Family influence on young children’s digital readiness of learning at home

Leigh Disney, Monash University, Australia (
Gretchen Geng, Australian Catholic University, Australia (

Background: Since March, 2020 when the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the COVID 19 as a pandemic, education and schooling has been rocked. Traditionally, parents who decide to educate their child from a home base assume overall responsibility for the planning, implementation and assessment of their child’s education. Different from the traditional home-schooling, children’s learning at home during the COVID-19 pandemic is another approach to early childhood education. They are asked to conduct distance learning or online learning at home with school teachers being not present physically. In the state of Victoria, most children have been studying at home since the end of March and continue their online home-schooling in Term 3 owing to the second wave of COVID-19. Before COVID-19, many children already had access to digital technologies. However, it is not clear that children are digitally ready for learning from home during the pandemic time.

Aim: To investigate whether children’s access and their parents’ knowledges and capabilities of using digital technologies have impact on their learning and engagement using digital technologies.

Method: A mixed-methods approach of both quantitative and qualitative methods (surveys and observation) has been used in this research study. Eighty parents of 80 3-to-4-year olds in long day care settings participated in the survey. Observation of the 80 children’s play was used to find these children’s engagement levels and their frequencies while young children were involved in the digital play.

Results: This study found that some areas of children’s digital engagement, such as persistence, precision, and complexity and creativity, can be improved through their access and play with different digital technologies at home. It is highly related to children’s parents’ technological skills and attitudes towards use and engagement with digital technologies.

Conclusions: The more exposure children have with quality digital technologies in an environment where they are scaffolded by expert parents, the greater their ability to utilise the learning tools, leading to higher levels of engagement. The findings can be used to foresee the future of young children’s digital engagement with the technologies.

Implications for children: You will be a part of world full of technology. Learning to use them will be an important part of your educational future.

Implications for families: You will need to consider the role of technologies in your children’s future. How you integrate this will influence their educational learning.  

Implications for practitioners: You shall consider the nexus between home and care for better aligning future early childhood education.

Key words: communication, education, COVID-19, qualitative methods, quantitative methods

This presentation relates to the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

SDG 4: Quality Education