Children's informal learning at home during COVID-19 lockdown

The national COVID-19 lockdown during school Term 1 2020 provided a unique context to investigate children’s experiences of informal, everyday learning in their household bubble. In Terms 3 and 4, 178 children in Years 4–8 from 10 primary schools agreed to participate in a group art-making activity and an individual interview about their experiences. The research adopted a strengths-based approach on the basis that most children are capable actors in their social worlds. This report documents children’s accounts of the multiple ways in which they negotiated the novel experience of forced confinement over a period of several weeks with family and whānau. The report is rich with children’s own accounts of their everyday living and learning during lockdown. To foreground children’s descriptions and explanations of their lockdown experience in this way is an acknowledgement of their right to express their views on matters of interest to them in their lives, and to have those views listened to, and acted on, by adults. Similarly, the approach reflects a growing educational research interest in student voice: enabling children to articulate their experiences so that adults can use this knowledge to better respond to and support children’s learning aspirations and needs. This research report does not speak for all children or all children’s experiences. Nevertheless, it does provide valuable insights about the phenomenon of children’s informal and everyday learning during lockdown, gained from a group of children for whom it was a mostly positive experience, and through which they learned much about themselves as persons and as members of a family and whānau. Several months after the event, children in this study were able and willing to recall their experiences of learning during lockdown. They could identify social, cultural, and historical dimensions of their learning at home. Some children were able to recount rich, detailed stories about their lockdown experience and the ways in which they organised their days and activities. For some others, their days were largely shaped for them by family and whānau members, but even so, the children were able to explain what they enjoyed, or did not, and why. Variations in children’s learning across the group highlighted the complexity of learning that each child experienced, and the importance of having social relations, environments, and contexts that encourage and support their learning. Children demonstrated an understanding and appreciation of the value of this learning.
informal learning, children's voice, learning, COVID-19 lockdown