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‘They are scared to try new things’: how is home school impacting young children?

After nearly a year of disrupted learning, primary school children in the UK have missed key milestones – as well as their friends. What will be the long term cost?

• In pictures: pets, plants and cuddly toys: a child’s eye view of home schooling

It is fair to say that Wells, eight, does not enjoy remote learning. “It’s horrible,” he tells a group of fellow year 4 children over a video call. “I can see my friends, but I can’t talk to them.” Emily, nine, finds home schooling tough, too: “It’s really, really boring. I’m sad. But I like being able to play with my guinea pigs.” Flora, also nine, agrees lockdown learning isn’t all bad: “It’s fun solving maths problems with my granny on Skype, and I get to have yummy snacks, like chocolate biscuits, all day.”

But they would all prefer to be at school. “There’s less distraction,” says Betty, who has two younger siblings and is expected to work independently in the afternoons. “When you’re in class, you can talk to your teacher and ask for help,” Ainhoa says. “Privately,” Wells adds. “You get their individual attention.” The children talk about feeling frustrated, stressed and even exhausted at the end of the school day. “Sometimes I just want to scrunch up the paper into pieces,” Ainhoa admits. “I really miss playing with my friends in the playground,” Flora says.

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