Research shows us that children need rich and frequent oral language experiences in their younger years to set the foundation for long-term learning. Storytelling, pretending, asking questions, and reading books are all important for language development. When children participate in these activities and lots of daily conversations, they have the opportunity to practice their listening skills, play with words, recognize rhymes, notice letters, and read books. Unfortunately, not every child grows up in circumstances that easily provide them access to all of those opportunities.

If families and caregivers have access to technology, books, and other learning tools, they’re much more likely to be able to provide those experiences to children. The school closures caused by COVID-19 have brought to light inequities and real challenges that existed before this crisis in the world of early childhood education. Though socioeconomic circumstances certainly impact equity in education, there are many other factors as well.

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The challenge has become: How can schools work to best support all families as they support their children? Right now, families can no longer rely on educational settings to provide the academic experiences. Teachers must recognize and learn to best support the great amount of learning that takes place outside of the school setting. Children need families and educators to work in partnership to design goals and develop plans for the child. Education must be a process of co-creation, where educators and families together work to find the best ways to reach each student.

About the Author:

Jenni Torres is a former public school Spanish teacher. She earned her MEd at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, and is currently in the Educational Policy and Leadership doctoral program at American University. She is the vice president of curriculum at She can be reached at