Parents worry about kids’ educational growth in lockdown, study finds

A new study from The Genius of Play and OnePoll found many parents fear their kids will fall behind in school thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Picsea on Unsplash)

Two-thirds of parents are worried their child will be below grade level in the fall — as a result of the classroom time lost due to COVID-19, according to new research.

The survey of 2,000 parents with school-aged children revealed 65% are concerned about their child being behind due to the disrupted 2019–2020 school year.

The average parent surveyed said their child lost about eight weeks of classroom learning at the end of the school year.

And while the majority of parents said their child’s district continued with distance learning for all or part of the rest of the school year — through video calls or educational worksheets — 13% said their child didn’t have any form of continued distance education.

Commissioned by The Genius of Play and conducted by OnePoll, the survey looked at what parents have done to keep their child learning this summer, and what their thoughts are for school starting back up in the fall.

Seventy percent of parents surveyed said they’re actively taking steps to prepare their child for the next school year — this includes educational workbooks (47%), getting them a virtual or in-person tutor (39%) and spending time reading together each day (39%).

But those aren’t the only things parents are doing to help their child this summer — many are prioritizing playtime.

Fifty-eight percent of parents are using this summer as an opportunity to spend more time playing with their child, and 76% said having time for educational play this summer is the best way to prepare their child for the next school year.

While it might seem like an easy solution, 79% said it’s especially important for their child to have time to play this summer, in order to deal with the stress and anxiety resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, 74% said their child has used play as a way to cope with the on-going pandemic — and 38% said one of the benefits of play is learning to deal with emotions like fear and frustration.

Results also showed children have had more time to play, as a result of the pandemic — according to 75% of parents surveyed.

“Sixty-eight percent of parents said their kids are getting tired of screens and gravitating to traditional toys as they seek entertainment and stimulation,” said Anna Yudina, senior director of marketing initiatives at The Toy Association, which spearheads The Genius of Play.

“Parents who are looking for inspiring play ideas and resources can visit our website,, as they help their children stay on track with their development and deal with anxiety during these uncertain times.”

Play has a variety of benefits, beyond coping with current events; 44% said play helped their child’s coordination, balance and motor skills while 43% said play helped release their child’s natural energy.

Not only that, but 40% said play helps children learn to interact with others — a skill that will be beneficial for whenever schools are able to safely reopen.

Thirty-two percent of parents believe schools will reopen in the fall, as usual, while 36% think they’ll physically reopen after the winter holidays, around January.

Either way, it’s likely parents will continue to utilize play: the survey revealed 43% have become more thankful for — and more reliant on — toys and play as educational resources.

“Regardless of whether or not schools physically reopen this fall, one thing most parents can agree on is the importance of play in their children’s lives,” said Yudina.
“On top of helping children learn and adapt, playing together as a family strengthens bonds and builds lifelong memories. In fact, the majority of parents surveyed (51%) said that more time to play together as a family has been one of the positive outcomes of the pandemic.”

Educational workbooks 47%
Signed them up for educational websites 43%
Watch educational TV and movies 40%
They have a tutor for the summer (either virtual or in-person) 39%
Talk about what the next school year might look like 39%
Spend time each day reading together 39%
Turn everyday activities into learning opportunities 37%
Have a time limit for non-educational screentime 36%
Encourage their unique interests 35%
Dedicate a set amount of time each day to playing with educational toys 34%

Helps with coordination, balance and motor skills 44%
Releases my child’s natural energy 43%
Learn to interact with others 40%
Learn to cope with emotions like fear and frustration 38%
Help with thinking and reasoning skills 38%
Encourage my child’s imagination 38%
Reach critical developmental milestones 37%
Learn to negotiate, collaborate and share 37%
Discover interests that may lead to a future career/hobby 34%
Learn curriculum-related skills in a fun way 31%

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