Special Issue "Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic"

A special issue of Children (ISSN 2227-9067). This special issue belongs to the section "Integrative Pediatrics".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (5 April 2023) | Viewed by 14024

Special Issue Editors

Department of Education, Languages, Intercultures, Literatures and Psychology, University of Florence, 50129 Florence, Italy
Interests: language disorder; specific learning disorder; cognitive rehabilitation; home-based interventions; assessment; empowerment and rehabilitation of executive functions
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Department of Education, Languages, Intercultures, Literatures and Psychology, University of Florence, 50129 Florence, Italy
Interests: attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); learning disabilities; executive functions; training; telerehabilitation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Over the last two years, in order to limit COVID-19 infections, lockdowns took place in almost all countries around the world, involving school closures and the adoption of distance learning. This method minimizes classroom teaching but emphasizes the use of online tools.

This new emergency situation represented a considerable challenge for the school system but, above all, for children who have lost the opportunity to live all the learning and social experiences that school offers them during such critical years.

For the families themselves, it was not easy to face this change. The forced coexistence of many people who had to carry out their work and school activities in the same environment has often led to tensions that particularly affect children and their growth. This complex situation may, therefore, have negatively affected children's learning and emotional states.

This Special Issue aims to offer an overview to evidence-based studies on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on emotions and learnings in children from preschool till pre-adolescence, as well as analysis on how changing didactic style and lifestyle may impact the learnings and emotions of this population.

Consideration of a particular population of children with specific psychopathology (learning disabilities, attention deficit, and hyperactivity disorder) are well accepted.

Dr. Chiara Pecini
Dr. Agnese Capodieci
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Children is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • emotion
  • learning
  • school
  • family
  • children

