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A look at the pandemic's impact on early childhood education

What hurdles lie ahead in the upcoming school year?
Posted at 8:08 PM, Aug 11, 2021

(WXYZ) — What lasting impact does the impact have on early childhood education?

We spoke with Christina Weiland, associate professor of education at the University of Michigan and Ford School of Public Policy, to discuss the pandemic and early education, as well as the challenges that lie ahead for the upcoming school year.

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"The pandemic has had really profound effects on young kids and their teachers," Weiland said, adding that there have been hundreds of studies examining what teachers and students have experienced.

Many parents, during the pandemic, have decided to keep their young kids home out of safety.

For students who were in-person learning last year, classrooms looked very different, Weiland said. Instead of hands-on experiences, there were individual activities and smaller groups.

"And that's added up to what we see in the data, which is that for kindergarten and first-grade they experienced substantial learning setbacks last year, and that's not to say that you can't bounce back from that – young kids absolutely can. But it's going to take concerted effort."

Weiland also talked about the toll the pandemic has taken on teachers as well.

"Among early education educators, nationally there's been a spike in mental health concerns and depression that's very concerning, and there's now a teacher shortage in early childhood that's led to some classrooms and centers not being able to reopen and welcome students back this fall," Weiland said.