It is no surprise that news of the global Covid-19 pandemic has monopolised the news agenda for nearly two years. Various organisations from news outlets to charities have explored the impacts of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Many studies and surveys have given clarity to emergent issues and even helped to define remedial plans of action.
This is the aim of Child Wellbeing 2021: Covid-19, Mental Health and Communication. Premier Education wanted to explore – and even quantify – the impact of pandemic measures and lockdowns on children’s wellbeing. By engaging with parents (surveying 928 in total), we can build a detailed picture of the impact on children. This in turn can help teachers, schools and legislators implement measures to help rebuild children’s wellbeing after this time of disruption. And, as our research reveals, there is a powerful opportunity for schools to engage parents to help support the developmental needs of children.
● During lockdowns, 82% of children fell short of the daily physical activity recommendation of one hour per day, every day
● Out of the options given, children missed their teachers and learning the least, missing their friends the most – followed by fun then routine
● 65% of children felt lonely during lockdowns to some degree, according to their parents. 22% were lonely ‘a lot’.
● 41% of children are worried about their future to some degree due to the pandemic
● 68% of parents are worried about the impact of the pandemic on their child’s future to some degree – 25% are worried ‘a lot’
● 70% of the parents feel that staying at home put a strain on family life to some degree – 30% said it was ‘a lot’
○ Increased “family time” was the most common response when asked about the benefits of lockdowns
● 6.7% of children don’t have access to a garden or outside play space
● 63% of children did less physical activity during lockdowns
○ Of those who did less physical activity parents said it affected mood and behaviour – but not weight
● Parents say the most important thing for their children’s development as they return to normal is mental health, followed by happiness. Education and interpersonal skills are the lowest priority
● 37% of parents said the support and guidance on how to manage child mental health during lockdowns was poor or very poor
● Parents rate their schools response to the pandemic as 7.4 out of 10.
This white paper is part of our ongoing research into child wellbeing. In March of 2020 we asked parents about their concerns as the UK went into its first lockdown. As such we can see how feelings have changed and evolved as the pandemic stretched beyond a month to become a year, and then on into its second.
We know the broad brushstrokes: children and parents have had a tough time during lockdown – as did teachers. Working from home and homeschooling has been a challenge for both groups. But our survey quantifies these pain points and as well as the impact on children. Getting the recommended amount of physical exercise was already a challenge for Britain’s children, and our survey shows that the pandemic made this much worse. We can see that mood and behaviour were hit hard and parents are prioritising mental wellbeing as we go forwards. Parents thought schools dealt with the pandemic pretty well but we can also see that there is a demand for more communication with teachers.
But even these facts alone shine a light on the path forwards: schools can leverage the power of physical activity to help rebuild children’s wellbeing, and involve parents who are eager to see it prioritised.
This survey was conducted in August and September of 2021. It included 928 respondents, all of whom are from the Premier Education database of parents who have booked one or more of our services.