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Article
Emotional and Behavioral Problems of Children with ASD—The Lessons That We Learned from the Pandemic
Children 2023, 10(6), 969; https://doi.org/10.3390/children10060969 - 30 May 2023
Viewed by 370
Abstract
The data available for changes in the behavior and emotional state of children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) in lockdown situations are controversial and scarce. In our research, we compare results before the first COVID-19 lockdown of 21 children with ASD and 21 [...] Read more.
The data available for changes in the behavior and emotional state of children with ASD (autism spectrum disorder) in lockdown situations are controversial and scarce. In our research, we compare results before the first COVID-19 lockdown of 21 children with ASD and 21 typically developing children, four to five years of age with those obtained immediately after. The study attempts to answer the question of whether there are changes in the levels of emotional and behavioral problems in children with ASD after the lockdown and how these new living conditions affect some aspects of their functioning. The instruments used for data analysis are the Childhood Autism Spectrum Test (CAST); Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL); Survey on the consequences of COVID-19 on the life and development of the participants. No significant differences in the emotional and behavioral state of the participants were found, except for attention deficit/hyperactivity problems where ASD children showed lower levels after the lockdown. ASD group parents’ answers to the survey pointed towards more positive consequences of staying at home. Some reported they had more time for learning together, communicating, playing, and assisting the learning process through online therapy. As negatives, the parents of ASD children reported low physical activity, increased time with electronic devices, and time spent with the same people. Caregivers of typically developing children agreed that the lockdown had only negative effects. To conclude, for children with ASD in the study, the lockdown period demonstrated that more time spent with parents in structured everyday activities is an opportunity that can lead to positive results in their behavior. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
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Article
Lifestyle Pathways Affecting Children’s Mental Health in Japan during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Children 2023, 10(6), 943; https://doi.org/10.3390/children10060943 - 26 May 2023
Viewed by 322
Abstract
The recent prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the daily lives of preschoolers and elementary school children worldwide. Although these changes may have affected their mental health, the full picture still remains unknown. Since March 2020, Japan has intermittently experienced several COVID-19 waves. This [...] Read more.
The recent prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the daily lives of preschoolers and elementary school children worldwide. Although these changes may have affected their mental health, the full picture still remains unknown. Since March 2020, Japan has intermittently experienced several COVID-19 waves. This survey was conducted between February and March 2022. In this study, we investigated the pathways by which specific lifestyle factors (such as exercise, sleep, diet, and life skills) affect physical/psychosocial health (PPH) in 1183 preschoolers (3–5 years old) and 3156 elementary school children (6–11 years old) in Toyama Prefecture, Japan. These pathways were examined using a path analysis. Consequently, “life skills” was found to be the factor most strongly associated with PPH in both preschoolers and elementary school children (p < 0.001). Furthermore, it was associated with the physical activity score and with PPH via physical activity. Moreover, both boys’ and girls’ mental health declined with age among elementary school children (p < 0.001). The results of the current study may be helpful for early interventions (around the start of elementary school) at home and at school to improve children’s mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
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Article
Determining Positive Behavioral Skills in Different Age Groups of Young Basketball Players during the Pandemic
Children 2023, 10(6), 914; https://doi.org/10.3390/children10060914 - 23 May 2023
Viewed by 370
Abstract
Assessing psychological indicators such as positive behavioral skills in the context of adolescent personality development during the pandemic era is highly relevant: the growing problem of peer disrespect among adolescents who participate in sports has recently become an undeniable scientific issue. This study [...] Read more.
Assessing psychological indicators such as positive behavioral skills in the context of adolescent personality development during the pandemic era is highly relevant: the growing problem of peer disrespect among adolescents who participate in sports has recently become an undeniable scientific issue. This study aimed to analyze positive behavioral skills in the cadet (U16) and junior (U18) age groups of young basketball players during the COVID-19 pandemic. The participants were 378 male athletes (age 16.36 ± 1.15 years). Results revealed that U18 athletes are more capable of taking responsibility, positively evaluating themselves, behaving pro-socially with teammates, cooperating, demonstrating assertiveness, demonstrating self-control, and managing emotions than U16 adolescent athletes. When comparing the effect sizes in the current study during the pandemic with similar studies by other authors, the pandemic may have had a larger negative effect on some positive behavioral skills (ability to control emotions, social responsibility skills, cooperation skills) in U16 athletes than in U18 athletes, as the effect sizes were small before the pandemic and moderate during the pandemic in the current study. This study’s results may be useful for developing and implementing a young athletes’ education program based on a comprehensive model of positive behavioral skills that include the indicators analyzed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
Evolution of Youth’s Mental Health and Quality of Life during the COVID-19 Pandemic in South Tyrol, Italy: Comparison of Two Representative Surveys
Children 2023, 10(5), 895; https://doi.org/10.3390/children10050895 - 17 May 2023
Viewed by 379
Abstract
Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has led to an increase in youth mental health problems worldwide. Studies have revealed substantial variation in the incidence of these problems across different regions. Longitudinal studies of children and adolescents in Italy are lacking. This study [...] Read more.
