Worryingly an increasing number of young children have been left unable to understand facial expressions after having fewer opportunities to develop their social and emotional skills during the pandemic, the education watchdog for England has said.
Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said the worst affected were the most vulnerable children, with those living in smaller homes without gardens typically spending more time on screens during successive lockdowns, which also resulted in delays in learning to walk and crawl.
She said it was clear from four briefings on education recovery published by Ofsted that the pandemic had created “lingering challenges”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Spielman said the pandemic and lockdowns had resulted in delays in learning speech and language; problems with social interaction and confidence, such as not knowing how to take turns and struggling to make friends; and delays in walking and crawling, with more obesity as a result.
Children were also not at the expected level in developing vital self-care skills, such as being potty trained, tying their shoelaces and taking their coats off, she added.
She said: “Children have had less time in early education, less time interacting with others outside the family. For some children they’ve not much interaction at all if they’ve spent all their time looking at screens. Children have been talking in the funny voices of cartoons they’ve been spending enormous amounts of time watching.”
So – what can you do?
To assist your child’s development, speak to your children as much as possible and take them out for walks to the shops and to the park so they could see the world and take exercise.