Listening to, capturing and understanding the experiences of young children during the pandemic.

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A research team based at the Centre for Research in Early Childhood (CREC) in Birmingham were funded by the Froebel Trust to collate young children's stories as they returned to their nursery schools and early years settings in September 2020, following national lockdowns and during pandemic restrictions. The project involved young children from three different countries - England, Scotland and New Zealand.

"Children have powerful narratives about how they have been affected by lockdowns and the subsequent opening up of public spaces and places, and we believe that this deserves serious consideration by practitioners and policy makers." Professor Tony Bertram and Professor Chris Pascal, CREC

Researchers documented children's stories using a Froebel Storytelling Approach - a method of gathering authentic narratives which places a child's perspective, voice and experience at the heart of the research process.

The study revealed a great deal about young children’s resilience, creativity and wisdom.

Model of the virus

A model of the Covid-19 virus made by a young child. Researchers found that giving children resources to make and model was seen as an important means by which children could create something that they wanted to explore. The sustained conversations during the process of creation and modelling were regarded as special and invaluable for listening to the child’s inner thoughts about what they were representing.
Covid songs

Researchers found that in all the schools and settings involved in the study, singing and music-making were utilised as a key means of expression and therapy, bonding the children together. The creation of new Covid-19 songs, or adaption of existing songs to relate to this time, was also popular with children, who appeared to find great humour and relief in songs that 'chased the virus away'.


Children told the researchers that they urgently wanted to:

  • regain their daily life and routines
  • be with their friends
  • have extended time to play
  • be outdoors
  • have authentic and detailed information about the pandemic.

The research project documented how early years educators and families supported young children through the pandemic - building deeper and more connected relationships and adapting daily routines to enable the children to manage the radical changes to daily life.

The research evidenced:

  • the need to slow down and listen more to children, parents and each other
  • how the shift to more email and phone contact with parents/ carers had strengthened relationships and made them more equitable
  • the value of starting sessions at settings and schools outside had a positive impact on children.

Guildford Nursery School was one of the settings involved in this study. Find out more how this school uses a Froebelian approach and book a free tour of the setting.

Meet the researchers

Prof. Tony Bertram and Prof. Chris Pascal presented their research project at the Froebel Trust Conference in 2021

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