Since the start of the lockdown children aged 8 to 14 have been part of a conversation with Children’s Parliament about their experiences of the virus and of lockdown. From questions and worries, to learning at home, from family and peer relationships, to health and wellbeing, children have been responding in large numbers to a monthly wellbeing survey called How are you doing? Members of Children’s Parliament have also been working as journalists and writing in response to questions posed over a series of Corona Times Journals. All the work is published here: bit.ly/Coronavirus_Kids
What did children tell us?
Learning during lockdown
When it comes to learning at home, and as time passed, children reported less choice and a declining sense of fun or pride in work and increased levels of boredom. Over the duration of lockdown they were increasingly worried about doing school work and learning at home. Older children, 12 to 14 years old, were less likely to see learning at home positively.
Learning can be easier because you don’t get distractions or get interrupted. My school gave me a Chromebook, before that it was tricky.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 11
Learning in my house is terrible. It’s so hard and confusing. I prefer to have a teacher. I’m worried about going back to school. How are they going to do social distancing? How are they going to organise the classes for learning? People might not be happy with the arrangements. I don’t understand how they’ll do lunches, normally we can wander. It would be good if the school was more in touch, like how are my choices for S3 going to work out? Why don’t they explain all this?Member of Children’s Parliament, age 14
It’s overwhelming sometimes, always trying to get it all done. I’m a bit worried about going back to school. Before school broke off I was having problems at school. My guidance teacher who I liked has now left and I’m going back to a new class and a new timetable.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 13
Mental health during lockdown
Of real concern was that over time children were indicating via our survey and Journal a decline in mental wellbeing, indicating they were generally less likely to feel cheerful and in a good mood and that they had less energy. Children told us they were increasingly feeling lonely and less sure than in difficult times they would be okay; this was particularly true for girls.
I feel a bit happier because I see my mummy more, but sometimes I feel sad or angry too because we can’t do the things that we usually do.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 8
I used to feel quite good most days. Now, some days are better, some days are worse. What’s better is having more time with my family, more time at home, more time playing games. What’s worse is that some days I just have a good day but some days I just feel sad all day. I just wake up feeling sad. That didn’t really happen before lockdown. I think it’s because I’m not seeing my friends now.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 10
My physical health isn’t so good. I’m thinner than I was before, I don’t eat as much as I used to. I used to be able to walk far distances, now I get sore. I’d say my mental health is better that when it first started. At first I was stressed, I didn’t know what to do. I got used to it. Now I’m excited about seeing friends, actually seeing them.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 14
Routines and lockdown
Children have also reported on aspects of life that will need to be reconsidered with the return to school. Importantly there will be a need to re-establish routines.
I am going to bed earlier, but not to sleep, I like to doodle. I find it really hard to get up in the morning. I think it’s hard because I’m out of my usual routine.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 12
Well the good things about staying at home are that you can stay in your pyjamas and you don’t need to get up at eight but it has ruined my routine a little and now it’s almost impossible to not get bored. My sleep schedule went haywire after lockdown.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 12
Parents, carers and home life during lockdown
With this all being said, the most important source of support for children reported via our survey and Corona Times Journal was parents and carers. When children identified positive aspects of lockdown it was about spending time with parents or siblings, perhaps when they stepped away from just doing learning provided by school and instead baked together or played games. Children also said they liked the (albeit limited) opportunities to do things like walk or cycle together. While children did report worries about ‘falling behind’ it was also common to hear that children enjoyed their parents as teachers, and felt less anxious or stressed when learning at home.
Learning at home is great. My mum says she’s going to miss it when we go back to school. I’ll also miss it because it’ll mean less time with my family. That’s what school means to me – it takes you away from your parents. Going back to school is good because it’s going to be outdoor learning… And I feel happy when I’m outside!Member of Children’s Parliament, age 10
Things were okay at home before. We all got on well but didn’t see each other loads. Now we’re doing a lot more things together. My sister’s not at nursery, my dad’s not working and my mum’s a bit less busy, and I’m not at school, so we’re seeing each other a lot more and we’re getting on good.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 10
Now we are in the house all the time there is a lot more arguing. It’s because normally I’d be outside with my friends, we’d all be doing what we do, we’d be at school. I think we are all looking forward to going back to school. The good thing is I get to talk to my brother and sister more, normally we are just with our own friends.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 14
What do adults need to understand?
This feedback from children is offered as illustrative of what has been shared in our conversations with children. Now, you can use the activities in this resource to help your children share and move forward when it comes to relationships and learning that are about recovery. A few final words from our contributors:
I want adults to think about how hard it is to be stuck with someone else all the time and we can’t do what we usually do, so we have to think of new things to do instead. And that we’re worried about how many people are getting sick. It’s hard to be a kid under lockdown because our lives have changed so much and it’s annoying and sad and scary.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 8
Adults just need to understand that it’s a difficult time for everyone right now, so if there are problems or arguments at home just take time to calm down because we all need to get on with each other because if there’s a time in life when we need to help each other then it’s now! When I’m chatting with my friends they are all worried and confused on different things, but mostly worried that it’s gonna get worse or it’s not gonna stop. Some friends are worried about their older family members and about their health and scared of them catching it the way they say it is. Well after lock down if the schools go back straight away then I won’t be going back until there’s no more deaths.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 13
Adults need to understand that children need school and friends just as much as they need work and friends. We’re just as bored, if not more bored than them and it’s just because children naturally need something to do. I think my friends’ biggest concern is their elderly relatives since it can be so bad for the older people. It’s annoying to not be able to see your grandparents and things for so long. Except from that, being bored is the only thing they’re worried about.Member of Children’s Parliament, age 12
To read the full reports from our ‘How are You Doing?’ surveys, and to read all contributions the Corona Times Journal, go to bit.ly/Coronavirus_Kids