When the pandemic hit more than 18 months ago, many young children stayed at home for their junior kindergarten year or did remote learning during kindergarten. Now, some of these children are struggling to adjust to school life and teachers are noticing, says a University of Guelph-Humber early childhood education researcher.

Dr. Nikki Martyn
Dr. Nikki Martyn

Dr. Nikki Martyn, is the program head of Early Childhood Studies at the University of Guelph-Humber. She said she is hearing from educators that young children who missed out on early learning opportunities due to pandemic lockdowns are struggling with critical skills such as how to interact with other children, or how to focus and follow instructions.

It’s not unusual for those in junior kindergarten to lack skills such as putting coats on by themselves, but she said it’s now the whole class, junior and senior kindergarten students, who need help.

Whether these challenges will cause long-term problems or setbacks for children remains to be seen, but Martyn notes that younger children tend to be resilient and adaptable.

Martyn’s insights have recently been featured by national media including in The Globe and Mail, CP24 and The Canadian Press.

Martyn holds a doctorate in early childhood education and child psychology and has more than 15 years of experience in children’s mental health, child psychology and early childhood education.

She is available to discuss what parents should watch for to know if their children are struggling as well as ideas for how to make the transition easier.


Dr. Nikki Martyn