Amy Jo Dowd, Head of Evidence at The LEGO Foundation

The @LEGOFoundation and @FutureLearn team up to support children affected by the social-emotional impacts of COVID-19 

Free course gives teachers and parents tools to practice learning through play to help children and young people learn how to cope with changes brought on by the pandemic

The LEGO Foundation is partnering with FutureLearn, the leading social learning platform, to deliver a new course designed to help teachers, parents and educational systems provide social-emotional learning (SEL) support to children aged 0-16 affected by COVID-19 disruption.

New data from Public Health England shows that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused an increase in anxiety in young people. The report found that two-fifths (41%) of children and young people said they were more lonely than before lockdown, and more than a third said they were more worried (38%), more sad (37%) or more stressed (34%). It also found that two-thirds of parents believe their children’s behaviour has changed since the start of the pandemic (69%) and when asked their top 3 worries around COVID-19, over half (52%) said the mental wellbeing of their children topped the list of their biggest worries.

With many parts of the world still in varying degrees of lockdown, and children's lives and school experiences continuing to be disrupted, the LEGO Foundation has developed the free online course, Coping with Changes: Social-Emotional Learning Through Play, to help primary caregivers and teachers build their capacity to respond to uncertain situations, and boost children’s socio-emotional wellbeing by learning through play.

The course covers the practical and emotional challenges facing children today, the foundations of learning through play, helpful stress management strategies, the importance of SEL in a crisis, adult wellbeing, and age sensitive SEL knowledge and activities. Learners will also consider the potential long term effects of crises on a child’s wellbeing and cognitive development, and how to best aid children in coping with changes and transitions. 

Amy Jo Dowd, Head of Evidence at The LEGO Foundation, said:

“Children across the world are experiencing a wide variety of changes due to COVID-19, many of which can have negative social and emotional impacts. At the LEGO Foundation we believe that learning through play is one of the key vehicles to help children, and adults, cope with changes as well as to build upon their social and emotional skills, which are especially important during times of challenge and crisis. During this course, our partners from the University of Cambridge, Harvard Graduate School of Education, University of Notre Dame and The Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Collaborative will share their deep knowledge of child development and social and emotional well-being and present simple play-based learning activities that support the development of social-emotional skills, such as recreating experiences through everyday materials, building chain reactions and making mood clouds.”

Finola Lang, Global Education Lead at FutureLearn, said:

“Adjusting to change is always difficult, and there is a real worry that young people, whose education and social development have been disrupted, might be some of the worst affected by the pandemic. New research is beginning to point to some of the troubling potential effects, such as the impact on child mental health. It is important that those supporting young people through this uncertain time take action to mitigate this impact. Through partnering with the LEGO Foundation we hope to bring their renowned expertise in learning through play to a global audience of learners and empower parents and teachers to equip children with the social-emotional tools to cope with these challenges and transitions.”

The LEGO Foundation is offering everyone who joins the Coping with Changes: Social-Emotional Learning Through Play course a free digital upgrade, so that learners can experience the full benefits of studying online for free. This means learners will receive unlimited access to this course for as long as it is on the FutureLearn platform, and a PDF Certificate of Achievement to prove their success when eligible.

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