundation, which aims to examine the impact of Covid-19 disruption on primary school starters, suggest that language and communication are particular areas of concern for teachers this year.


More than 50,000 pupils have so far been surveyed across England, and coupled with research at schools, it has been established that there has been an increase in four- and five-year-olds needing help with language.


In response to a survey carried out in Autumn Term 2020, 96 percent of the 57 participating schools reported being ‘very concerned’ or ‘quite concerned’ about their pupils’ language and communication skills due to the Covid-19 pandemic.


Another worrying factor was that 76 percent of schools said pupils starting school in September 2020 needed more support with communication than in previous years.


This is of particular concern, as evidence has repeatedly shown that poor speech development can be connected to long-term effects on a child’s education and their future progress.


The Education Endowment Foundation suggests the measures taken to combat the pandemic have deprived the youngest children of social contact and experiences essential for increasing vocabulary.


Less or no contact with grandparents, social distancing, no play dates, and the wearing of face coverings in public are all areas that have left children less exposed to conversations and everyday experiences.


The research is being undertaken by the University of York, the Education Policy Institute, and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research.

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