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The impacts of COVID-19 on early childhood education: Capturing the unique challenges associated with remote teaching and learning in K-2

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Timmons, K.; Cooper, A.; Bozek, E. & Braund , H.
Publication Date: 
14 May 2021

Excerpted from abstract

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across North America closed to in person learning in March 2020. Since then, it has becoming increasingly clear that physical distancing will need to be prolonged in the 2020/2021 school year and possibly resumed in the future. In response, education ministries shifted teaching and learning online. Research is urgently needed to mitigate the effects of COVID-19 on teaching and learning, particularly in the foundational early primary years. This research directly responds to this concern by examining the unique challenges associated with remote teaching and learning in early primary contexts. Given that learning in kindergarten and early primary grades is largely play- and inquiry- based, there is a particular need to investigate the impacts of this move for teachers, parents, and children in K-2. As such, the purpose of this research is twofold: (1) to capture the unique challenges and unanticipated successes associated with remote teaching and learning, and (2) to utilize findings to provide recommendations for remote learning as well as strategies for supporting in-person learning in the COVID-19 era (and post COVID-19 era). Data collection included 45-min semi-structured interviews with K-2 teachers (n=25) and parents (n=11). All participants were from Ontario Canada. Data were collected from April-June 2020. The sample size was chosen to ensure saturation while uncovering a variety of perspectives. Data were analyzed in NVivo using an emergent thematic approach (Patton, 2016). The emergent thematic approach to analysis revealed five themes: equity considerations, synchronous versus asynchronous teaching and learning, social and emotional effects on students, academic impacts, and effects on parents/families.