Background: The coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic has led to an increase in youth mental health problems worldwide. Studies have revealed substantial variation in the incidence of these problems across different regions. Longitudinal studies of children and adolescents in Italy are lacking. This study aimed to investigate the development of health-related quality of life (HRQoL) and mental health in Northern Italy by comparing surveys conducted in June 2021 and in March 2022. Methods: A representative, large cross-sectional, online survey investigated HRQoL, psychosomatic complaints, and symptoms of anxiety and depression among 5159 and 6675 children and adolescents in 2021 and 2022, respectively, using the KIDSCREEN-10 index, HBSC symptom checklist, SCARED, CES-DC, and PHQ-2 instruments. Statistical analyses included a multivariate linear regression analysis. Results: Baseline characteristics showed significant differences in demographic variables between the two surveys. Girls and their parents reported a significantly lower HRQoL in 2021 than in 2022. Psychosomatic complaints differed significantly between sexes, and the results showed no decrease in psychosomatic complaints, anxiety, or depression between 2021 and 2022. Predictors of HRQoL, anxiety, depressive symptoms, and psychosomatic complaints in 2022 differed from those in 2021. Conclusions: The characteristics of the 2021 pandemic, including lockdowns and home schooling, may have contributed to the differences between the two surveys. As most pandemic restrictions ended in 2022, the results confirm the need for measures to improve the mental and physical health of children and adolescents after the pandemic. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
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Article
The Effects of COVID-19 on the Emotional and Social Stability, Motivation and Attitudes of Gifted and Non-Gifted Children in Greece
Children 2023, 10(4), 706; https://doi.org/10.3390/children10040706 - 10 Apr 2023
Viewed by 642
Abstract
Gifted children exhibit advanced cognitive abilities, usually beyond their emotional development, which puts them at higher risk of the negative consequences of isolation. This study investigates the effects of distance learning and home confinement on the emotional and social stability, motivation, and attitudes [...] Read more.
Gifted children exhibit advanced cognitive abilities, usually beyond their emotional development, which puts them at higher risk of the negative consequences of isolation. This study investigates the effects of distance learning and home confinement on the emotional and social stability, motivation, and attitudes of gifted and non-gifted children in Greece. Our study includes two subsets, from before (September 2017 to March 2020) and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic (April 2020 to March 2022). The analysis indicated that home confinement and distance learning caused children to create a stronger attachment with their parents, and it increased the involvement of parents in their child’s school experience. Non-gifted children displayed high levels of certain attitudes (perfectionism, desire for acceptance, and condescending behavior) and demonstrated elevated motivation. Gifted children in the pre-COVID-19 period had already displayed increased levels of condescending attitude, which is assumed to be the result of already existing expectations from their parents. The pandemic further increased this attitude, as a result of the higher expectations of their parents. Overall, the study highlighted the importance of children to have more than one support system and the need for them to strengthen their self-image. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
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Article
COVID-19 Pandemic Affects Children’s Education but Opens up a New Learning System in a Romanian Rural Area
Children 2023, 10(1), 92; https://doi.org/10.3390/children10010092 - 02 Jan 2023
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1133
Abstract
(1) Background: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the educational system in Romania faced major challenges. Online knowledge development was necessary and mandatory during this time; (2) Methods: our study included a group of 140 preadolescents and used a phenomenology qualitative method [...] Read more.
(1) Background: In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the educational system in Romania faced major challenges. Online knowledge development was necessary and mandatory during this time; (2) Methods: our study included a group of 140 preadolescents and used a phenomenology qualitative method to investigate if the novel online teaching, implemented in a hurry during the pandemic without any previous teacher training, managed to replace face-to-face teaching; (3) Results: The students have expressed their joy for online courses, as long as they are kept interactive. Even though they feel nervous and worried when it comes to evaluation, the students claim they feel capable to learn all of the learning materials. Most of them are pleased by classes and do not get bored during them, feeling constantly motivated to actively participate in dialogue; (4) Discussions: Despite the lack of teaching-method standardization, our learning providers succeeded in accomplishing their tasks during online courses. Even in remote rural areas, they managed to assure the means for these children to access and take part in online courses; (5) Conclusions: our learning system must offer teachers the possibility to emphasize online education using adequate training programs aiming to develop technical and online pedagogical skills. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
COVID-19 and Vulnerable Children Well-Being: Interview with Left-Behind Children in Rural China
Children 2022, 9(9), 1317; https://doi.org/10.3390/children9091317 - 29 Aug 2022
Viewed by 1103
Abstract
Purpose of the study: This study sought to explore the psychological well-being, academic adjustment, and quality of parental attachment of LBC during COVID-19 based on Left-Behind Children’s (LBC) word of mouth. Method: In light of the abundance of quantitative studies, this qualitative study [...] Read more.
Purpose of the study: This study sought to explore the psychological well-being, academic adjustment, and quality of parental attachment of LBC during COVID-19 based on Left-Behind Children’s (LBC) word of mouth. Method: In light of the abundance of quantitative studies, this qualitative study explored the psychological, academic, and parental attachment experiences of rural LBC during COVID-19. To this end, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 22 LBCs aged 10–15 in May 2021. Result: The study results reveal that LBCs developed severe psychological illnesses after the pandemic severely disrupted their already disturbed lives. Our findings showed that most LBCs feel they do not need their parents, which reflects their long record of hopelessness and agony regarding the absence of their parents. Conclusion: Although COVID-19 is a global problem, its impact was particularly devastating for LBCs who have nobody around who could help them with their academic, personal and social need. In the modern COVID-19 era, it seems that Chinese grandparenting has become unreliable in the face of radical change in contemporary Education, society, and the economic system. Therefore, this study suggests that the Chinese government should seek to identify and monitor these children by working with NGOs that target such children. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
Article
Investigating Children’s Ability to Express Internal States through Narratives and Drawings: Two Longitudinal Studies during Pandemic
Children 2022, 9(8), 1165; https://doi.org/10.3390/children9081165 - 03 Aug 2022
Viewed by 866
Abstract
The COVID-19 pandemic emergency has challenged children’s socio-affective and cognitive development. It is essential to capture the modulation of their emotional experience through ecological and children-friendly tasks, such as written narratives and drawings. This contribution investigates the impact of pandemic experience (2020–2021 waves) [...] Read more.
