The Indian education sector has faced a major setback since the onset of the pandemic, leaving the 0 – 6 years of age cohort the most affected. Time and again, research has proven that these formative years of a child are an extremely crucial phase when it comes to their brain development. The absence of social interaction and a structured curriculum via an in-person classroom setup slowed down their learning and developmental journey, while parents were grappling with the highest degree of uncertainty around their children’s overall development and safety.
Against this backdrop, KLAY Preschools and Daycare conducted a #BackToSchool survey across two phases — the 1st in November 2020 and a 2nd in February 2021– among 2000 of its families. The aim of the survey was two-fold – to understand the unique needs of families during the pandemic and evaluate the parents’ willingness to send their children back to school and day-care in the “new normal”.
Some key insights from the survey are as follows:
- Parents willing to send children #BacktoSchool: The survey conducted in the month of November 2020 indicated that more than half of the respondents i.e. 53% were not in favour of sending their children to school. However, there was a significant shift in mindset in February 2021, with 85% in favour of sending their children to a “safe and happy” environment by June 2021
- Key reason for sending child #BacktoSchool:
- Parents believe that social interaction and physical activity are two of the most critical drivers when it comes overall development of their children and the lack of both these factors owing to the pandemic leads them to believe that their mental and emotional well-being is compromised
- With nearly half the respondents in the November 2020 survey taking care of their children without any support, work-life balance had taken a hit – this continues to be the case as per the February 2021 survey results
Of the total respondents, 60% parents shared their concerns on sending their children back to school. Below are the top concerns –
HEALTH & SAFETY – #1 PRIORITY
A whopping 21% were keen on knowing details of the safety protocols to be followed and 16% were apprehensive about sanitization of surfaces such as play-areas, toys and other items. 10% wanted to understand more on the vaccination plans for the staff.
PHYSICAL DISTANCING OF PRESCHOOLERS
11% expressed concern over how the school plans will be able to implement effective physical distancing. This is a valid concern since it is a difficult task for children below 6 years to sit in one place and maintain distance from each other.
ENABLING SMOOTH TRANSITION FROM HOME TO SCHOOL
Majority of parents are also anxious about how their children are likely to settle into the new environment if it’s their first schooling experience or the fact that they have been away for an entire academic year.
“2020 has been a tough year – for you as parents and for us as educators. But there has been more disruption in the little one’s life. They have had very little social interaction and few avenues to spend their energies or learn. We know how social interaction and a structured curriculum in the first 6 years are critical to optimize the rapid brain development in the child. Therefore as caregivers, we must work together to ensure that we provide a safe avenue to facilitate this as early as possible.” Srikanth AK, CEO, KLAY Preschools and Daycare said.
“The safety of our children is and has always been of utmost importance to all of us at KLAY. We have worked day and night to ensure we leave no stone unturned while preparing our schools to welcome back the little ones. There has been evidence based on a study by a Yale professor that childcare offers a safe, low-risk environment for children, which is encouraging. Nevertheless, we assure you that, whatever hurdles we face along the way, we will solve it together,” he added.