Research Report

Exploratory Study of Time Diaries During COVID-19

Understanding Young Children’s Experiences During The Pandemic

This brief explores the use of time-diaries to deepen our understanding of the pandemic’s impacts on educational activities including differences across children and over time. We shed light on how well time-diary data correspond to more typical survey data and how well diaries allow us to assess differences among children in their daily routines. We find that time diaries provide finer grained and perhaps better information on the amount of time spent in various learning experiences and the degree of which these are enriched by parental involvement than typical questions about parent engagement. Diaries offer information about patterns of engagement spells throughout the day as well as total time. The diary data reinforces survey findings that engagement very limited or nonexistent for many young children this past spring. The results also illustrate the usefulness of diaries for understanding children’s daily experiences, in particular the educational content, activities and learning processes in which they engage.

The Authors

Dr. Milagros Nores is the Co-Director for Research and Associate Research Professor at the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). With a profound expertise in early childhood evaluation, informing data-driven policy and programming, cost and benefits of early interventions, evaluation design, equity, and English language learners, she has established herself as a leading researcher in the field of early care and education.