Caroline Hu Flexer: What will change as a result of the pandemic

For Part 2 of the Voices on the Future of Childhood series, we asked experts to take a stab at predicting the future by offering their thoughts on “What will change in the coming months and/or years as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.” 

Caroline Hu FlexerThe same magic of childhood, new delivery

Caroline Hu Flexer is the CEO and co-founder of Khan Academy Kids and Duck Duck Moose.

For the youngest children, social distancing and school closures have taken away the bedrocks of their daily routines. Library story times, circle time with teachers and peers, and playtime with friends have suddenly disappeared from the daily schedule. A child’s cognitive, emotional, and social foundation for life is formed during their first five years, and these experiences are a critical part of that development. This is also when children are most vulnerable to toxic stress. Right now, families are stretched thin as they balance the demands of child care, work, and remote schooling on top of heightened health, financial, and emotional concerns.

Creators and experts in early childhood will invent new experiences to preserve the magic of childhood for young children, so they can continue to learn and play. Great design innovations often occur within significant constraints. School closures have already prompted the reinvention of learning experiences, incorporating play patterns like show and tell, sing-alongs and imaginary play. Technology can be a powerful platform for delivering some of these experiences. But, creators must focus on preserving human connection by empathizing with children about the changes they are experiencing, giving them language to express their feelings, and bringing out joyful moments through physical play.

Creators should do everything they can to develop resources and support parents so that parents can focus on the important work of raising their children. Childhood can be protected during this turbulent time—with joy, imagination, wonder, and a sense of security for young children.


See more posts in this series:

Voices on the Future of Childhood

Alan Gershenfeld | Caroline Hu Flexer | David Kleeman | Jeremy Bailenson

Matthew Kam | Michael Rich | Mimi Ito | Warren Buckleitner


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