The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the greatest disruption to children’s schooling in generations. This study analyses primary school children’s emotional engagement with remote schooling during the Spring 2020 lockdown in the Republic of Ireland, which involved one of the longest school closures among rich countries at the time. It investigates whether children’s engagement with their remote schooling varied by personal and family characteristics, using data from the Children’s School Lives (CSL) surveys. CSL is a nationally representative study of primary schools in Ireland, which collected information from children aged 8–9 years in May – August 2019 and in May – July 2020. Linear regression estimates with school fixed effects are based on the analytic sample of nearly 400 children (from across 71 schools) who took part in both waves and have complete data on all the key variables. Emotional engagement with schooling is measured using child-reported items on satisfaction with schooling. Everything else being equal, children who reported higher engagement with schooling before the pandemic were more engaged with remote schooling during the lockdown. Although there were no significant differences by family affluence, children with greater resources for home schooling reported higher levels of engagement. This includes having a computer or a laptop for schoolwork, having someone to help with schoolwork if the child is worried about falling behind, and having schoolwork checked by a teacher. This points to the paramount importance of adequate digital technologies in the home as well as the availability of help during periods of remote schooling.


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Cite as

Chzhen, Y., Symonds, J., Devine, D., Mikolai, J., Harkness, S., Sloan, S. & Martinez Sainz, G. 2022, 'Learning in a pandemic: primary school children’s emotional engagement with remote schooling during the Spring 2020 Covid-19 lockdown in Ireland', Child Indicators Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12187-022-09922-8

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Last updated: 03 September 2022
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