Affects of pandemic on children’s language development

I’m sure we all thought or hoped that Covid-19 would have disappeared by now, but unfortunately it looks like it’s here to stay for a little while longer.

It’s affected people in many ways, ways in which maybe we’ll never fully understand. Mental health services were stretched before the Covid-19 outbreak, and now they are way beyond capacity with people struggling to cope due to the pandemic. Life has drastically changed for so many of us, but together we can and will get through it. Together stronger.

Even as adults we struggle to put into words the effect the pandemic has had on us. So just how has it affected our children, particularly those who are having difficulty with their communication, understanding and expressive language, and social skills.


Children need to be with their peers

Children need to be able to play, to learn from their peers to develop critical speech and language skills. Only time will tell if the pandemic has influenced our children’s development and at this time, to what extent is unknown.

Pearson Education Ltd (2021) confirm that it is unknown whether the pandemic will have affected children’s development. They suggest that development could be impacted by a lack of social interaction, missed healthcare appointments, a lack of group sessions and less physical activity (including less cognitive demands). It is known that these skills are closely linked with social and emotional development, so if language is impacted, social and emotional behaviour may be as well.


It will unfold over time

The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) (2020) agree with Pearson in that the pandemic’s effects will “unfold over time”, and it is only then we will know the true extent that this has had on the development of our children. This research suggests that although our children and young people are less physically affected by the pandemic, they are at risk of disruptions to their daily lives such as family illness, school closures, transitioning to online learning, along with many other changes, which may ultimately affect their mental health (United Nations, 2020).


Learn three top tips

Find our three top tips to support our children and young people through this pandemic. Remember everyone’s situation is different, so adapt these to suit your family and current lifestyle.

  • Tune into children’s needs. Sitting with children and playing games can develop vital speech, language and communication skills
  • Children will still learn from their caregiver, just because they may not be seeing as many people as they once would, doesn’t mean they can’t develop their language and social skills
  • Allowing children to exercise will develop both their fine and gross motor skills. For example, you may have a park nearby that you could visit, or you could set up an obstacle course in your home!

By providing these opportunities we can give our young people the confidence they need to succeed in all aspects of life, including going back into the education setting.


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