Social Distancing and Development



Partners and collaborators

Oxford Brookes University, University of East Anglia, University of Oxford, University of Warwick


This project examines how changes in childcare, parenting style, social interactions, sleep, screen use, and outdoor activities/exercise affect young children’s cognitive development during the COVID-19 UK lockdowns. We are following a cohort of 600 8–36 month-old children living in the UK. Our research methods capture changes in their environment and measure the impact on vocabulary size and executive functions.


We are working with a wide range of beneficiaries and stakeholders to apply the research findings into practice, for example the Department for Education, the Public Accounts Committee's inquiry into the DfE’s response to COVID-19, the All Party Parliamentary Group for Childcare and Early Education, the Welsh Government, the Welsh Speech, Language & Communication workforce, the Parent-Infant Foundation, the National Literacy Trust, Oxfordshire Early Years Network, Leeds City Council.

Project website