This research paper focuses on situating young children’s experiences in childcare and early learning from Covid-19 lockdowns to the present in Delhi, India. The main findings are drawn from primary fieldwork with children in classes 1 and 2 (in August 2022) using child-centred participatory methods and unstructured interviews with seven caregivers. The main questions the paper explores are: how did young children experience learning and childcare during Covid-19 lockdown and the aftermath? And how can these experiences during lock-downs help us understand the current structuring of children’s daily lives? The conceptual tools used to explore these questions are drawn from theories situated within critical child-hood studies including the sociology of childhood, and at the intersection of culture and child development. The findings reveal the changing nature of priorities in childcare and learning from lock-downs to the present. In terms of childcare, I highlight children’s role in the distributed care system on one hand, and parental constructions of their needs and vulnerabilities on the other. I show how growing concerns around children’s use of time in lockdowns led to a search for alternate avenues for learning, which were available through private tutoring. Fur-ther, my findings demonstrate the enduring impacts of this shift on children’s present rou-tines. Finally, the paper questions assumptions around children’s linear trajectories and pre-scriptions of ‘developmental milestones’ and argues for a more contextually grounded approach that situates children’s socio-cultural background to understand experiences of childhood.

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Roy Huijsmans
Social Policy for Development (SPD)
International Institute of Social Studies

Anoushka Gupta. (2022, December 16). Transitions: young children’s lived experiences of early learning and childcare from Covid-19 lockdowns to the present. Social Policy for Development (SPD). Retrieved from