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Little Lockdowners Webinar: Panellist FAQs

Following the TTS Little Lockdowners webinar on 5th May, our panel of experts received lots of great questions relating to the topics and themes discussed. In this article, we share some of the questions asked to our panellists and their responses. 

Q – We are seeing more children who can’t play, they just don’t know what to do unless an adult leads something. We are supporting with lots of role modelling of things like a tea party in the house corner or being ‘silly’, interested to hear other ideas we can implement in settings?  
Michael Ungar: Good observation. I’d tend to step back, even more, remove the screens, have a ‘play date’ with other children and seed the room with plenty of things like empty boxes, art supplies, or outdoor play equipment. My guess is that the kids will, once undistracted, figure it all out. 

David Daley: I think the key issue here is modelling, but there is only so much modelling that staff have time for. I would recommend in addition to staff modelling for children who struggle with play are paired up with children who don’t so that additional peer to peer modelling can supplement adult modelling. 

Q- How does a parent help a child who doesn’t like to fail at learning? 
David Daley: There are lots of reasons why children may fail or perceive failure, including temperament, personality, neurodiversity, and resilience. Having broad but clear outcomes for learning such as exploring, understanding, or investigating helps to avoid the perception of failure for both the child and the adult. When children do struggle it is also helpful for adults to model appropriate coping to promote reliance and foster motivation to try again. 

Q – Are there any parent resources you can share after this webinar to support your evidence and help adapt their daily attitudes such as the iPad’s in the car?  
Michael Ungar: Sure, I would recommend looking at the following: Madigan, S., Browne, D., Racine, N., Mori, C., & Tough, S. (2018). Association between screen time and children’s performance on a developmental screening test. JAMA Pediatrics, 173(3), 244-250. 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.5056.

My blog on Psychology Today also has more details. You can visit here: 
https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/nurturing-resilience/201902/does-screen-time-harm-children-how-much-is-too-much [psychologytoday.com]. 

Q – Many children are seriously ill with Long COVID (often not yet spotted) and being in schools is making them worse. I know because my daughter had COVID in March 2021 and then got a diagnosis of chronic migraine and long COVID wasn’t even mentioned until the December. Are any of you thinking about the physical realities of this for children? 
David Daley: This is a difficult one to answer as we know so little yet about long COVID, and future research on long COVID is going to predominantly focus on adults. I would recommend that professionals remain curious about changes in behaviour and learning in children who have experienced COVID and maybe present long COVID. 

Q – We have found that parents dropping at the gate has a benefit in allowing the children to settle in. Are there any other suggestions for helping children with curious attachment issues?  
David Daley: Children who struggle with attachment are always going to be reluctant to separate from caregivers, so earlier separation at the school gate rather than at the classroom door may in fact provide them with more time to adjust before the start of the school day. Higher levels of reassurance and distraction and access to a trusted keyworker, with whom they have established a trusted relationship will help to mitigate the distress of separation. 

Q – Do you think that some of the ‘school ready’ expectations are developmentally appropriate?  
David Daley: I agree that play is often overlooked in favour of more traditional learning methods such as instruction. However, play is fundamentally important as a method of fostering inquiry-based learning and developing independent levels of intuition.

Q Post-COVID, do you think that more SEND has been identified or do you think this is failed executive function development?  
David Daley: It is difficult to answer this question conclusively. I do think that the results of lockdown will exacerbate some of the symptoms of disorders such as ADHD, which might make it look like an increase in SEND in schools. For example, less interaction with adults will no doubt have an impact on children’s concentration span. This is because we rely on adults to help naturally extend our children’s concentration span by using language and expansion (linking what is happening to previous experiences). Likewise, less interaction with peers will have an impact on the development of inhibitory control. This will result in more children appearing to be at risk of ADHD than we would usually expect. 

Following on from above, has there been a rise in toddlers being referred for Autism Assessment? Has the pandemic impacted this? 
David Daley: It is too early to say whether the pandemic has impacted the underlying prevalence and presentation of Autism. Furthermore, waiting times for assessments that were already long pre-pandemic has grown much longer post-pandemic. What is known is that the pandemic did exacerbate mental health problems such as anxiety in children with or at risk of Autism. 

Q – Nationally we are seeing a vocabulary gap. Has this heightened since lockdown? 
David Daley: There is very little research evidence to support a greater vocabulary gap post-pandemic. However, intuitively it would make sense that less contact with adults overall, and greater anxiety and stress among parents would negatively impact the patient discussions and teachable moments that underpin children’s acquisition of early vocabulary. Alternatively, it could be argued that the presence of parents and older siblings at home all day during lockdown may have enhanced vocabulary acquisition, but I would suspect not! 

Q – What are your thoughts on using more of the Scandinavian model where children do not reach formal learning to age 7? 
Michael Ungar: Ah, love it!!!! But I’m afraid our educational system is simply not ready for such a radical change. There is also a lot to the Scandinavian system regarding parenting, and community so the change would have to occur not just with schools but also include modifications of other institutions too. 

To catch up on the full Little Lockdowners webinar click here or tap the video below to hear our global panel of experts share their insights and solutions to support the development of young minds post-pandemic.

We also have a #TTSTALKING highlight on our Instagram (@_ttsinternational) that has more information about our Little Lockdowners webinar and panellists.

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