The COVID-19 pandemic emergency has challenged children’s socio-affective and cognitive development. It is essential to capture the modulation of their emotional experience through ecological and children-friendly tasks, such as written narratives and drawings. This contribution investigates the impact of pandemic experience (2020–2021 waves) on the internal states and emotions of the primary school age children, according to a longitudinal research approach through narratives (study 1 n = 21) and drawing tasks (study 2 n = 117). 138 Italian children were examined during COVID-19 three (study 1) or two waves (study 2). Children’s written narratives were codified on the basis of narrative competence and psychological lexicon. Children’s drawings were codified based on social/emotional, physical, and environmental elements. Results of narrative texts showed a lower psychological lexicon relating to positive emotions and a greater psychological lexicon relating to negative emotions only in the study sample group during the first lockdown compared to the previous and subsequent periods. Children’s drawings of themselves showed a decrease of negative emotions during the third pandemic wave in comparison to the first pandemic wave. Results inform mental health services, school practitioners, and parents about the importance of written narratives and drawings for promoting well-being in the developmental age. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
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Article
Executive Functions and Rapid Automatized Naming: A New Tele-Rehabilitation Approach in Children with Language and Learning Disorders
Children 2022, 9(6), 822; https://doi.org/10.3390/children9060822 - 02 Jun 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1462
Abstract
Executive function deficits are documented in many neurodevelopmental disorders and may contribute to clinical complexity or rehabilitation resilience. The present research was primarily aimed at presenting and evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of a telerehabilitation program used during the pandemic period. MemoRAN (Anastasis), [...] Read more.
Executive function deficits are documented in many neurodevelopmental disorders and may contribute to clinical complexity or rehabilitation resilience. The present research was primarily aimed at presenting and evaluating the feasibility and effectiveness of a telerehabilitation program used during the pandemic period. MemoRAN (Anastasis), a computerised cognitive training to improve executive control during visual-verbal integration tasks was used in a sample of 42 children (5–11 years old) with specific learning or language disorders. The MemoRAN training was based on exercises of inhibition, cognitive flexibility and updating in working memory for three months, with a frequency of approximately three sessions per week. Afterwards, a comparison between a subgroup of children using Memo-RAN and an active control group, using a tele-rehabilitation program directed on reading was conducted. Effect size analysis in pre-post measurements suggests an average effect of MemoRAN in measurements that require control processes, such as accuracy in dictation, reading, inhibition and working memory testing. Comparison with the active control group and the clinical utility implications of these types of treatment will be discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
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Article
Mental Well-Being during the COVID-19 Confinement among Adolescents in Catalonia: The Role of Demographic and Other COVID-Related Variables
Children 2022, 9(6), 783; https://doi.org/10.3390/children9060783 - 26 May 2022
Viewed by 1363
Abstract
This study aimed to describe the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social situation, self-perceived health status, and mental well-being of adolescents in Catalonia during home confinement, and to evaluate factors that are associated with poor overall mental well-being. An online cross-sectional [...] Read more.
This study aimed to describe the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social situation, self-perceived health status, and mental well-being of adolescents in Catalonia during home confinement, and to evaluate factors that are associated with poor overall mental well-being. An online cross-sectional study among a cohort of students (14–18 years old) of central Catalonia (DESKcohort) was performed during June–July 2020. Poisson regression models with robust variance were used to identify variables associated with “poor overall well-being,” measured by the short version of the Warwick–Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale. Out of 303 participants, 42.1% reported a decrease in family income, and 32.8% a loss of parental employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and these percentages were higher among people living in low socioeconomic neighborhoods (53.3% and 43.2%, respectively). Overall, 56.8% presented a poor overall well-being. Participants reporting a decrease in their family’s income (aPR = 1.33) and those knowing a close person or family who died of COVID-19 (aPR = 1.42) were more likely to report a poor overall well-being. This study highlights the patterns of inequality and social vulnerability for COVID-19 pandemic outcomes. Considering social inequalities, interventions are needed to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the physical and the psychological wellbeing of children and their families. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
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Article
Mental Health and Health-Related Quality of Life in German Adolescents after the Third Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Children 2022, 9(6), 780; https://doi.org/10.3390/children9060780 - 25 May 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1462
Abstract
Evaluations after the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany showed an increase in mental health problems and a reduction in health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The aim of the study was to assess those aspects after the third wave [...] Read more.
Evaluations after the first and second waves of the COVID-19 pandemic in Germany showed an increase in mental health problems and a reduction in health-related quality of life (HRQoL). The aim of the study was to assess those aspects after the third wave of COVID-19 in adolescents who decided to receive a vaccination. In students aged 12–17 years recruited from schools in one German region, mental health (by the strengths and difficulties questionnaire, SDQ) and HRQoL (by KIDSCREEN-10) were assessed by both a self- and parental report. Data from 1412 adolescents (mean age 14.3 years, SD = 1.64) and 908 parents were collected. The mean self-reported HRQoL was T = 53.7 (SD = 11.2), significantly higher in boys than in girls and higher in younger (12–14 years) than in older (15–17 years) adolescents. In total, 18.7% of adolescents reported clinically relevant psychological symptoms, especially peer problems (23.5%), emotional problems (17.4%), and hyperactivity (17.1%). Comparing the present data to evaluations after the first and second waves of COVID-19, adolescents rated a higher HRQoL and reported less mental health problems after the third wave. After 1.5 years of living with the pandemic, adolescents have adapted to the changes in everyday life. Further, the relaxation of restrictions, better school organization, and the prospect of the vaccination may have increased optimism, wellbeing, and contentment, leading to declining but still alarming rates of psychological symptoms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)

