In amongst the headlines on how children’s lives have been blighted by coronavirus and lockdown there has been a notable lack of children’s voices. Children Heard, an organisation set up by Dr May Lene Karlsen and Dr Gail Sinitsky, to address the strikingly limited space for children to share their views
and lived experiences of the Coronavirus pandemic.
As expected there were a whole range of very negative emotions, such as fear and worry. Children really missed their friends and expressed their frustration and sadness at having their activities so severely restricted. Yet at the same time the picture their responses painted was more nuanced than that suggested by media, by politicians and organisations. Two passages from the report that speak to this are included below.
“In addition to expressing their dislikes of the virus being around, the children shared what they felt were positive aspects of the pandemic. This begins to highlight the nuanced and complex experiences of the children. Many of the children communicated their appreciation for ‘being together with family at home’ (37%). Some of the children liked ‘home-schooling’ (17.8%) and could identify benefits of this: ‘It was good to be home schooled’, ‘It is comfortable to be able to study at home’, and ‘met new friends when I was doing online practice’. Being relieved of specific aspects of their school routine, such as the early start to the school day, was also mentioned as a positive. The new flexibility to learn at home resulted not only in opportunities to spend more time with family but also more time outdoors. Some children talked about improvements this brought to their physical and mental wellbeing. For example, some talked around the fact that they were enjoying the peace and quiet (‘peaceful solitude’).”
“It was striking that, alongside this restrictive experience, many of the children also expressed the ways in which the pandemic had given them new opportunities which they valued. One such opportunity was spending more time with family. Children frequently mentioned the benefits of being at home with their family, ‘I like being with my family a lot and I’m having a lovely time at home’. Some children valued being able to spend more time at home and with family, as well as the relief of not worrying about school, ‘I’m spending more time with my close family and I do not have to worry about school’ and ‘It is fun to get to stay at home (super fun)’. Some valued ‘being able to be with my parents more and my dad works from home’. As one child expressed, it was ‘good to be at home in quarantine with mom’. As well as more time with family, some children commented that the restrictions meant that they were able to engage with their neighbours and other people in their local area. Children spoke positively about maintaining other social connections with friends and wider family.”
Read in full
Coronavirus and my life: What children say, A collaboration between Children Heard and
The Open University’s Children’s Research Centre