An exploratory study of the use of time diaries to understand young children’s experiences during the pandemic

Milagros Nores


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.


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