Review

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Review
COVID-19 Infection in Children and Infants: Current Status on Therapies and Vaccines
Children 2022, 9(2), 249; https://doi.org/10.3390/children9020249 - 12 Feb 2022
Cited by 48 | Viewed by 3354
Abstract
Since the beginning in December 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak appeared to affect mostly the adult population, sparing the vast majority of children who only showed mild symptoms. The purpose of this investigation is to assess the status on the mechanisms that give children [...] Read more.
Since the beginning in December 2019, the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak appeared to affect mostly the adult population, sparing the vast majority of children who only showed mild symptoms. The purpose of this investigation is to assess the status on the mechanisms that give children and infants this variation in epidemiology compared to the adult population and its impact on therapies and vaccines that are aimed towards them. A literature review, including in vitro studies, reviews, published guidelines and clinical trials was performed. Clinical trials concerned topics that allowed a descriptive synthesis to be produced. Four underlying mechanisms were found that may play a key role in providing COVID-19 protection in babies. No guidelines are available yet for therapy due to insufficient data; support therapy remains the most used. Only two vaccines are approved by the World Health Organization to be used in children from 12 years of age, and there are currently no efficacy or safety data for children below the age of 12 years. The COVID-19 clinical frame infection is milder in children and adolescents. This section of the population can act as vectors and reservoirs and play a key role in the transmission of the infection; therefore, vaccines are paramount. More evidence is required to guide safely the vaccination campaign. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Children’s Emotion and Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic)
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