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Two-thirds of parents believe the pandemic has put their child behind

A survey uncovered how parents immerse their children in social interactions before and throughout the pandemic.

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education, elementary school, learning and people concept - group of school kids with pens and notebooks writing test in classroom
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Two-thirds of parents are relieved when the school year starts, but not because they want a break from their children.

According to a recent poll of 2,000 parents of children ages 0-6, 56% believe that returning to school gives their children an opportunity to regain normalcy by engaging in social activities.

And parents believe school is for more than just learning new things (54%); it’s also for making new friends (50%) and learning crucial social-emotional skills (48%), which can include those that help them cope with daily challenges and grow academically, professionally and socially.

Conducted by OnePoll, on behalf of The Goddard School, the survey uncovered how parents immerse their children in social interactions before and throughout the pandemic.

Overall, nearly two-thirds of parents (61%) believe that the pandemic has put their child behind both socially and developmentally.

Further, almost three-quarters (70%) of parents indicated social-emotional learning and learning social skills are the most important growth areas for their child.

In fact, learning social skills (36%) and gaining social-emotional intelligence (35%) were two of the top cited areas in which parents believe their children need the most support or improvement.

Pre-pandemic, more than half (55%) of parents engaged their child in some sort of social activity between three and six times per week.

But during the pandemic, that number dropped to 44%, and 11% of parents said their child engaged in zero social activities.

Today, the most common ways parents engage their children in social activities are through parents as caregivers talking and singing to them (47%) and attending family events (46%).

On average, parents believe their child has four friends.

In order to help them make more friends, parents are helping their children learn crucial social-emotional skills by engaging them in extracurricular or group activities (50%), teaching them how to listen to others (48%) and teaching them to share with others (44%).

"As families across the country continue to adapt to the evolving changes in daily life caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for social-emotional development has never been greater. The survey data shows parents are taking note and are prioritizing social-emotional development to help their children grow after a challenging period of time for us all,” said Dr. Lauren Starnes, senior vice president and chief academic officer at Goddard Systems, franchisor of The Goddard School. “It’s critical that children learn and have opportunities to practice essential social-emotional skills such as self-awareness, decision making, self-management, social awareness and friendship skills so they’re not just school ready, but also life and career ready.”

Parents are learning from their children too: 77% agree that they learn from their children just as much as their children learn from them.

The top two social-emotional skills that children have taught their parents are understanding (52%) and patience (52%).

And on top of that, parents admit that they’re surprised by their child’s maturity and intelligence about five times per week.

When asked about the most important social-emotional skill their child has taught them, one respondent said, “empathy, sometimes I forget how it is to be young and emphasize with their feelings. They are teaching me that now.”

Other popular responses included “happiness” and “honesty.”

“Schools today should be striving to strengthen the home-to-school connection and striving to be true partners of our students’ parents,” said Dennis R. Maple, chairman and CEO of Goddard Systems. “Children learn meaningful lessons at school, and parents are provided with the tools to continue their child’s education at home.”


  • Learning social skills - 47%
  • Making friends - 47%
  • Getting exposure to new situations - 45%
  • Learning how to problem solve - 45%
  • Gaining social-emotional intelligence - 44%
  • Learning how to be independent - 44%
  • Complying with social standards - 40%

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