Billions of children out of school: here’s how to cope

covid 19 parenting image

‘Parenting in the time of COVID-19’ launched in partnership with the World Health Organisation and UNICEF

With 1.5 billion children now out of school - over 85% of all enrolled children in the world – parents and carers across the globe are rapidly coming to terms with the challenges of parenting in the time of COVID-19. To help parents cope, the University of Oxford has launched a set of parenting tips, in partnership with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF.

‘Globally, we are now parenting under extremely stressful conditions,’ says Lucie Cluver, Professor of Child and Family Social Work at DSPI, who developed the tips. ‘Not only are children and teenagers out of school, but families are living with increased stress, fear and financial worries. All of these make us less tolerant and more irritable. At its most serious, we know that violence in homes increases during times of school closures associated with health emergencies. But this is for everyone who needs and deserves effective parenting support.’

The Parenting for Lifelong Health and UKRI GCRF Accelerate Hub teams at Oxford have produced a set of 6 one-page tips for parents which cover planning one-on-one time, staying positive, creating a daily routine, avoiding bad behaviour, managing stress, and talking about COVID-19. Available from the World Health Organisation  and UNICEF, the downloadable sheets contain great advice condensed from their non-commercial evidence-based parenting programmes. 

‘These tips and social media messages are based on the highest quality evidence,’ says Professor Cluver. ‘Since 2012 our research teams have conducted a series of randomised controlled trials of non-commercialised parenting programmes in Africa, Asia and Europe. The programmes we developed - with WHO and UNICEF - are now delivered in 25 countries globally.

‘These tips are for all of us who are wondering how we are going to manage with our children at home for the next weeks or months! But this time of hardship may also allow for creative opportunity: a chance to build stronger relationships with our families, and to have fun together - which is great for children’s wellbeing and sense of security.’

Volunteers are currently translating the sheets into 55 languages, with translations available on covid19parenting.com. The resources are backed up by a letter published in The Lancet on 25 March 2020.

These resources were developed in partnership with WHO, UNICEF, the Internet of Good Things, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USAID and the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children.